Chess has a bright future in the digital age, says former world championship finalist Nigel Short, but he believes its governing body is failing to capitalise on grassroots enthusiasm for the ancient game.
The British player, whose run to the 1993 world championship final and subsequent defeat by Garry Kasparov made him a household name, said chess and technology are a good match.
"Chess is the ultimate mind sport and the Internet was made for chess," said Short, sitting in an Athens cafe surrounded by Greeks playing backgammon. "I see a bright future for the sport and it could become a major sport."
Currently ranked 30th in the world and living in Greece with his wife and two children, Short accused the World Chess Federation (FIDE) of mismanaging the game and failing to attract sponsors.
"Next year people will be playing chess on their mobile phones...but FIDE are just not up to the job. They do not have any business skills to promote chess and they have not managed to harness long-term sponsorship for the game," he said.
"The FIDE leadership is not chasing the money and I am sure the money is there because there are hundreds of millions of chess players around the world."
MILLIONS OF HOUSEHOLDS
He said that, with chess boards in millions of households and with emerging powerhouses India and China opening up new markets, FIDE is content to maintain the status quo rather than aggressively seek to attract funds.
"Chess will either continue to be run in a very amateurish fashion or there will be serious opposition in FIDE elections next year," he said. "There is already a serious opposition because dissatisfaction is great."
When he played Kasparov in 1993, he was the first non-Soviet or non-Russian player to reach the final since American Bobby Fischer defeated Soviet champion Boris Spassky in 1972.
These days 40-year-old Short, who is secretary general of the Commonwealth Chess Association, enjoys his time off competition to write about the game or coach younger players.
He is now writing his chess column for the Guardian newspaper in Britain following an end to his 10-year spell at the Daily Telegraph.
"I am currently the number one player over the age of 40 in the world," he said with a smile. "I am certainly gradually coming to the end of my active days but I want to continue playing competitions, coaching and writing about chess."
Short, who was ranked as high as third in the world in 1989, said the game nowadays is faster and more physically demanding.
"Chess is physically much more demanding than you realise and during certain key moments your heart rate may double. Chess is not only a mind game, but a matter of performing under pressure, just like sitting an exam."