Friday, 2 May 2008

Isle of Man - On or Off?

Yes, it has been a very long silence here at the BCM Blog, hasn't it? My last piece was on Bobby Fischer's death so perhaps I've been in mourning for the late, great world champion. But if so, it wasn't a conscious thing.

The reason I break the silence is to talk about the Isle of Man tournament. Is there going to be a 2008 Isle of Man tournament? As long-time tournament webmaster, it is a bit embarrassing to have to answer that with the words "I don't know". At the last tournament we had a meeting to discuss the 2008 event and various semi-official announcements were made via the website, talking in terms of a 2008 Manx International, but I haven't heard a thing since.

The prognosis is not good. Monarch Assurance's generous sponsorship ended with the 2007 event so it was already known that new sponsorship would need to be found. Since then, there has come further news that the venue, the Ocean Castle Hotel, closed for business on 31 December 2007 (and it is likely to be scheduled for demolition). At that point, hotel manager Jean-Pierre Depin - who is also tournament director - retired to Ramsey. I understand that all other possible venues in Port Erin are booked for the requisite time so the tournament would have to move town as well as find new money.

Various things appear on the web about a 2008 tournament but they look a bit sketchy and out of date. Does anyone out there know what's happening? If you do, please me know...


  1. I suppose this is another example of falling sponsorship.
    In the wider sporting or business world, when an organisation offers a 'property' for sponsorship it hopes to drum up at least some competition, but the 'event' remains the property of the organiser. It seems that in chess events are only organised once a sponsor is in place, and once the sponsorship has run its course, which it inevitably always does, the event tends to die. Think of the Lloyds Bank tournaments in London, which would be unthinkable without the Lloyds name around them. This makes the whole thing very flimsy.
    Sorry, I don't have the answer, and the climate is very poor for sponsorship generally at the moment. Its a case of fingers crossed again for the Isle of Man.

  2. John Saunders8 May 2008 at 10:27

    Yes, that's about the size of it, GB. Sponsorship doesn't last for ever from the same company. Both Lloyds Bank and Monarch Assurance were wonderful sponsors and the chess world owes them a lot (ditto Smith & Williamson and others). Their tournaments had pretty good runs for their money but perhaps neither lasted quite long enough to establish a tradition like Hastings and the British Championship, where sponsors have come and gone over the years and the tournament soldiers on (hope I'm not tempting fate - both of those also lack a sponsor at the moment. Organising a chess tournament without a sponsor is a very tough job).

    Finding a sponsor is extremely difficult even at the best of times. There are no easy answers but the chess community must do everything it can to support its organisers who, over the years, have done a fantastic job with little reward.