First off, chess e-books. At least according to Dan Addelman of chess publisher Everyman:
As trade publishers bemoan the slow uptake of their ebooks, Everyman Chess has had quite the opposite reaction. The publisher launched its first e-books on 14th July and is already selling up to ten copies every day, around the world.I'm struggling to think of a disadvantage of the interactive e-book against a normal chess book...
Not only are the ebooks universal but Everyman Chess ebooks have extra value compared to that of the standard pdf ebook which most publishers produce – they are interactive! The publisher is convinced that this is the way forward for ebooks.
In anticipation of the launch, Everyman Chess has been trialling the project since January this year by making one chapter from each title available as a free download from its website, www.everymanchess.com.
Already over 15,000 chapters have been downloaded.
But how about the game itself? I have long wondered if the future of chess is Freestyle Chess. This form of chess consists of a fairly quick on-line tournament, where the rules for each individual player are: anything goes. Want to hire Bobby Fischer and have him on your side? It's allowed. Kasparov, too? Sure. Plug in three Rybkas, as well? And how about that tablebase, or Fritz's opening book? Yup, no problem.
The various attractions of this "Wacky Races" form of chess for various parties are not entirely inobvious. The issue of cheating in on-line competitions is removed, since anything goes. Amateurs can compete with pro's; anyone with an internet connection can enter. There is room for both chess specialists and computer specialists - and both on the same team. The short time-frame of the tournaments - a few days - is exciting for spectators (as compared to, say Correspondence tournaments which feature a similar integration of man versus machine.) The quality of the games will always be very high. There are various opportunities for advertisers and sponsors - from micro-advertising on the playing server itself, to companies promoting their specialist equipment by entering it. World Champions may visit the toilet as often as they wish. And so on.
Where can you hear about Freestyle Chess? The answer for a long time now has been Chessbase. But their reports have never really been quite my cup of tea: too much off the board stuff, not enough about the games or what it's like to play this form of chess. So it was intriguing for me to read GM Tony Kosten's insider's account of the latest Freestyle tournament in the latest issue of KingPin. His excitement is palpable and he includes two pages of annotation. But for my purpose here, just a quick quote:
"It [Freestyle] is certainly a different type of chess, maybe the chess of the future..."
Finally, the rise of chess videos this year is not an undocumented phenomenon, one flagged first by About Chess. These videos differ from their 20th Century predecessors that took a month to arrive in the post, were over-priced, and perhaps a bit dull. Instead they are short, produced by passionate amateurs, and available for free via youtube. So what? Old news? Ah, but what London players might not know is that Tryfon Gavriel of Barnet Chess Club has started to produce his own. (If you're outside of London, you might also know of Tryfon - but this time as the amiable webmaster of correspondence site Lets Play Chess, where he plays as Kingscrusher.) He generally analyses classics or well-known games, in a style perhaps aimed more at intermediate players than advanced players well-schooled in the history of the game. But enjoyable and entertaining they are - popular on youtube too - and you can find them all here.
Reading, playing, communicating, more - the future of chess is electronic. Maybe.