Only few hours are now left before the start of the Candidates tournament in Moscow. It would be better of course to see the tournament preview instead of this text – along with forecasts, participants’ portraits and others. They will show up, no doubt but I also want to say a few words about another topic before that. I’m speaking about the decision of “Agon” to forbid the games broadcast (together with on-line comments that have long been our hallmark).
Internet seems to be excited about this news and some colleagues have told their reclamations about this decision (as a matter of fact there are no regulations and conditions for retranslation, which eventually means that the tournament becomes somebody’s monopoly). I do share some of those reclamations and I am highly convinced that the majority of those reclamations do not take into consideration all the set of tasks and problems that “Agon” has to face, though these problems are global and quite big ones in fact and in order to resolve them you need to have collective efforts in place.
FIDE and “Agon” have done a lot in recent years but they are still far away from their major goal – to turn chess into a commercial sport. Last Agon’s decision means that the problem is yet being solved in a standard way using a sort of a template, and nobody isn’t even trying to hide it. In order to explain their steps the company representatives use phrases “like in football” or “like in tennis”.
Chess is unique however. It isn’t brought to the Earth from space of course so the game is still a subject of earthborn rules, but this is a specific activity and you need to remember that. Firstly chess is not at all a TV sport. It is simply not created for any TV format. Can you imagine a person sitting in front of his TV set and watching two players’ faces for 5 hours. Our game still had not few mimic genius but even this can’t keep your attention for long hours. This is because all the action is performed behind-the-scenes – you can’t see anything particular on their faces. That’s why you are unable to discuss any attractiveness for the audience. Chess shall never become a TV sport – people will soon feel boring. Carlsen who manage to get to the Norwegian TV is an exception that once again proves the rule
Although this so-called ‘’Chess in the TV” mantra has been repeated for many years but still couldn’t bring us to this very goal safely and well. I’ve heard this fairy-tale for twenty years but this way is just wrong. You need to understand that.
In order to make chess popular you need to take into consideration these issues. We’ve got our strong points as well. It’s an internet sport. Totally. So It’s more evident to use Internet reserves.
In order to raise money and attract good sponsors, you don’t always need to forbid or prohibit anything. Internet instead is a free zone and “Agon” would achieve more success if it uses its advantages.
Instead of localizing the whole traffic on its official site, “Agon” could have developed a web-template in order to broadcast top-level tournaments. And the company could thus spread its “web” everywhere in the world. Other sites that want to broadcast tournaments could distribute this page but in that case they shall be obliged to broadcast all the publicity from “Agon” sponsors
“Agon” could also offer a code pattern of this page, video code or pgn-file reference that meet this criteria. In that case the sponsors’ interests wouldn’t be infringed. To tell you more the publicity shall be broadcasted throughout the world. It will also increase the audience.
An open counter should become an obligatory element of these pages in order to allow “Agon” and its sponsors to have a full statistic review. Statistic data here is critical because such counter is actually a milestone for any effective media-manager (We usually have no idea about the statistic data of official sites. It is not revealed publically. We are told about thousands and millions of visitors but these figures don’t give any real clue about the situation, while the hosts are also forgotten – so there’s a mess in the application of such terms). The chess advantage (and its wonderful adaptability to a huge internet audience) is actually destroyed by the abovementioned interdictions – you never see such a monopoly in any other sport.
There’s no need to fight other sites – people watch the games where they are used to do it before. It doesn’t bother “Agon” to achieve its goals. It’s actually quite the opposite. I described one of the possible mechanisms above.
That’s why I would rather choose the first option and say Yes.