Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Chess Masters sees the return of the game to the BBC

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News from the BBC Media Centre:

BBC Factual today announces an exciting brand new Factual Entertainment competition format, Chess Masters, for BBC Two and iPlayer. Across eight episodes, passionate and highly-skilled players from all backgrounds will battle it out across a series of rapid chess games before one will be crowned the title of Chess Master. ...

Catherine Catton, Head of Commissioning, Factual Entertainment and Live Events, says: "In a market of competitions that celebrate physical feats we’re really excited to back an idea that foregrounds strategy and smart-thinking. Curve has devised a format that makes chess both entertaining and accessible for all."

Camilla Lewis, Executive Producer, Curve Media, says: "Chess Masters has been a joy to develop with the BBC. We are delighted to be making this warm, inclusive and clever series, where the emotional as well as strategic stakes are high. There is untapped talent out there. Amateurs from 8 to 80 will get the opportunity to compete with the best and the audience will get unique insights into the psychological and practical gameplay of this age-old but highly accessible game played by all cultures and by people of all kinds."

Malcolm Pein from the English Chess Federation adds:

The world’s oldest game has evolved into a 24/7 365 activity as well as a big money e-sport that has appeal across the generations. The way chess almost uniquely crosses all boundaries of age, sex, language and culture convinced me that our national broadcaster is its natural home.

"The chess community has waited over thirty years for the game to return to our screens and everyone is hugely excited at the prospect of creating an innovative format with the best broadcasting professionals to bring the 64 squares to life for the millions of new players and for those whose chess journey has not yet begun."

It is indeed 30 years since chess featured on the BBC in the shape of its coverage of Nigel Short's unsuccessful challenge to Garry Kasparov for the world championship.

And back in the Seventies, the BBC screened the innovative programme The Master Game. As I blogged last year:

When the BBC tried to sell The Master Game, a series of televised chess tournaments, to other national broadcasters, they were told: "We've tried doing chess on television, but it doesn't work." Then the representatives of those stations heard the players apparently voicing their thoughts during the game and bought the programme.

What format the new programme Chess Masters will take remains to be seen, but the return of chess to be BBC has to be welcomed.

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