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Old 01-19-2008, 03:13 PM
richardhutnik richardhutnik is offline
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Default Bobby Fischer's dead. Why no chess on TV?

To bring up a prior thread, but worth bringing it up again, in light of Bobby Fischer passing away.

Bobby Fischer's death is in the news, and causes people to remember the 1970s, when chess was king, and people tuned into PBS to watch chess. Chess was a culturally iconic back then. I remember reading Mad Magazine when I was a kid, and they actually did a spoof with a chess based superhero. Fischer made all the magazine covers, and it was WWIII on the board. It wasn't just the Cold War either. When America beat Russia in the Winter Olympics at hockey, and played them, there wasn't an outbreak of hockey all over, like there was with Chess. I remember when I was a kid in the 1970s, there was a chess store that opened up near where I lived.

So, what has happened here? There is no chess on TV now. Rock, Paper, Scissors made it to ESPN. Hot dog eating made ESPN. Poker is all over TV. Scrabble is on TV also. But, there isn't chess. As far as I know, no one has even bothered to pick up the rights to the World Mind Sport Games in China either for western broadcast. The event has Chess, Checkers, Go, Chinese Chess, and Bridge also, and is pretty big event (first of its kind, and an offshoot of the Olympics). There was a chess championship for over $1.5 million in Mexico last year, and no one even knew of it, outside of the chess world.

So, again I ask, why is there no chess on TV? Also, any ideas what can be done to get it on TV? Chess could open the doorway for a lot of boardgames ending up on TV, if it could be on TV and remain there. My take is the pacing of the moves, plus excessive amount of draws where players score equally for the draw, are two major factors why not.

Please don't get me started about American Gladiator being back, or the fact that guys fixing motorcycles has a TV show. I can close by saying a program about people have dirty jobs actually is on TV now. Come on! All this and no chess?
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Old 01-19-2008, 04:32 PM
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great post richard.

I think alot of it is that Chess has no intriguing superstars. Fischer was so popular in his day because he was controversial. he stormed out of tournaments because of lighting, he made demands that had to be met or else he would withdraw completely. in short, he made the game aesthetically pleasing for what became the television-era audience by making himself an attraction to come an watch. then, to top it all off, he was one of the greatest players ever. he talked a big game and he backed it up.

who is there in Chess to take on that role now? most Chess players spend their time talking over-eloquently, trying to be too cerebral, giving wordy look-how-smart-I-am interviews like they're giving a valedictorian speech. they're just not real to the average person, they try to sound like geniuses just because they understand Chess which ends up making them sound, well, extremely nerdy. most people can't relate to that. Chess needs someone who doesn't play by the rules...and is good. an no, Chess enthusiasts, that doesn't mean showing up less than 15 minutes before the tourney starts or using an unapproved type of pencil. it means be yourself, take some chances, be a star.

I'm sure both of us will watch Chess anytime it's on TV. I watch all of the tournaments live on Chessbase and can't get enough. it's because we're interested. Chess needs some drama, Jerry Springer/American Gladiator pre-scripted drama. Kramnik needs to develop a drinking problem. Anand needs to smack his wife for interrupting his post-game analysis. and players in time-control have to take shots. hey, what time is that on?
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Old 01-19-2008, 05:19 PM
richardhutnik richardhutnik is offline
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Thanks.

However, in what I have seen people give reasons why not, I can think of a counterexample:
1. Players are too boring and non stars, and not exciting enough. Well, poker has some characters, but is supposed to be played without emoting (aka the poker face). Also, Jeopardy consists of nerds on stage and is watched.
1a. Not enough American stars. And the NBA, NHL, tennis, golf, etc... have what now? One of the biggest NBA stars is from China. Dirk is German.
2. Chess is too complicated. Well, football is more complicated, but it is on TV. Checkers is less complicated, but it isn't on TV.
3. Chess takes too long to play. Poker takes HOURS for people to play in big games. It is edited. No excuse here either is valid.
4. I would rather die than watch chess. That is not a reason, it is a whine session.
5. Not enough money in chess. Chess had a $1.5 million world championship. Scrabble $50,000. Rock, Paper, Scissors $10,000. The last two made TV. Chess didn't.
6. Chess, by its nature, just isn't watchable. What about the 1970s?
6a. Well, 1970s had bad programming and not much else. How come there are 1970s sit-coms on TV now and old gameshows from the 1970s?
7. Players don't emote enough around the play area, so don't project their personalities. Why then is Golf on TV and has its own network?

