Our Great Idea

Asim Pereira on broadcasting USSR–World 1970 as if it was a live event


With no more over-the-board competitions going on, chess sites started to transmit a historic event that made history fifty years ago. ChessTech found the man who had this marvellous idea. Here is his story.

FollowChess App: USSR vs World
FollowChess App: USSR vs World (Screenshot)

“The Candidates was the last of the human events to stop. After that we had no other event to broadcast on Follow Chess. I was discussing with my colleague Shubham if we could show anything from chess history which had occurred on that very day and broadcast it ‘live’, round by round. That evening we noticed a tweet by Douglas Griffin, a chess historian from Scotland: On the next day it would be exactly fifty years since the match USSR vs the World in Belgrade. We contacted Douglas and he kindly sent us annotations to some of the games.

We could not figure out the exact hour when the rounds had started back then, so we decided to use Follow Chess primetime, which is the early evening in Europe. We just had time enough to enter the annotations since we didn’t want to show only the bare moves. We wanted to show them at the pace in which they were probably played but not all historical games still have their move times intact. So we thought of showing the round over a 2–3 hour period. Due to a glitch the transmission of the first round lasted less than half an hour. We fixed that for the remaining rounds. On the day, after round one both Chess.com and Playchess also broadcasted the games as if they were played live. Chess.com wanted to credit us for the idea but referred to someone who bagged our name on Twitter before our app even existed. Ours is @FollowChessApp. It was a fun moment!

We received a lot of positive feedback from our users on bringing to life these historic games. I haven’t looked at the numbers in detail, but at least half of the active Follow Chess users have looked at USSR vs the World. Now that federations are shifting official tournaments online, we are talking to these online servers about showing them. If we get the moves feed, we will try to transmit the Magnus Carlsen Invitational, too. Our eyes are already on 24th April and our next historic transmission: it is exactly ten years since the world championship Anand – Topalov.”
(as told to Stefan Löffler)

Team Follow Chess: Asim on the left and Shubham on the right
Team Follow Chess: Asim on the left and Shubham on the right (private)

Asim Pereira is a Bangalore based IT engineer & Entrepreneur. He founded MyChessApps in 2011, where he developed an app to show the Anand – Carlsen world championship and consequently launched Follow Chess in 2014. MyChessApps was acquired by Infivention (the company that owns Square Off) in 2019. Follow Asim on https://twitter.com/asimpereira