Caruana, Nakamura and Shahade among speakers at MIT Sports Conference

by ChessBase
3/9/2023 – Chess was among the topics discussed at the 17th edition of the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, which took place on March 3-4 at the Hynes Convention Centre in Boston. The panel brought together some of the biggest names in the game, including Danny Rensch, Jennifer Shahade, Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura, and Daryl Morey.

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A chess renaissance

The 17th edition of the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference took place on March 3-4 at the Hynes Convention Centre in Boston, Massachusetts.

The conference goal is to provide a forum for industry professionals (executives and leading researchers) and students to discuss the increasing role of analytics in the global sports industry. MIT Sloan is dedicated to fostering growth and innovation in this arena, and the conference enriches opportunities for learning about the sports business world. The conference is open to anyone interested in sports. Founded by Daryl Morey (MIT Sloan '00) and Jessica Gelman (HBS '02) in 2006, the Conference is chaired by Gelman and Morey and organized by MIT Sloan students.

Chess was among the topics discussed this year, with’s Danny Rensch as the host and four famous guests: elite GMs Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura, author and former women’s US champion Jennifer Shahade and Philadelphia 76ers’ President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey.

The event was titled “The Chess Renaissance: Modern Challenges for an Ancient Game” and was thus introduced on the official website:

Although Chess has been played for over one-thousand years, its popularity has attained new heights in the recent years, particularly amongst the younger generation.

This is in part due to popular TV shows, like the Queen’s Gambit, the ease of streaming matches, and a growing amount of engaging and digestible content tailor-made for social media. Yet, the game has also been rocked by prominent cheating scandals — aided by the very technologies that have helped chess grow more popular.

This panel brings together some of the biggest names in the game including Danny Rensch, Jennifer Shahade, Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura, and Daryl Morey to discuss the current state of chess, techniques to detect cheating, and how chess can continue to leverage technology to grow the game all while keeping competition fair, fun, and entertaining. There will be a board on stage - so who knows, we might even have a live match break out in the middle of the discussion! 

Watch the conversation in full on 42 Analytics’ YouTube channel (starting at 9:27:00).

The ever-outspoken Nakamura said the following while discussing how to keep the chess boom going. A famous streamer, he thinks shorter time controls and online events are the key to continue to grow the game:

There’s also the big elephant in the room which isn’t addressed, which is the fact that when we’re talking about going mainstream with chess, or success, a lot of it has to do with what the prize funds are, how much money people earn as professional players. When you look at it from the context of trying to bring more money into the game, it’s all about the audience. What does the audience want to see? In this modern world, eyeballs drive everything. Because of that, I think the formats that are relatively shorter are going to attract sponsors and viewers much more than longer formats.

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