The success of a World Chess Championship

10/13/2005 – The event that is currently taking place in San Luis, Argentina, is breaking records for world-wide interest in chess. This can be counted by the very large numbers of visitors who follow the Internet coverage. What are the reasons for this remarkable success? The organisation, the format, the exciting games? We bring you numbers and explanations.

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Since the start of the FIDE world championship in San Luis, Argentina, our news page has recorded a steadily rising number of visitors. The Google-powered traffic ranking site Alexa.com now consistently ranks ChessBase.com amongst the top 10,000 web sites in the world (this week's average: 8,547). That reflects a remarkable interest in chess and in the World Championship in San Luis – an interest that is being meticulously monitored by the sponsors onsite, by other potential sponsors and of course by the World Chess Federation FIDE, the organiser of the event.

Let us take a look at the Alexa rankings of chessbase.com for the last two years:

The graph shows the daily reach per million Internet users in the world. At the beginning there is a very sharp peak, which some of you may recognize: that was the Kasparov vs X3D Fritz match that was staged in New York at the beginning of November 2003. In 2004 you can clearly see Wijk aan Zee and Linares making their peaks during the first two months. Then the Dannemann world championship and the Chess Olympiad in Calvià in September and October of 2004 caused new bursts of visitors to the site.

2005 started with Wijk again, and gained momentum during the Linares super-GM, which peaked with the announcement of Garry Kasparov's retirement from competitive chess. A mini jump is seen for the Sofia Mobiltel Masters in May, then clear peaks for Dortmund in July and a flurry of interesting tournaments and news items in August.

All the way to the right you can see the dramatic spike brought on by the World Championship in San Luis, which started at the end of September and has spawned 30 ChessBase reports so far.

To what can we attribute the remarkable record-breaking success of this event? A number of factors come to mind:

  • The event was well-publicized in advance, with the event host Governor Alberto Rodríguez Saá of San Luis, giving us an in-depth interview and visiting Dresden where he met with the Prince of Saxony.

  • The organisers provided ample information, including pictures, and didn't hassle anyone about broadcasting the games live.

  • The tournament turned out to be very exciting, sensationally so, with almost no unfought games and a number of completely decisive rounds. [Yes, we know "unfought" isn't really a word, but it should be. Along with "fightless."] Chess fans were delighted.

  • We were able to install live audio commentary by GM Yasser Seirawan and IM Andrew Martin during live coverage on the Playchess server.

  • Nigel Short provided a new kind of exuberentatious narrative (we made that one up too) for our web reports that caught the fancy of the regular visitors and also of many new chess enthusiasts.

Oh, yes, and maybe we can also credit the dedication of the ChessBase editorial team that made the trip to San Luis, which is located 12,000 odd kilometres from our base in Hamburg, Germany, on a different continent in a different hemisphere – but happily on the same planet. But that is the subject of our next story, to follow later today...

Frederic Friedel in San Luis


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