Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Chess On TV?

There are, it seems to me, a million and one reasons to oppose Chess on TV.

Firstly, chess is just so much more suitable for the internet, it's almost as if the internet was invented for chess. Want a game, fast or slow? Easy. Puzzles? No problem. Expert advice? Yep, one click away. Want to chat, kibitz, analyze, spectate top games? Any time! Anyone. TV, it seems to me, is rather more limited in its options.

Secondly, of course, Chess on TV might make the game more popular, and that'd mean more competition. I don't know about you, but that's the last thing I want.

And now, I have reason number million and two. The new reason is, in fact, this video recording of Chess on TV. My eyes popped out within the first few minutes, when I spotted the initial position they set up on the board. But it was the screech about 11 minutes in that burst my ear drums. Highlights in passing include phone-in questions such as: "Do you know Robert De Niro?", "I gotta rook. And a pawn," - that was it - and, "If I get my king to the other side of the board, do I win?"

Chess. It makes you laugh. It makes you cry. But please, keep it off TV.


Anonymous said...

i think it would be nice if they showed on bbc , live chess like world championships

alexey hurricane

Anonymous said...

The TV show "Chess now" is really an example of how to not make a TV program. But is was kind of sweet to see how they were looking for anyone who knows how to play chess to call in case he/she wants to become the host.

The way the pieces are setup is actually a very common mistake. Just think of it as playing Chess 960 or Fischer Random with restricting themselfes to one particular of the starting positions.

The real question to me is, why would anyone want to try to put a lot of effort into marketing chess on TV is the trend is towards the Internet anyway? As you wrote, the interactive nature of the Internet makes it so much better suited for chess.

But with this we also come back to the quality issue - the know-how (and the money) necessary to produce high-quality shows ist still with TV producers such as the BBC ALexey mentioned above.

Anonymous said...


in my experience Chess on Tv is the last thing likely to make it popular. The master game was good years (decades) ago. ALso that kasparov - short quickplay match was quite good (although not the clown who presented it).

Other than that it's pretty much all been shit. Especially the Ray keene bits. (IMHO of course)

Anonymous said...

I agree it would be good if they did it well but they probably wouldn't.

the Channel 4 world championship coverage I'd consider just watchable (if you were able to ignore Carole I'm brainy me Vorderman)

Tom Chivers said...

*Jonathan*, you got me thinking. Do you think chess on TV would encourage more patzers to come into the game? I'm all in favour of that.

*Sciurus* good point about the quality issue. Maybe you have quality TV where you are...

Jonathan B said...

I'm not sure chess on TV would have much effect either way - it's just too bad. There might be some marginal impact on beginners joining chess clubs - or more likely starting to play on the net - but nothing more than that.

I've just remembered another old good tv chess programme. Around 1979/1980 something like that there were two series of a programme aimed at children. As i recall it was shown in the school holidays. I think it was called something like "Play Chess".

That was very enjoyable as I recall. William Hartston was involved and, I think, Jeremy James who was also part of the Master Game.

ejh said...

Do you think chess on TV would encourage more patzers to come into the game? I'm all in favour of that.

I think it would, yes. Without a doubt.

Tom Chivers said...

I might be about to change my mind...

Roger Coathup said...

We had some chess on ITV last week in the North East of England.

Anonymous said...

The Master Game was a seriously good programme and they should bring it back. Apparently lots of non chess players enjoyed the programme also. Mark Hogarth of Hilsmark Kingfisher told me about 3 years back, he was trying to revive it, but nothing seems to have come of it.

Anonymous said...

When Chris Ward came to give one of his two simuls (the first i think) he mentioned he took part in a pilot. Two celebrities play speed chess against each other 'assisted' by a grandmaster.

naturally it somewhat degenerated into two grandmasters telling their celebrity what to do. Which sounds kind of pointless.

also, since Chris ward was paired with craig charles, they were obviously using the term 'celebrity' somewhat loosely.

Chris was also one of those chess players who turned up on the Derren Brown show.

ejh said...

I'm not at all surprised that somebody should try and revive The Master Game and to be honest I'm surprised nothing's come of it. How much can it cost to have a late-night show on an obscure Sky channel?

Andrew's right about non-chessplayers. It was onwhen I was at school and classmates who didn't even know the rules used to tell me how they'd followed the previous night's game.

The programme Chris Ward was doing was very gimmicky and I'm quite pleased it didn't happen. I'm quite sure there's an audience for a proper show.

Anonymous said...

i luv to c chess on tv im a hughe fan even if cable i would pay ppv if available at least lets have trial run