Players’ heart rate in chess broadcasts

by ChessBase
3/30/2022 – World Chess has introduced an innovation that will likely add a new dimension to the way fans watch chess (and other mind sports, for that matter!). They have developed – and will roll out today – a tool that tracks the players' heart rate over video signal (without playing having to wear a pulse-tracking device). Please find the press release below and tune in today to see the technology in action during the semi-finals of the Grand Prix in Berlin. Press release.

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Chess broadcast to include players’ heart rate determined by AI

March 30, 2022 — BERLIN, Germany — The official broadcast of the final rounds of the FIDE Grand Prix Series, an important part of the World Chess Championship cycle, will feature players’ heart rate indicator, according to World Chess, the Series organizer. 

This is the first time when the players’ heart rate is measured and displayed in the broadcast of the World Chess Championship cycle event.  It will allow spectators to better understand players’ emotions and true feelings (as far as they are reflected in the heart rate) — a rare insight into the psychology of the elite chess players who are trained and especially good at keeping a poker face. 

You can watch the broadcast with the heart rate monitor here

By adding a heart rate indicator, World Chess brings a new dimension into chess broadcasting and opens a new page of the way fans follow chess. Until now, the only way to learn about players’ emotions in a specifically tense moment was to ask them about it in a post-game press conference, and players rarely talk about emotions. With a heart rate tracker in the broadcast, spectators can sense players emotions while the game is going on. 

To accurately measure the heart rate without disturbing the players, World Chess is deploying a bespoke AI technology similar to that used by hospitals to track patients’ vitals over video. It’s the first time such technology is used in sports broadcasting. AI has been trained to read almost invisible changes in reflections of the skin color that change based on a person’s heart rate. 

“Chess games are thrilling, full of emotions and often rage or disappointment, but you don’t get to see it during the broadcast because the players are conditioned to hide it. We are happy to add a layer of human sensitivity so spectators can have some insight into the state of mind of their favorite players,’ — says Ilya Merenzon, World Chess CEO. 

The official broadcast of the FIDE Grand Prix is available for free on and on World Chess Youtube and Twitch channels. In addition to the heart rate indicator, it includes live video from the playing area, expert commentary, as well as players’ and spectators’ interviews and more. World Chess will continue developing and using the video heart rate reading technology in future events and broadcasting.

A word of explanation – by Frederic Friedel

I have witnesses experiments conducted by an AI group (which currently wishes to remain unnamed). A webcam was used to measure the heart rate and then derive “excitement” level during chess games from the values measured. Apparently, each heartbeat subtly changes the colour of the skin, and this can be detected by the AI. In a test, a notebook webcam was able to track my heart rate, which closely matched the value displayed by a traditional pulse monitor. The AI heart rate monitoring actually worked!

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