With Viswanathan Anand producing vintage form in the on-going World Candidates chess tournament, India’s interest in the elite event is obvious, evident from the ‘hits’ recorded by the new-interactive website of the World Chess Federation (FIDE).
All other private websites have been overshadowed by this revolutionary platform that relays the moves in almost real-time. It is the brain work of a young Indian.
Sandeep Singh, 22, is the man FIDE’s Chief Executive Officer Geoffrey Borg turned to in November last when the governing body was looking to revamp its live coverage of this much-awaited event. “It was during the World championship in Chennai when Mr. Borg saw my work,” recalls Sandeep.
“Since he has a background of Information Technology (IT), Mr. Borg showed interest in the way the chess coverage was being handled. I think, he particularly liked the way the damage-control exercise we carried out after the servers crashed for seven minutes at the start of the first round. We got the coverage back on rails in just 15 minutes. That impressed Mr. Borg.”
Mr. Borg had his reasons. Several servers crashed during the final round of the last edition of Candidates in London last March. FIDE was obviously worried.
“We were given just three months to provide a platform for the new-look website. We (at Guru Infoways), prepared the software to display boards for live moves, video feed, incorporated analysis by world’s best chess engine, Houdini 4 Pro, and added the facility to tweet, all on one screen” says Sandeep. There is also a lighter version of the web page, without video, for mobile phones and slow internet connections.
The result so far has been superlative. In each round, the site has averaged 2,00,000 visitors from 8,400 cities spread over 180 countries.
“The site is getting millions of hits because this FIDE software transfers a move within 0.884 seconds as compared to four seconds by rival, private websites,” says Sandeep with pride. Interestingly, Armenia’s capital Yerevan tops the list of viewers with 5.47 per cent.