This was always expected to be the most followed World chess championship ever. What wasn’t expected was that the television coverage would attract so many eyeballs, around the world.
“I have been producing television coverage for more than 25 years and have covered all the World championships since 2000, but I too am surprised by the reach of this match,” says Vijay Kumar, the man in charge of the much-appreciated live chess show from the venue.
“DD Sports, which airs all the games live, is available in 48 countries, in many of which there is a huge interest for chess, and we are also providing the visuals to channels in Russia and Norway.”
Because the organisers have decided to make available the full television coverage on the Internet — not only on the official website (chennai2013.fide.com) but also on YouTube — it has ensured that one need not be in front of the television.
“Millions have been watching the game on our website and we have ensured enough servers for uninterrupted coverage,” says Bharat Singh Chauhan, CEO, All India Chess Federation. “I think one of the reasons the coverage has succeeded is because our commentators have made the game easier to follow.”
Grandmasters Susan Polgar (former women’s World champion) and R.B. Ramesh, and International Masters Lawrence Trent and Tania Sachdev are the regular commentators.
“Polgar is very experienced as a player and Trent is a fine broadcaster. We roped in Ramesh and Tania as the two Indian voices,” says Vijay. “Tania also provides the glamour element, which we need for television.”
The commentators have become overnight celebrities. One can see them signing autographs and posing for photographs with fans outside the studio at the venue. Tania saw her followers on Twitter have gone up from 40-odd to close to 2500 during the course of the match. “My followers too went up by more than a thousand, I guess,” says Trent.
Vijay feels the World championship has proved that chess had possibilities on television. “When I was requested by the organisers to cover chess for television, I was told them it had no scope on television,” he says. “I am happy to have been proved wrong. I would have been happier had Anand won today and made a match of it.”