A Fide survey had put out data that showed chess was more popular than football -- 605 million to 265 million worldwide play the game. Still chess is not regarded as a popular sport. That is because it is not a television sport or conducive for showing it on digital platforms.
But hold on! The success of Queens Gambit seems to have changed the perception people have of chess. For the cerebral game, things may change for the better. Europes leading sports channel, Eurosport, has secured the rights to show a full season of the tournament in 52 countries, including India. Discovery + will telecast the matches, the first of which will begin on November 22.
This should be a new chapter in Indian chess, said a top Indian GM. Now people can watch it on TV and lets see how it is received. I am very happy about it, said Harikrishna. Equally upbeat about the development was GM Pravin Thipsay. It is a positive development and an opportunity for the game to expand. There is fighting within the chess association (AICF), otherwise it would have been a good opportunity to expand the horizon of Indian chess, Thipsay said.
Play Magnus CEO Andreas Thome said: By partnering with a leading sports network like Eurosport, we are able to bring chess entertainment to a whole new audience and increase our reach globally. Instead of exploring a traditional sale of the rights, we have decided to focus on working closely together with Eurosport to develop chess. A Eurosport official added, Play Magnus Group is known for innovating and modernising a game played by over 650 million people globally.
Thipsay vaguely remembers chess being shown live in 1995 when Doordarshan had telecast the Vishy Anand-Garry Kaspaprov PCA World Championship. But that did not exactly push the game into TV screens. The 2013 World Championship match between Anand and Carlsen, held in Chennai, was not live on Indian television.
The only time the world was glued to the television sets for chess was when Bobby Fischer was ending the Russian Chess supremacy by taking on Boris Spassky in the 1972 World Chess Championship. But then those were different days.
Schedule of Champions Chess Tour 22-30 November: Regular ($100,000 prize) 26 December - 3 January: Major ($200,000 prize) 6-14 February: Regular ($100,000 prize) 13-21 March: Major ($200,000 prize) 24 April 2 May: Regular ($100,000 prize) 22-30 May: Regular ($100,000 prize)
* Players will be able to qualify for the Majors from regular events
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