Anyhow, reasons I see people listing don't explain it.

I believe personally it is the pacing that is wrong between moves, and also the game isn't explained enough. This has to do with how tournament level chess is structured (not the game chess itself), and also how it is presented.
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Old 01-19-2008, 05:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richardhutnik View Post
1. Players are too boring and non stars, and not exciting enough. Well, poker has some characters, but is supposed to be played without emoting (aka the poker face). Also, Jeopardy consists of nerds on stage and is watched.
1a. Not enough American stars. And the NBA, NHL, tennis, golf, etc... have what now? One of the biggest NBA stars is from China. Dirk is German.
2. Chess is too complicated. Well, football is more complicated, but it is on TV. Checkers is less complicated, but it isn't on TV.
3. Chess takes too long to play. Poker takes HOURS for people to play in big games. It is edited. No excuse here either is valid.
4. I would rather die than watch chess. That is not a reason, it is a whine session.
5. Not enough money in chess. Chess had a $1.5 million world championship. Scrabble $50,000. Rock, Paper, Scissors $10,000. The last two made TV. Chess didn't.
6. Chess, by its nature, just isn't watchable. What about the 1970s?
6a. Well, 1970s had bad programming and not much else. How come there are 1970s sit-coms on TV now and old gameshows from the 1970s?
7. Players don't emote enough around the play area, so don't project their personalities. Why then is Golf on TV and has its own network?

I believe personally it is the pacing that is wrong between moves, and also the game isn't explained enough. This has to do with how tournament level chess is structured (not the game chess itself), and also how it is presented.
For conversations sake, I'll play devil's advocate for each of these:

1. people would stop watching Poker if there were no flamboyant players, and also if that's all there were. I think it's more like reality TV for them. they pick their favorite out, the one they can relate to, and then root for that player. and jeopardy is on in the afternoon and not at 8pm

1a. I'm not sure there have been any American stars since BF, but there have obviously been some very strong players. they just don't play up the "We're representing America" like Fischer did. and they should. look at women's soccer. when they became "America's team" people started watching. it also didn't hurt that the shirt-raising goal incident got lots of publicity.

2. yes, football is complicated too. but people can understand it on a basic level more quickly. what just happend? he scored a touchdown? ok i see the six points. when someone wins a pawn in Chess we think wow it's basically over now. a bystander says, "Huh? look how many more pieces are out there! He still has his Queen." football also has the "on any given sunday" aspect that anyone can win. Chess does too, but not that much.

3. unedited Chess just can't work. that's longer than a football game which has breaks at every quarter and even halftime with entertainment. there are many times in a Chess match where you could leave, do some light shopping and come back to find that they haven't even made a move yet. if you don't try to understand the position yourself, it just looks like they're trying to light the board on fire with there mind by concentrating on it really, really hard.

4.

5. there's definitely money at the highest levels of Chess, but mostly for the average player there are only trophies and very modest prize pools. only a select few even have the option of being invited to play for that money.

6. and 6a. People are desensitized now. turn on any channel. Chess has basically no movement. lots of bad lighting. sometimes the events are held in gymnasiums. I'm sure a TV producer would almost be embarrassed to even bring the option up to his superiors. it's unfortunate, but unless there's a different angle I'm guessing it's an uphill battle.

7. I'm not sure there. don't forget about baseball. I can fall asleep during the highlights of the game. the highlights.

it keeps coming back to upping the time controls. however, I don't see the top-level players agreeing to it. the longer time controls are classical, the conditions under which their predecessors played. it's what they're compared against. unless someone can come up with an incentive that can draw the current superstars into a faster format it's going to take a firebrand to come along and generate interest IMO before the game we all enjoy gets the kind of recognition it deserves.
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Old 01-19-2008, 08:09 PM
richardhutnik richardhutnik is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chessandpoker View Post
it keeps coming back to upping the time controls. however, I don't see the top-level players agreeing to it. the longer time controls are classical, the conditions under which their predecessors played. it's what they're compared against. unless someone can come up with an incentive that can draw the current superstars into a faster format it's going to take a firebrand to come along and generate interest IMO before the game we all enjoy gets the kind of recognition it deserves.
Well, if the players won't play under different time controls, then edit the chess matches, compress the time, and pump it into a booth where the moves are evenly spaced timewise, and enough time for analysis and play by play put in there. The commentators haven't seen the match and they are given a lot of aids, and the people watching also, as to the state of the game. You don't show the people how much time the players have until a player is under the gun.

