Tele­vised Chess? St. Louis cen­ter is now broad­cast­ing cham­pi­onships

The China Post - - SPORTS -

Some may not see chess as a broad­cast-ready sport, but U.S. bil­lion­aire Rex Sin­que­field dis­agrees.

Tak­ing a cue from tele­vised poker, the Chess Club and Scholas­tic Cen­ter of St. Louis that Sin­que­field founded is tak­ing a new step to bring at­ten­tion to chess with a live-stream­ing broad­cast com­plete with run­ning com­men­tary.

The U.S. Chess Cham­pi­onships started this week and run through April 14. The St. Louis Post-Dis­patch re­ports that Sin­que­field had a state-of-the-art tele­vi­sion stu­dio in­stalled.

Com­men­ta­tors will fol­low up to 12 matches at a time, cut­ting away to cap­ture moves as they oc­cur while fill­ing in time with anal­y­sis of matches and play­ing styles.

Mau­rice Ash­ley, the first black grand­mas­ter, is de­liv­er­ing chess match com­men­tary.

“The next move could de­cide the match,” Ash­ley said dur­ing one en­counter. “Six­teen-year-old Kay­den Troff, play­ing in just his sec­ond na­tional cham­pi­onship, fac­ing Hikaru Naka­mura, the top-ranked player in the coun­try. Troff reaches for his bishop — but that’s a move that an­a­lysts and com­put­ers say could prove fa­tal ...”

Ash­ley, 49, of New York, is lead­ing a team of com­men­ta­tors cov­er­ing two dozen of the na­tion’s lead­ing play­ers, in­clud­ing Naka­mura and Troff, Ray Rob­son, Irina Krush, Tatev Abra­hamyan, Sam Shank­land, Alisa Melekhina and Sabina Foisor.

The new stu­dio is equipped with 20 cam­eras. Some play­ers are wear­ing high-def­i­ni­tion per­sonal cam­eras for close-ups of their moves.

The

broad­casts

are

l i ve- streamed at Chess24. com and USChessChamps.com. Or­ga­niz­ers hope to put the matches on ca­ble tele­vi­sion next year.

Ash­ley has made a ca­reer of chess by coach­ing and lec­tur­ing on it. His fel­low com­men­ta­tors are Jen­nifer Sha­hade, a two-time women’s na­tional cham­pion, and Yasser Seirawan, a four-time na­tional cham­pion.

“We try to get into the mind of each player to help peo­ple connect to the game who may not be to­tally familiar with chess,” Ash­ley said.

In ad­di­tion to US$250,000 in to­tal prizes for the over­all and women’s cham­pi­ons, a US$64,000 prize will be awarded to any player who du­pli­cates Bobby Fischer’s per­fect game.

The an­nual Sin­que­field Cup, played in St. Louis in Au­gust and in­clud­ing in­ter­na­tional play­ers, awards a US$100,000 first prize.

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