Agon appoints Pentagram to reposition chess

7/2/2012 – As we recently reported, American media entrepreneur Andrew Paulson has founded a venture to host the World Chess Championships – with a prize fund of 5.4 million Euros! He has now appointed a leading design agency, Pentagram (in London) to rebrand the championships, which will be broadcast live on iPads, smartphones and cable TV channels. Press release (revised).

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Press release

Agon appoints Pentagram to reposition chess for the world stage

Leading design agency Pentagram has been hired to rebrand the World Chess Championships, after the World Chess Federation (FIDE) accorded the commercial rights to the sport to technology entrepreneur Andrew Paulson.


American entrepreneur Andrew Paulson [photo Ester Dyson, New York]

Mr Paulson struck the deal with Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, president of FIDE, to host the championships and provide long-term commercial structure for the game, with an increased prize fund of 5.4 million euros.

AGON, the company set up to administer the commercial activities of World Chess, has briefed Pentagram to position the sport as a global entertainment form that encompasses the interactive potential of the internet and mobile technology.

Pentagram has designed the new auditorium for the next World Chess Championship cycle, which will start next March in London as part of the European Tour, before moving on to Lisbon, Madrid, Paris, Berlin and Istanbul.

The championship games will be broadcast live on the internet, on iPads and on smartphones. A range of apps will allow fans to follow the championships on all the major social media platforms. Mr Paulson is also negotiating with global cable television channels for highlights coverage on living room television sets.

The sport is so far a clean slate in terms of advertising, and Mr Paulson is looking for six brand partners to “professionalise and enliven” the sport.

He said: “World Chess will make household names of Grandmasters and provide a compelling media proposition for global companies to become sponsors. YouGov research has shown that chess is more associated with intelligence, sophistication and strategy than any other major global sport.”

Mr Paulson founded the Russian businesses Afisha Publishing House and the online media business SUP. His vision for the World Chess Championships was born following a chance meeting with Ilyumzhinov, the former leader of the Buddhist region of Kalmykia, who was re-elected as president of FIDE in 2010.

FIDE will supply the players and regulate the tournament, initially receiving 20 per cent of the prize money, with an additional profit-share agreement planned over the longer term.

Each World Chess Championship cycle will take two years, working up to the Championship Match via the Candidates Tournament, six Grand Prix and one World Cup game, where the leading challenger will take on the reigning World Champion.

Following the European Tour-themed first year, the World Chess Championships will be hosted by cities in a different economic zone each succeeding year: the Arab world in 2014, India in 2015 and the Americas in 2016.

Harriet Dennys, Mission PR


American born Andrew Paulson is the director of the online media company SUP, which owns the principal blogging platform and social network in Russia. As we recently reported, FIDE decided to stage the next Candidates Tournament this October in London, and transferred the rights to the world championship cycle to a new company, Agon, founded by Paulson. Links to our previous reports, where you will find all the details, are to be found at the bottom of this page.


American entrepreneur Andrew Paulson [photo Ester Dyson, New York]

In a previous interview, conducted by Raymond Keene during three meetings in London. "Andrew and I met almost by chance at our mutual club, the Garrick, in London," Ray told us. "I took an instant liking to him because he is a doer and highly cultured, especially in English and French literature. His plans for world chess seem to me to be very well thought through."

Paulson: 'World cities will glorify chess'
12.03.2012 – FIDE recently transferred the rights to its World Championship cycle to a company called Agon, an action that sent shock waves through the chess world. The man behind Agon is Andrew Paulson, an American born media entrepreneur working in Russia, who is not well known in the chess world. That changes radically now, since GM Raymond Keene sent us this very outspoken interview.

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