Invited to Russia for a photo shoot in 1993, Mr. Paulson remained for 15 years. He enlisted local partners in publishing several periodicals: Afisha, a Russian entertainment and listings guide; Bolshoi Gorod, a free version of a Sunday newspaper supplement; and MIR, a monthly travel magazine.
In 2006, a year after his publishing venture was acquired by a Russian company, he and Alexander Mamut, a billionaire Russian banker, founded SUP Media. The group became an online pioneer and bought LiveJournal, a social networking service. (It is still operating.)
Mr. Paulson scored his biggest coup in 2011 when the World Chess Federation, the global governing body of professional chess players known by its French acronym FIDE, awarded his company, Agon Limited, a no-bid contract for the media and marketing rights to the world championship tournaments.
Mr. Paulson, an amateur player, told Chess News in 2012 that he won the contract after encountering the federationâs president, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, by chance and persuading him that marketing the tournaments more effectively could generate millions of dollars.
âI have always been a consumer of chess as an idea and an entertainment,â Mr. Paulson said. âI always liked the idea of alpha geeks roaming the earth striving to mortally crush their adversaries.â
He insisted that chess had the potential to become wildly popular.
âWho wouldâve thought people would be watching golf on TV, and yet they are,â he told The Times in 2013, the same year he was elected president of the English Chess Federation. (He resigned within six months and also abandoned plans to seek the FIDE presidency.) âAnd all of India is watching cricket on TV,â he said. âThe only thing more boring than cricket is golf!â
Agon means struggle in ancient Greek, Mr. Paulson recalled, and the company lived up to its name.
Its first major event, the 2013 London Candidatesâ Tournament, was widely considered a…