Chess, the ‘Net and OverKill
The Amazing Peter Svidler
While not wanting to disparage any of the other wonderful chess commentators out there on the internet — many of whom have popular YouTube channels — I believe that Grandmaster Peter Svidler is in a class by himself.
In many ways, he reminds me of the late David Bronstein, the author of probably one of the top 5 chess books of modern time: Zurich 1953.
Peter’s mastery of the english language, his skill in communicating EXACTLY what he wants to get across and his ability to engage the viewer and align him/her on the same wavelength. Not to mention his unique craft of explaining in lay terms the essence of the nuance behind the chess moves themselves…
Jan Gustafsson’s wise decision to convince Svidler to join his Chess24 team has obviously transformed the website into the #1 chess site for LIVE commentary, atleast as far as I am concerned.
Svidler’s indepth summary of yesterday’s epic battle between world #2 Fabiano Caruana and up and coming Iranian superstar Ali Firouzja is nothing short of brilliant.
Why This Turns Off the General Public
While I — as an experienced grandmaster — can fully appreciate Svidler’s insights, I also realize why the general public would be put off from the game of chess after watching Peter for several minutes.
Peter is all about skill and the communication of that skill. He is thorough and rigorous. He leaves no stone unturned. He is able to EXPLAIN EVERYTHING. And brilliantly.
Unfortunately, the general public does not want an autopsy of the game. Today’s online public has a short attention span and a low tolerance for ponderous detail. Today’s online public demands to be entertained.
In chess commentary today on the internet, unfortunately, the heros are the chess pieces. First and foremost is the OBJECTIVE TRUTH behind each move. Only of secondary concern are the players’ ideas, plans and ambitions. I am certain that Peter Svidler himself understands this very well.
Spectator sports need heros…like Christiano Ronaldo in football or Roger Federer in tennis. In these sports, the ball is never the hero.
And that is why chess commentary, as it is today on the internet, is killing the game as a spectator sport. Analyzing to death a position reveals the players as flawed athletes, not Ronaldo-type heros.
It is important for the online chess community to STOP glorifying the game at the expense of the players. There is urgent need for compromise. Promoting the beauty of the game, no matter how subjective and flawed and imperfect that beauty may be, must be the real message for online commentators to transmit.
I am not certain how that can be done given what the online chess community has become, but if chess has any future on the ‘net then things have to change. And quickly.