The game of chess has a prominent place in my life for more than a decade now. I like to hang around in the small but very interesting chess scene and I play the game on a decent level myself. Throughout the years I have played quite some international tournaments all over Europe. I remember one tournament where I was completely focused for 18 hours a day: prior, during and after the games. One should consider chess like a real sport - an opinion which somehow isn't shared by everyone. To convince the 'outside world' about the tension and excitement the game offers, my mission is to improve the coverage of chess events on the web.
I play chess on a decent level: my current FIDE rating is around 2150, with a pek some years ago at 2220. I used to be a very active chess player: up to the age of 21 I played 120 serious games per year, but reduced my chess activity drastically since I started to work for more and more chess tournaments.
I started playing chess thanks to my father, who used to be strong club player himself. He taught me and my younger brother Lars the game, and we joined a chess club (SV Hoogland) when I was 11 years old. Soon I won most of my club games and became one of the best youth players around. Together with my family I traveled through the country and played many tournaments, both for youth and adults. While my younger brother played many Dutch youth championships, he even became Dutch Youth Champion U21 twice and an International Master, I haven't ever managed to qualify for such a championship.
In 2007 I became club champion of SG Amersfoort (one of the strongest clubs in the region) and moved to BSG Bussum, which gave me the opportunity to get training with some strong players. I started in the second team, but managed to climb up to the first team two years later, which played in the Dutch Meesterklasse (the highest national league). I've played two years in the Meesterklasse.
I've enjoyed playing international tournaments, including Barcelona, Biel, Copenhagen, Vienna, Mallorca, Australian Open and the London Chess Classc. So far I've beaten quite some International Masters, and drew only one Grandmaster.
My playing style is uncompromising. Somehow I like to attack from a dubious position, which leads to quite entertaining chess - but sometimes to a hopeless loss as well. During international tournaments I like to prepare well, to experience the game like a real sport
What services do I offer for chess events?
About: I build websites with Drupal, a content managament system which is able to give (limited) administrator roles to several people. I write reports and and able to work with websites made by others with other programs as well.
Past experience: millionairechess.com, bilbaochessmasters.com, univechess.com, new chess-website
About: I install and operate DGT electronic boards, both wired and wireless.
Past experience: Sinquefield Cup, European Team Championships Reykjavik, Millionaire Chess, Qatar Open, European Club Club Eilat and many more. Gave seminars in the Netherlands and UAE.
Live video streaming
About: I co-produce live commentary at big chess events together with chess.com / Peter Doggers,
Past experience: Tata Steel Chess, Reykjavik Open, Gibraltar Chess, Qatar Masters, European Team Championships Reykjavik, European Club Cup Skopje, European Championships Jerusalem.
About: I love sports photography. To catch the emotions in a game.
Past experience: Sinquefield Cup, US Chess CHampionships, Tata Steel Chess.
About: It's my goal to make a fully automated statistics application.
Past experience: Tata Steel Chess Tournament
Learn more at the Creative page.
It's my job to offer the best chess coverage possible for chess tournaments. It's my passion to improve this coverage with new techniques and ideas. In this section I will examine the different parts of tournament coverage, and what I think might be the future coverage of chess events.
Just a few years ago the internet wasn't yet ready for a spectacular coverage of the games. On a moderate website the chess moves were transmitted with a small delay in a blue DGT-board and with a interval of 30 seconds. Some photos and a written report were published. And the results of the games. That was it.
Nowadays the possibilities of the internet are overwhelming. Some TV sports like Baseball offer all their live camera footage on the web, including live statistics, photos and on the spot video analysis. A large crowd from all over the world is grateful to pay about $20 a month for such a service. In my opinion, within a few years chess can make this step as well. With sponsors on board this service could even be offered for free.
However, in chess we don't offer the same services like baseball, soccer and golf yet. Chess only produces what I will call coverage 2.0. Some live video commentary and some live games with computer evaluation. In general there are just a few camps who like to develop and to present live chess coverage: Chess24, chess.com, the Russian ChessCast and the Americans from FatChimp Studio produce live video streaming, while currently only Chess24 has a corresponding live game viewer.
There is a lot to improve in chess broadcast. Back in 2013, AGON's mission (which I will call Chess Coverage 3.0) promised to open up the world of chess with some outstanding ideas. But so far the results are quite disappointing, although their ChessCasting program had some interesting new ideas. However, there has still a lot to be done to make AGON's promises, especially since we haven't heard from their project since after. Which means, we are still awaiting of Chess Coverage 3.0. For now, we still have to deal with chess coverage 2.0, which will not attract the big mass.
What is chess coverage all about?
