Welcome to the inaugural Chess Specter.
Let’s get started.
I am a proponent of the idea that chess should be able to be a “spectator sport.” What I mean is that chess could easily be a TV game that highlights the personalities of the players and has expert instruction from a commentating team watching an abridged (edited for time) game.
Sounds exciting with that explanation? No, but you get the general picture.
I used to explain my idea as “WWE meets chess.” That always, and I mean always, got the response of “oh, so staged results and folding chairs… ha ha ha.” What I meant by that was to concentrate on the story lines and characters of the players and move away from the dry and stuffy atmosphere the players are currently in. The games would be actual games.
Since that initial explanation, I’ve been given a much easier method of comparison: poker.
Poker organizations on TV (World Series of Poker, World Poker Tour, etc) all do basically the same thing. They film the entirety of a tournament, highlight the “big plays” while simultaneously concentrating on the “characters” at the table. Two or three guys commentate over an “edited for time” version of the event and you have a polished, not live, event to watch in 30, 60, 90, or 120 minute format. Multiple tournaments, multiple episodes. The end result is usually a “who’s who” of the earlier episodes meeting for the championship.
Why can’t chess do that?
My idea is to turn chess into an entertaining spectacle. There is an old 70s/80s TV show from the UK (called the Master Game, I think… search it out on YouTube) that did a small portion of the idea I’m explaining. Two players played a game, they then made commentary over their moves and sat down to recreate their game to fit within a time frame. The commentary by the players was then added to by non-player commentary and you kind of learned while watching. Was the game staged? The recreation was… why does the finished product have to be live?
Obviously, there are lots of other things that would need to be addressed. How to expand something like that into a multiple game/multiple player show (like 3 games per episode or a UFC style “pay per view” that’s 3 hours long and has up to 6 games)? How to get the players to create themselves into a character instead of a stuffed shirt? Who can be knowledgable enough to color commentate?
I’ll end this with the players as stuffed shirt comment. I’m not saying that Joe Q. Public shouldn’t be respectful of John Doe’s skills, but why can’t Joe smack talk a little or create a little drama around the game instead of just being vanilla, analytical, or overly respectful? Wouldn’t it be more interesting if John stepped up and said Joe couldn’t play his way out of a brown paper bag? Now there’s a little drama involved… what’s next?
There is no reason we can’t make things a little more interesting. If I had 4 to 6 players (or 8 to 10), I’d make a “sample event” and edit that thing up. The best way to prove it can be done is to DO it.
There’s a little something to think on until next time. Maybe I’m not the only one and maybe there is more interest than I think there is. Who knows unless I put it out there?
See you next time. Game on.