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I want to experience the best chess competition is where the most experienced players around the globe participate.

Is there such a contest? Or is it too boring to watch chess tournament because it takes too long to finish? Which TV station broadcasts the most supreme chess contests?

Lastly, is a chess game as fascinating as El Clásico (a soccer game between FC Barçelona and Real Madrid)

  • Spanish television broadcasted live the last game of the 1987 World Championship – David Jun 2 at 10:03
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Update to add a list of top regular events, per request: These are some of the annual tournaments that are regularly made up largely of elite players (say, from the top 10 in the world).

  • Dortmund
  • London Chess Classic
  • Pearl Spring Chess Tournament (Nanjing, China)
  • Tal Memorial (Moscow)
  • Tata Steel Chess Tournament (Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands)

Some events like this which have recently struggled to exist, but which might come back, include Linares and the Bazna Kings tournament. And the Chess Olympiad is a biennial international team competition (sort of the World Cup of chess).


I can't speak to the situation globally, but in my country (USA) there certainly isn't chess programming to be found on television. (I do recall the sports channel ESPN experimenting with broadcasts of elite blitz chess in the late 1990s, including very enthusiastic commentary by Maurice Ashley, but the experiment was short-lived. And way back during the 1972 Fischer-Spassky match, PBS covered it in a way.) Here at least, the problem is simply that the chess playing audience is way too small. Because of that, televised chess would indeed be boring to most of the population, but I don't think that the issue is with chess being inherently too boring to watch. That is, while people who already have no use for chess would find it boring, I think chess fans very often do enjoy watching live coverage of events. (So in this regard chess viewing is no different from other sports or forms of entertainment.)

This is borne out when one looks beyond television, as there is plenty of live coverage of top chess events on the internet. Some that have had particularly well-executed coverage of late:


Perhaps worth mentioning here: from 1976 to 1982, BBC2 in the UK ran a chess show called The Master Game, in which top players of the day would compete in elimination tournaments, and voice-overs were edited in later, so as to appear to give the players' thought processes as they occurred during the game. (For example, here's an episode featuring a game between Walter Browne and John Nunn. Many more of these have been uploaded to YouTube.) I for one would love to see another show done in this manner.

The most recent Botvinnik Memorial rapid tournament (involving Anand, Kramnik, Aronian, Carlsen) tried to do something like this with its live stream. They actually paused the games halfway through each round, and got the players to give their thoughts on how the games were going. That didn't seem to work as well, in my opinion, as it just seemed like an awkward pause in the action, but it was a nice idea.

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  • Okay, I understand that it's not interesting to broadcast this on ESPN/BBC. But are there prestigious contests organized (like soccer World Cup every 4 years)? If yes, which? – Tassisto Jul 9 '12 at 13:23
  • @SirProgrammer, ah I see, you are also wondering what the most prestigious chess events are, regardless of their coverage? It seems that both Robert and I misinterpreted that part of your question. I'll edit my answer a bit. – ETD Jul 9 '12 at 13:27
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I don't think there has been any televised chess tournaments in the English speaking world since the 90s with the Short-Kasparov matches.

From the 1970s through the 1980s there was a show on BBC2 called the Master Game. It seems that some of the episodes have been put on YouTube. See this article as well.

I really think that the major problem with televised chess tournaments in the decade that we live in right now is 3 fold:

  1. There is not enough money in it to attract any but a niche network.
  2. Serious chess coverage has migrated to the Internet and sites like PlayChess.com (from ChessBase), ICC, and Chess.com. Streaming video from these sites can reach a much wider audience than live broadcasts on BBC or ESPN.
  3. The format is not very good for modern TV. The average viewer wants action. It's a sad comment on our society, but we live in the age of reality TV, not in an age where chess is actually appreciated.
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  • I'll say #3 is the entire reason. The same thing killed straight pool which used to be televised. 9-ball turned out to be more TV friendly. Live televised chess would be like watching baseball with 5 minutes between pitches. Imagine the inane commentary, lol. – Tony Ennis Jul 9 '12 at 14:07
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At chess.com most grandmasters (tagged GM) can be found, casually playing all day; you can watch them train. Whenever there's a significant tourney, you'll be able to find it broadcast there, with professional commentary.

On Twitch and YouTube there's a lot of it as well; just search “chess” and enjoy; there are plenty of masters, analysts, and teachers there to watch all day. Currently, the best players are the World Champion Magnus Carlsen (Norway) and the runner-up Fabiano Caruana (USA). Hikaru Nakamura (USA) is also a strong contender, with millions of fans worldwide. Anything between these guys is El Clásico.

I'd recommend you to find a chess club in your area (easy to locate nowadays) so that you'll be aware of the happening, especially those most relevant for your region.

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