And you do heavy reality TV editing. I believe this is what they do with poker. You can go to the World Series of Poker and watch the players for free.
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Old 01-19-2008, 08:31 PM
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Poker got it's huge TV boost when they introduced the hole-card cam. all of a sudden, you could see what the top players were doing: they were bluffing like crazy! until that point, players pretty much thought everyone played straight forward Poker, raise with strong hands and fold the weak ones. now the secret was out and people started understanding more about the game. with Chess, edited games with commentary overlapped is the only comparison.

it's frustrating that most people don't follow Chess in the mainstream. it's so deep and it makes your mind sharpen up. it's day will come but
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Old 01-20-2008, 03:44 AM
richardhutnik richardhutnik is offline
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Well, my take is that two things happened with poker.

First, you pointed out a major one. The pocket cam was invented by the creator of the Transformers, Henry Orenstein, who tried to watch poker on ESPN, and found it sucked. He couldn't follow the action so he invented the pocket cam (Mr. Orenstein actually won a WSOP bracelet in Stud poker). The UK picked it up and it got good ratings.

The second thing that happened was a threatened writer's strike. This meant reality TV programming, and the need to develop a new editing format for TV, and new programming. The end result was poker took off. It would be as you said that players play players and not just the cards, which lead interest. I actually got interested in Hold'Em because of TV, and poker wasn't just stud or whatever, with half the deck wild. It actually looked like a strategy game, and not just one of bluff.

I believe chess, or another abstract strategy game, needs to break through, and shown it can get good ratings. Of course, it has its own set of issues:
1. The games are predictable. Everything is out in the open. It is like looking at a jigsaw puzzle. Unless it is turned more into a sport, with more surprise at the table, it isn't going to want to be watched. You can mess around with the clock format and also the points to get closer. Like using a version of the Bronstein clock, and allowing players during the match to reduce the amount of delay a player has before they have to make a move.
2. The pacing sucks. This is where reality TV comes in. Either force players to make moves within one minute, or edit out the gap. You want JUST enough time to do presentation and analysis, but not a longer time to wait for a move. No one today will stand for that.
3. With chess, fix the draw PLEASE. The end result of a match, even if draw, should be like boxing without a knockout. One player wins the draw on points somehow. Maybe have it the player who has more time on the clock or something else.

What you could do with chess is reframe it as a battle over time, where the player who can force his opponent to use up more time, or go over too many turns from the time delay, wins the match, the same way a boxing match is won without knockout. People can relate to someone winning on time, and if you add proper scoring, they could follow it. They won't grasp the full strategy, and details (the same way that people can't relate to all the plays in football), but there is SOMETHING watchable by people who don't play normally.

You can see a suggested idea I had for chess here, that makes the chess clock resemble an American football game:
[url]http://abstractgamers.org/forums/comments.php?DiscussionID=183&page=1#Item_1[/url]

You could also just have it more standard clocks, but have it score a point for a player if they take over the delay time. You use time outs for larger time blocks.
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Old 01-20-2008, 03:48 AM
richardhutnik richardhutnik is offline
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By the way, if anyone here wants to go with the idea of scoring a point if your opponent takes over a minute to move, and whomever has the most points wins the draw advantage, please try it out and see how it works.
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Old 01-20-2008, 02:30 PM
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check this out richard. this is exactly what I'm talking about. Chess players are so rules oriented this guy forfeited his match because he didn't do a handshake. i've highlighted the extremely ridiculous portions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chessbase
As regular readers of my reports will know, I usually try to start with a light-hearted digression. Today, however, I have to report something far more serious, indeed, one of the most extraordinary episodes I have ever heard of, let alone witnessed, at an international chess tournament. It occurred in the B Group, where Britain’s Nigel Short is playing. Today he faced Ivan Cheparinov, with the white pieces. Short came to the board, and with his opponent absent, he played the move 1.e4, and walked away. A few minutes later, Cheparinov came to the board, sat down, and played 1…c5. As Short came over, and held out his hand for the traditional pre-game handshake, Cheparinov pointedly kept his head down over the board and his scoresheet. After a few moments, Short sat down, and waited for Cheparinov to raise his head. When he did so, Short again extended his hand, only for Cheparinov to shrug in refusal.

