Xtreme Chess Championships – Reality TV show

2/16/2012 – Reality TV is more alive than ever, with competitions ranging from the best designer to toughest trucker. One would think that our beloved game might be a tough sell, since it is not necessarily the most visually compelling, right? Not if you ask Jennifer Shahade, Greg Shahade, and Daniel Meirmon who strive to break the austere nerdy image with their brainchild Xtreme Chess Championships.

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Xtreme Chess Championships Reality TV show

The show's logo

Reality TV is more alive than ever, with competitions ranging from the best designer, best businessman, and best cook, all the way to toughest trucker (don’t ask). One would think that our beloved royal game might be a tough sell, since while the game is as naturally competitive as there is, it is not necessarily the most visually compelling, right? Not if you ask Jennifer Shahade, Greg Shahade, and Daniel Meirmon who have launched their brainchild “Xtreme Chess Championship” striving to break the austere nerdy image attributed to chess.

To start with, the eight competitors are all young American players, with girls and guys, playing a swift knockout tournament to be crowned the first Xtreme Chess Champion. While all are master level players, they are all normal kids going to school and studying, who just happened to prefer chess as opposed to basketball or football.

The players are Alena Kats, Alex Barnett, Alisa Melekhina, Elliott Liu, Shawn Martinez, Kassa Korley, Kevin Wang, and Justus Williams.

Alisa Melekhina, a philosophy student, is interviewed by host Kacie Marie

The games are all essentially fifteen minute games, with a five-second increment, played with a time handicap for the white player, and in the event of a draw, the tiebreak is played with reversed colors using the remaining time. Even if one of the players is stuck with less than a single minute on their clock.

Greg Shahade introduces the action between Alex Barnett and Alena Kats

The show is hosted by Kacie Marie and Greg Shahade, and providing live commentary are Jennifer Shahade and Jonathan Corbblah.

Jennifer Shahade and Jonathan Corbblah provide live game commentary

To watch, you don’t need to badger your local cable TV company to broadcast them, as the episodes can be watched online in YouTube in full HD resolution. Stay updated on Facebook and Twitter as well.

Here are the first two episodes as well as the press releases introducing them.

Xtreme Chess Championships Episode one

Watch the first episode of the Xtreme Chess Championships, a made for TV knockout competition featuring eight of the best young players in America. The first installment sees Duke University freshman Kassa Korley facing off of Shawn Martinez, an alumnus of the Junior High School Championship dynasty, IS 318. We also watch Justus Williams, who broke the record for the youngest-ever African-American master, facing off against another pre-teen master, Kevin Wang. 


Xtreme Chess Championships Episode two

The Extreme "X Chess" Championships showcases a double header Battle of the Sexes in its second episode. 16-year-old chessmaster Alena Kats faces poker player & chess champ Alex Barnett, 22. Meanwhile, law student & ballerina Alisa Melekhina, 20, (pictured) plays the fun-loving Stanford student Elliott Liu, 22. All four players are chess masters, ranked in the top 1% of tournament chess players.

In chess, women can compete on equal footing with men, making a battle of the sexes especially suitable for X Chess, which is a cross between a sports show and a reality TV show. This particular week is a great time to celebrate women in chess. In the strongest Open tournament of the year, the Gibraltar Chess Congress, Women's World Champion Hou Yifan, 17, emerged with the highest tournament performance including wins over several of the top male Grandmasters in the World.

The Extreme Chess Championships is a made for TV competition that showcases the drama of chess and the rush of checkmate. The pace in this single elimination knockout competition, also known as X Chess, is much closer to basketball than golf—each player has less than 20 minutes to complete all his or her moves. The show aims to heighten the awareness of chess and to prove that intellectual pursuits can create thrilling television.

The Extreme Chess Championships is created by filmmaker Daniel Meirom, US Chess League founder and International Master Greg Shahade and author and two-time US Women's Champion Jennifer Shahade. X Chess is hosted by model and actress Kacie Marie. Jeopardy! Champion Jonathan Corbblah, who has appeared on ESPN, Cash Cab and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, provides accessible commentary with Jennifer Shahade. The event was hosted at Chess-In-The-Schools, a New York non-profit organization.


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