Editor3 Comments

Making Chess Broadcasting Dramatic

Editor3 Comments
Making Chess Broadcasting Dramatic

We’ve been trying to make chess broadcasting dramatic and exciting for a while now, trying 360-degree camera during the 2016 World Chess Championship, trying different approach to commentators and even thinking of putting the players on the mountain or underwater (via green screen). 

But I think that chess is a sport and the show that is completely different from football or event darts, where you don’t need to understand the game to clearly see what’s going on: either the athlete hit the mark or he didn’t. In chess, you must know the game well to be able to follow the commentary or be interested in what the next move might be. 

We are introducing few novelties and broadcasting standards for the Candidates Tournament and will have more improvements for the upcoming Championship Match. 

— Spectators Reactions 

Chess is a sport, but so far, at least in most broadcasts, the spectators’ and teams’ reactions have been missing, and it’s a mistake, because they are a major part of the show. This time, we have a dedicated correspondent who is going to talk to the audience and the players’ teams so the viewers can get immediate feedback and see what the teams are thinking and how they react to moves and dramatic moments that will take place in the Tournament. 

— Studio 

We are building an actual studio. Mindful of the fact that spectators are interested in seeing the players’ reactions and moves, we are also building the studio which will feature hosts and guests and will look like a top-level TV show environment. We will of course jump to the players whenever an interesting position or move is played, so you will see a lot of players. There will be 12 cameras on the set, so you’ll be able to follow your favorite player closely. 

— Top-view cameras 

Venue for the Candidates Tournament, Kühlhaus Berlin (Luckenwalder Str. 3) has been selected to some degree because of its multi-level design, allowing us to set up top-view cameras. It’s a new thing for us, we’ll see how the Candidates Tournament games look from the ceiling cameras. 

— Excellent commentary

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Judit Polgar and Magnus Carlsen

Judit talks to Magnus after his final round in the World Chess Championship in New York City.

Judit Polgar, who did excellent commentary during the 2016 World Chess Championship, will be the lead commentator. We found that Judit is excellent because she understands and knows the game better than anyone in the world (being one of the strongest players of all time), but also, because she’s been involved in teaching chess, she can relate to those spectators who are not professionals. In New York, she managed to “lower the barrier to entry” for chess broadcasting, and we believe that she can make it exciting for those who are not only interested professionally, but those who simply want to cheer for their favorite player. Judit is going to be supported by Lawrence Trent, an international master as well as numerous guests. 

— Stickers and important moments

Stickers by  Shuka Design

Stickers by Shuka Design

We are trying stickers in the commentary for the first time. Believing that chess is a very emoji-friendly sport, we have developed a sticker-set, which we’ll use in the commentary as well as in Social Media. Feel free to use them and also add your own. So far we are developing a set of 21 stickers with more to come as the Tournament progresses. Please note that one of the stickers is ‘b-o-r-i-n-g”. We’ve been fighting the ‘chess is boring’ stigma for years as we are talking to sponsors and partners, and hope that this sticker will be rarely used, but also want spectators and the team to point out boring moments (if any) to put a little pressure one the players to fight! 

— Shorter and cooler graphics 

Graphics pack for the Tournament is cool and short. It’s about chess, not the graphics. 


— Interaction 

We are building as much interactive features into the broadcast as possible: subscribers will be able to ask questions during the press conference (via a dedicated correspondent). Also, soon you will be able to make predictions and polls on who is winning, we are deploying many more features, and will be testing them during the Tournament. 

— Facebook Live

Some important moments will be broadcasted via Facebook Live, but we hope that many spectators will choose to sign-up for premium broadcast — part of the subscription will go towards increasing the prize fund for players. In the future, we believe that all or most of the prize fund will be comprised of subscription fees. Subscribe to World Chess Facebook page to be alerted about Facebook Live broadcasts.

— Correspondent 

We will have a dedicated correspondent who will help spectators who are not present in Berlin to feel as they have the best seats in the house. We’ll go around Berlin, follow players and their teams, talk to spectators and offer behind-the-scenes views. 


Please send me a note with ideas, suggestions and complaints at merenzon@worldchess.com — we are still working on making the chess broadcasting the best it can be and our team (and me personally) appreciate all feedback.