In my opinion, a good chess coverage offers many interesting information about the games. Information and news prior, during and after the games. This will put a high requirement to the tournament website and the staff. Have a look at my ideas for an ideal tournament website in this article. Here I will only examine the content itself:
Chess coverage starts with moves, provided by DGT boards. These boards are common in the chess world since early '90ies, but only since the introduction of the Livechess software in 2011 it's fun operating them. I've worked extensively with these boards (both wired and wireless) and also gave a two-day seminar together with the DGT-team about the boards and the Livechess software. I think quite some people have enough knowledge to work with the DGT-boards, but for a big or important tournament I would recommend an experienced and specialised person who know how to handle technical issues. Also it doesn;t seem to be common to send an email with the PGN-file location to all 2nd party broadcasters.
Computer engine analysis
Chess is a difficult game. Only a fraction of chess enthusiasts do really understand what is going on in the game. So, it is better to accompany them with live computer evaluations and the computers proposed moves. There are quite some website who offer such a service: Chess24, Chessdom and Chessbomb for example. But all fail to explain chess: to explain on various levels why certain moves are proposed, that an opening has been played x times, that the in current position a difficult choice has to be made and that some moves involve certain tactical motifs which are easy to see for the computer but are sharp tricks for human. Instead, all they do is to give a flat +0.67 and +0.15 evaluation, which still requires a certain chess level to understand what's going on. On the positive side, it great to see that chess24 uses Agon's evaluation bar.
Live video streaming
What is live sports without live video? In 2008 DGT powered live streaming of the World Championship match in Bonn, of which I think it was the first high quality first HD (or still SD?) live chess video broadcast on the web. Since then ChessTV did a great job with their professional HD cameras, which livened up a lot of tournaments. It was followed by productions by Maceuley Petersson and later by chess.com, which offered relatively affordable live streaming for chess tournaments. The St Louis Chess Club puts a lot of money and effort in a ESPN-like video show. However, we haven't seen the maximum of live streaming yet. The audience can't choose for a particular camera view, and both the live video as the live video analysis are shown in the same small frame. The commentator's analysis is not interactive: the audience can not make variations in that analysis for example. We definitely need some good software to bring more joy to video streaming. And on top of that: currently tournament pays the commentary production, instead of the commentary production buying the rights from events.
Live video without audio, that's quite dull. That's why you need a nice commentator to serve the audience with understandable analysis and with some entertainment. There have been many tries in the past, but no one has found an ideal setup yet: one has expert commentary that only covers chess moves, the other serves manly entertainment, while the other show is just too American. Many producers are not in direct contact with the commentators, who are simply on their own and just lacking lots of extra valuable information.
Personally I really enjoy the American show produced by Fat Chimp Studios, with one host, two experts, of which one also interviews players and one person to do interviews with special guests and visitors. The entire production consist of 17 people, which is really a lot (and expensive). However, this gives way more flexibility than just one or two commentators behind a desk. Remarkably, nobody tried to offer two different commentator channels: one for expert level analysis and one for a lower level. The audience must be able to choose the playing strength their self. One commentating team can not serve both grandmasters and beginners at the same time.
In many sports journalism is about two things: emotions and statistics. Chess is certainly a sport with emotions, but also a sport with a lot of statistics. There are several database programs, containing more than 6 million chess games. In chess, no one really uses statistics that can be generated from these databases. The individual score, most common opening moves. Expected score according to rating. Age, rating and world ranking. Every sport journalist is driven on these statistics. And so is the audience. Do you know Kramnik is leading 22 vs 1 against Judit Polgar? One nice development comes from the MIT lab in Boston.
Facebook and Twitter are great ways to fill the gap between the tournament hall and the audience. To inform the audience and to answer their questions. Social media also brings chess enthusiasts together. In the past few years we've seen a positive trend of fans, players and tournament connected via social networks. However, starting a successful social media campaign is more difficult than it looks of first sight.
Nowadays everyone is a photographer. But there are still events that simply publish unedited photos is a low resolution. Photos are the strength of the current world wide web. A good photo teaser increases the number of page views of an article. On top of that all tournament images should be published as fast as possible and.. free of rights. Photo's are a great tool to start a discussion at social media as well.
Sports is about emotions. Traditionally, this emotion is shown in front of the camera, directly after the game. That is why it's so important not only to have live video streaming of the games, but video interviews as well. In a 2-3 minute interview, one is able to ask the player about its emotions, some critical moments of the game and to look forward to the next game. It is even better to have a pre-game interview at the morning before the game, as it gives new insights of the players, which can be used for interviews after the game as well. In poker, for example, these pre-game interviews play a major part of tournament reports on television.
Daily news video
If you publish an amount of videos, how do you inform the chess fan who only has time for a single 5-minute video? Indeed, with a summarising daily news video. As far as I know, only Tata Steel really tried this format and I think it works great. Nowadays, many people like to follow chess tournaments, but have limited time to follow all the games or all the coverage. They are just interested the highlights. Live is just..errr... live.
I think the role of written reports is two sided: a summary of the day and an expert analysis. The summary should have enough material for both news agencies and chess fans. Many journalist read them and tend to use them in their own reports. On the other side, extensive analysis is needed to dive into the game and explain the major developments.