World Championship: Interviews, reflections, chess sets

by ChessBase
5/16/2012 – Is the Championship in Moscow, without a Russian player, an audience success? Can chess ever be that? Yes it can, says chief organiser Ilya Levitov, who has a 21st Century formula to bring chess to a wide audience – and make events pay for themselves. Compelling. We also get a tour of chess sets and pictures in the Tretyakov Museum. Must-watch interview by Europe Echecs.

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The World Chess Championship 2012 is being staged in the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, between the current World Champion Viswanathan Anand of India and the winner of the Candidates tournament Boris Gelfand of Israel. The match is over twelve games and lasts from May 11 to 30. The prize fund is US $2.55 million, the winner getting $1.53 million (60%), the loser $1,02 million (40%).

The following interview was conducted by GM Robert Fontaine and his video producer Gérard Demuydt for the French chess magazine Europe Echecs. Ilya Levitov is the head of the Management Board of the Russian Chess Federation, and more recently a vice-president of FIDE. He is a pioneer of modernising chess coverage in the media and on the Internet, as we showed in this earlier report.

Very informative interview with the main organiser of the World Championship in Moscow: Ilya Levitov

Ilya tells us that the HD live stream that the organisers are broadcasting in two languages is a great success. The coverage of the opening ceremony drew over 100,000 viewers. On television it was millions – on the first Russian channel around fifty million. The Internet transmission with multiple webcams is around 10-15% of the total cost of normal events, e.g. the Tal Memorial. In the case of the World Championship the percentage is much lower because of the big prize fund. But it is very important. "The first tournament I did in Moscow – the Tal Memorial in 2005 or 2006 – had two spectators and two journalists, and that was it," he says. "The tournament was organised for the grandmasters and their well-being." He also describes how the organisers are now inserting ads of the main sponsors in their video broadcasts."

Our humble opinion: this man is showing the rest of the chess world how the game can move into the 21st century, how it can provide real and tangible returns for the money the sponsors are expected to pour into the game. Incidentally you should not miss the second part of the interview, where Levitov speaks of the special problems that chess faces as a spectator sport. Interestingly he thinks – just like the provocative Steve Giddins – that the match is too short. "It should be sixteen games, maybe even twenty, because they have to find out what's going on. It is interesting to watch for a few weeks how things are progressing, how the players are changing, how the positions and the opening preferences are changing."

Impressions of the Art Museum, with portraits of World Champions and chess sets (Russian, two minutes)

Photo gallery by Anastasya Karlovich

Famous chess pictures and pieces in the Tretyakov Museum in Moscow

On the far left there is an interesting historical picture...

You will never guess who this young grandmaster is!?

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's economic aide Arkady Dvorkovich is chairman of the Russian Chess Federation. In the picture above you may recognise the portrait of the famous chess player in the background.

A game on a giant chessboard. But who is playing against GM Ian Rogers (background)?

In is the oldest living grandmaster, Yuri Averbakh, who turned 90 in February

Every kind of chess set is displayed in Tretyakov Museum

GM Robert Fontaine, producer of the video reports above, is quite fascinated...

Here's one that is slightly less elaborate than the previous one...

Hand painted babushka-style chess pieces

Chess pieces like you have never seen before...

... never ever. It would be interesting, though, to get some information on this set.


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 11 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

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