First Talking Chess match in Tehran

3/9/2013 – In an effort to turn chess into a spectator sport the Iranian Chess Federation (really!) is taking the initiative and staging an innovative match in which the players – former World Championship Challenger Nigel Short and GM Ehsan Ghaem Maghami, Iran’s strongest player – will explain their thought processes to the public during the game.

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How to make chess a spectator sport? Talking Chess is the new way to broadcast chess. Former World Championship Challenger GM Nigel Short is playing a Talking Chess match, organized by the Iranian Chess Federation, from 8-12 March 2013 in Tehran against GM Ehsan Ghaem Maghami, Iran’s strongest player. There will be four standard chess games, four rapid and eight blitz games.

Press conference with Maghami (2nd from right) and Short (middle) before the match

Every six moves, players go to a secluded room and record their thoughts on videocam. The live broadcast of the moves will be highlighted by the recording of the players. It will be interesting to see how the players think. Both may think they are ahead in the position. Or both may think they are at a disadvantage.

Usually players give press conferences after the game and explain their analysis. In Talking Chess, players share their analysis while the game is going on! Neither player will be able to hear the other’s recording although spectators in the hall will have headphones and the live analysis will be broadcast on the Internet on the official Talkingchess site given below.

This format may be what chess needs to enter television. Mehrdad Pahlevanzadeh, originator of the Talking Chess Match, said that television companies in Iran have shown great interest in the format and will make it a TV show.

Talking during the game

The idea is not completely new. A decade and a half ago, during the Intel Grand Prix tournaments, an idea was developed to have two top players – e.g. Kasparov and Anand – play against each other while explaining to a host what they were thinking. Naturally the two would be in separate locations and the moves communicated electronically. The plan was to have them located on the observation decks of (sigh) the two towers of the World Trade Center, in view of each other. Each would be sitting at a board, opposite a host, who would get the moves of the opponent by radio and execute them on the board. The host would also engage the player in conversation, asking what he thought of the move, the position, what plans he was mulling over, what his evaluation of the situation was. A light would signal when the other side was discussing, in order to avoid overlap. All this would be broadcast into a big hall filled with spectators who could follow it on large screens, and it would be recorded for broadcast on TV and for subsequent multimedia distribution.

Unfortunately the plan, which was developed by PCA board members the Intel management, and was given green light by the latter, never actually materialised. The BBC Master Game was a prior simulation of the concept, and the Tehran Talking Chess event is a contemporary first step in this direction. Perhaps it will catch on – the original concept is interesting enough to be revived and reconsidered.

Links

The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.


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