Global Chess League is made for television, says Viswanathan Anand
"We want to engage them more. Let them experience chess, for me what's innovative in this league is the way it's going to be presented, it's very exciting and made-for-television," Anand said.
Stakeholders of the upcoming Global Chess League are determined to make the sport visually appealing to attract more audience, global mentor of the tournament Viswanathanan Anand said on Thursday.
The International Chess Federation (FIDE) has come on board along with Tech Mahindra to launch chess' version of the hugely popular IPL cricket, with the first edition of the six-team franchise league slated to be held in Dubai from June 21-July 2.
"Certainly, we hope this league will engage new audiences, there's a very large number of potential chess fans -- people who play the game occasionally, or follow the game," Anand, who is also the FIDE deputy president, told PTI in a virtual interaction.
"We want to engage them more. Let them experience chess, for me what's innovative in this league is the way it's going to be presented, it's very exciting and made-for-television."
As for the format, each team will have an icon player, two women players and one under-21 and two men players. The inaugural edition will feature six teams which will compete in a round-robin format where each team will play 10 matches. The five-time world champion said the interest in the sport has gone up several times during the pandemic-triggered lockdown.
"Interest is very high so this is a good moment to try innovative approaches. We want to create an attractive competition, to get fans get excited about their teams so they root for it," he said.
"It's about presenting it attractively. The key thing in getting them engaged is give them a competition they can enjoy from start to finish. That should be the focus area." Without divulging numbers, chairperson of the GCL Jagdish Mitra said they are pumping in millions of dollars in the tournament.
"It's in millions of dollars that we are pumping in. We see there is a huge amount of opportunity for this to be able to build into a very strong property in the world of chess, that it's a nascent property that has not been tested enough." He further said chess has 600 million fans worldwide.
"Almost 60-70 percent of homes have tradition of playing chess at home. the coverage is really, really wide. It's just not been tapped for engaging them in a format which can be a lot more visually appealing.
"That's what our job is to make sure that the format is extremely engaging and it allows people to be able to participate and be a part of the format. It depends on how we brand the product to maximise this engagement," Mitra added.