Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Chess, Scrabble & Go Attendance

On Tue, Sep 08, 2009, I posted on the USCF forum, Chess vs Scrabble. I contrasted the number of players in the Chess US Open versus the number in the National Scrabble Championship. (
While researching the number of players at this years Go Congress, I decided to revisit Scrabble. What I found on Wikipedia ( revises what I posted on the USCF forum. This is the revised and updated list, with chess listed first:
1992 Dearborn 496 Atlanta 315
1994 Rosemont 470 Los Angeles 294
1996 Alexandria 515 Dallas 412
1998 Kona 304 Chicago 535
2000 St Paul 492 Providence 598
2002 Cherry Hill 506 San Diego 696
2004 Weston 434 New Orleans 837
2005 Phoenix 455 Reno 682
2006 Chicago 543 Phoenix 625
2008 Dallas 379 Orlando 662
2009 Indy 456 Dayton 486
2010 Irvine 474 Dallas 408
2011 Orlando 367 Dallas 329

It is obvious from the totals above that the transfer of wealth from the taxpayers to the banker bums late in the Bushwhacker administration has had a deleterious effect on the turnout, especially at the Scrabble National Championships. Keep in mind that the Scrabble players do not have an opportunity to 'drop-in' to their tournament later on in the tournament like chess players. If you play in the Scrabble tournament, you are there from day one. When one considers that only one hundred players played in what is now called the 'traditional' schedule of the US chess open, it makes the participation in the 2011 Scrabble tournament look much better. From 1998 through 2009 Scrabble drew more players than chess.
The US Open of Go was held recently in Santa Barbara, California, drawing about 450 players, more than either chess of Scrabble. Part of the reason could be that there are a large number of Go players on the left coast; another reason being the growing popularity in the US of the ancient game of Go, or, more properly, Wei Chi, as it is called in the rest of the world. It is difficult to find figures for Go tournaments. For example, the list on the website of the American Go Association ( ends with the 2009 US Open. There are 366 players in the crosstable for the 2009 event. Please note that Go players only play one game a day. It would seem they prefer quality over quantity. The 2008 event drew 352.
Board games are not the only recreational activities affected adversely by the moribund economy. For example, in an article in the NY Times, Neither Smurf Nor Wizard Could Save Summer Movie Attendance (, it is written that,
"Hollywood has now experienced four consecutive summers of eroding attendance, a cause for alarm for both studios and the publicly traded theater chains. One or two soft years can be dismissed as an aberration; four signal real trouble."

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