The first world championship match after the online boom and The Queen’s Gambit has broken internet viewership records for chess competitions. More than hundred live streams have been following the games. Chess.com and chess24 both hired extra staff to produce multiple streams in different languages. Just before the match, the Russian entrepreneur Ilya Levitov launched an ambitious Russian language chess server. Levitovchess has also first rate content in English. Dozens of chess sites and chess youtubers offer video recaps. So many strong grandmasters have been commenting regularly or occasionally that those not on air became tipped to be seconds of either Carlsen or Nepomniachtchi.
The first time a world championship match is held in an Arabic-speaking country is hardly making strides to grow the game among Arabic-speakers.
While some of the coverage sets high standards for chess commentary. What is missing is a place that assembles the best explanations and predictions. There is also lots of light-hearted stuff like baking omelets, head shaving, or stumbling around the match venue. Plenty of coverage is in English, Russian, Spanish, German and Norwegian, but little in Arabic. The first time a world championship match is held in an Arabic-speaking country is hardly making strides to grow the game among Arabic-speakers.
FIDE has taken back control over the match organisation, which largely follows the playbook of earlier matches. The schedule has been tightened to two rest days per week rather than one every three days, and two games have been added to make it 14, if the match goes the full distance. Unlike the former world championship organiser, FIDE is encouraging everyone to transmit the game and also feeds pictures to the media. The former organiser World Chess is still on the page as representative of the sponsors Kaspersky and Algorand it brought in and by selling the story of its imminent IPO and merch. World Chess has announced its own chess-themed NFTs following the Champions Chess Tour and FIDE marketplace. Even Judit Polgár tries to benefit from the NFT hype.
While Chessable is a match sponsor, the Champions Chess Tour and FIDE are becoming competitors in the search for event sponsors. MasterCard, a sponsor of the Expo 2020 in Dubai, has picked Magnus Carlsen and the Champions Chess Tour over a possible engagement at the match. Carlsen received an exceptional permission from the Expo 2020 to display a betting company that sponsors him even though betting and advertising it is illegal in the UAE. Chess is not only promoted at the playing hall but also at the Spanish pavilion which held a tournament, hosts Judit Polgar’s commentary and will see an educational conference.
At the Expo 2020 Dubai chess is coming back to the world exhibitions that played a historical role for the game. The Grand Exhibition 1851 in London, the Great London Exhibition 1862 and the Exposition d’Art et d’Industrie 1867 in Paris hosted the first international tournaments. Previously only matches had been held. By returning with matchplay to the latest edition in Dubai chess is coming full circle.