Short then stood up and approached the arbiter, pointing out that his opponent’s actions are a breach of FIDE rules, which prescribe an immediate forfeit as the penalty for refusing the handshake. The arbiter was not even aware of this rule, which was announced only recently. He was asked to check, and after going away to do so, he duly found it on the FIDE website. After consulting with Cheparinov, and explaining the situation, the arbiter told Short that Cheparinov was now prepared to shake hands after all. However, given that he had already twice refused to do so, and that Short’s equanimity had by now been totally destroyed, the latter insisted that the offence had already occurred, and that Cheparinov should be forfeited. “It was clearly a calculated insult”, said Short. The arbiter was forced to agree, and the official tournament record now shows the game Short-Cheparinov as having gone 1.e4 c5 1-0.
gimme a friggin' break. mommy mommy, he didn't shake my hand. that's against the rules!! I need my binky. I've lost all respect for Nigel Short, and it just reinforces the ridiculousness of these players nitpicking the rules. PLAY CHESS! These are the people we have representing the game at it's highest levels. it's a joke. these are the same types of situations that lead to 3 years between title matches because they battle over and over again on the simplest of details.

Cheparinov was just trying to be a star, and look where it got him!

Blog post here.
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Old 01-20-2008, 04:23 PM
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My take on the Short incident is that it does show what is wrong with Chess today. I will argue for a slightly different reason. Odds are that incident was the most exciting part of the chess match, so it being in there ends up being at least SOME drama to an otherwise boring event. At least it is unexpected, and people can get emotionally involved. At least now you have a villain you can boo and root against. For chess to get on TV, people need to get emotional about it.

Only other thing that might create drama would be if a fist fight broke out over this. Hey, if it is in the rules, it is in the rules, and you have comment Short for his bit of gamemanship, that actually caused an all-so-rare win to happen in Chess at the highest level.

The real trick is, how can you remain true to how most people play chess, but also add sufficient drama, excitement and other induction of other emotional states in people, than non-chess players can actually get interested.

Last edited by richardhutnik; 01-20-2008 at 04:24 PM. Reason: Round out thought.
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Old 01-20-2008, 04:41 PM
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If this is the bad-boy of Chess, we're in big trouble
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Old 01-21-2008, 04:00 AM
richardhutnik richardhutnik is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chessandpoker View Post
If this is the bad-boy of Chess, we're in big trouble
Well, it is more of a sign of how bad things are for attracting people not into chess, into it :-)
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Old 01-24-2008, 04:39 AM
richardhutnik richardhutnik is offline
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Nigel Short is apparently a bigger thing than Madonna in Iceland:
[URL="http://www.chessbase.com/columns/column.asp?pid=3"]http://www.chessbase.com/columns/column.asp?pid=3[/URL]
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Old 03-10-2008, 10:38 AM
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We should always remember the great men of the past . There nust be some kind of celebrations on their anniversaries . If we are a freat nation we shouldn't forget the great men or the heroes in the past .
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Old 03-10-2008, 03:50 PM
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Default Chess and Poker on TV

just thougt i would put my 2 cents in.

I have a film guy willing to film a chess and poker event.

Perhaps when i finally get an event going here in canada, this will be a start...

See how it turns out.
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Old 03-12-2008, 03:34 PM
richardhutnik richardhutnik is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheNic View Post
just thougt i would put my 2 cents in.

I have a film guy willing to film a chess and poker event.

Perhaps when i finally get an event going here in canada, this will be a start...

See how it turns out.
Please keep me posted. If you will get this going, I could possibly help get players going. The key is going to be able to get the chess side to be enjoyable to watch by people who don't know chess.

Get in touch with me again private about this.
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Old 03-19-2008, 07:41 PM
richardhutnik richardhutnik is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chessandpoker View Post
Cheparinov was just trying to be a star, and look where it got him!

Blog post [URL="http://www.chessandpoker.com/blog/2008/01/20/nigel-short-is-a-complete-loser/"]here[/URL].
So is this the video of the incident in question (Nigel Short's hand is not shook)?:
[URL="http://www.chessmovies.com/index.php?id=106"]http://www.chessmovies.com/index.php?id=106[/URL]
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