London: It’s not normally considered a high-octane spectator sport that sets pulses racing. But the organisers of the World Chess Championship clearly think differently.
In an attempt to make chess more exciting for viewers, its stars may be required to wear biometrics devices when the next big title match is held.
The innovation is being pushed so fans can track the ups and downs of big moments.
Games lasting several hours are broadcast online and can attract hundreds of thousands of viewers on portals such as chess.com and Chess24.
However, the thoughts of players — including the key points when they feel calm or stressed — have, by some, been kept as closely guarded secrets. Ilya Merenzon, chief executive of World Chess, said: “Chess matches can be very dramatic, and biometric data gives fans and spectators alike another opportunity to follow the games and relate to them on much deeper level. It’s not enough to know what the next best move is anymore: you have to know what the grandmaster is thinking.” World Chess has been on a mission to make chess a spectator sport since it took over the sport in 2014. Magnus Carlsen, the Norwegian superstar who is the current world champion, has welcomed the move. “I am not against the sensors,” he said. “There is nothing insulting or strange it in. And the audience will probably enjoy how the players’ heart rate is increasing and whatever else that can be measured.” The device and software, currently under development by World Chess, will need to be approved by players and the governing body Fide’s anti-cheating commission to ensure that it cannot be accessed or hacked. If players approve use of biometric data in chess broadcasting, World Chess says it will be made a permanent part of championship broadcasting.