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Saturday, May 01, 2010

World Chess Championship in obscurity

In Bulgaria, the World Chess Championship is going on.
Even on chess web sites, this doesn't seem to be attracting much attention.  The "Chess News' section at one site has this for its newest headline.

Chess news

World Championship Sofia: Tied after 2nd round

Posted by 365Chess.com on April 26, 2010 in Chess news
World Chess Championship matches have always had a special flavor when they are contested by players who have held the title at one time or the other. The World Chess Championship 2010 at Sofia which started on Saturday 24th April, a day later than originally scheduled, has reigning Champion Viswanathan Anand of India taking on Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria.
That's a fine headline and opening paragraph, except that as of this afternoon SIX games have been played!
In my lifetime, only the Bobby Fischer - Boris Spassky match generated significant amounts of attention, although Karpov & Kasparov had their moments.
The official web site allows you to watch it live: http://www.anand-topalov.com/en/live.html
This is a marketing opportunity completely lost. There are practically no ads to click on. The live commentary? Well, it was accurately described by "Markji" on the Chessworld forum this way:
"If you would like free commentary, go to http://www.anand-topalov.com/en/live.html
during the game. Most of the commentary is in Bulgarian or Dutch. I cannot tell the difference. There is a smattering of English tossed in the otherwise incomprehensible (to me) language salad."
What's surprising to me is that they don't even attempt to use some of the techniques used by those doing web commentary on bike races such as the Tour de France.  There's a lot of dead time doing web commentary on a 200k bike race with 25 seconds of action right at the end, especially when you can't see the riders or the scenery. But there are things to comment on, minor prediction contests to be run, later races to plug, etc.   With all the many chess kibitzers around, why this isn't done in real time on the official site is beyond me.
By the way, Anand is so far defending his title. He's ahead of Topolov, a former world champion, 3.5 to 2.5, with the 12 game match at the halfway point.

Update: A more useful commentary is available here http://live.chessdom.com/anand-topalov-2010-g6.html , which seems to be available live as the game is played -- but I haven't tried that yet.

Available a few hours after the games are over are these videos from KingsCrusher, the ChessWorld guru. These are also on YouTube:

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