Reports | September 13, 2010 0:10

Seeking the Endgame: BBC documentary on chess

Seeking the Endgame: BBC audio documentary on chessDuring the World Championship match between Anand and Topalov in May in Sofia suddenly a BBC radio crew appeared in the press room. They were working on a chess documentary and spoke to several journalists, including the ChessVibes editor-in-chief. The first part was put online last Friday.

The documentary, one in the series Friday Documentary by the BBC World Service can be found here and here. (It's also available as a downloadable MP3 here.) The first part is mainly about how computers have changed our game. The official description:

Chess is an ancient game that has been widely popular for centuries – but how is it faring in modern times?

Simon Terrington, a self-confessed chess fanatic, explores the game in today's world.

Is modern technology changing it and how it's played? In a world where there are more and more calls upon our time, do people still wish to devote hours to mastering it?

Simon reaffirms his love for chess by absorbing the passion it generates, from grandmasters to community club players; from the World Chess Championship to the chess boards of a Bulgarian park.

These programmes build a new picture of a game: a game with a wealth of beneficial attributes, but also one with a pugilistic, addictive hook that keeps players coming back to the board, again and again.

In part one, Simon assesses how computer technology has affected the game at the highest level and what this means for its future.

He looks at the moment when chess champion Garry Kasparov was beaten by the IBM computer Deep Blue and hears from experts about the impact that event had across the game.

The crew, led by Simon Terrington, visited the match on a good day. They witnessed the 9th match game, the one in which Anand got two rooks for a queen and missed several wins in a very tense game. The atmosphere was magical, and the BBC people really loved it. At 07:58 of the documentary a certain Peter Doggers of ChessVibes explains (or at least tries to) how computers think, just about when the 9th match game had reached move 38.

The documentary is highly recommended. In this first part Mr Terrington also spoke to:

  • GM Viswanathan Anand, World Chess Champion
  • GM Ian Rogers, chess journalist and for decades Australia's strongest player
  • IM William Hartston, chess author and presenter of the game on television
  • GM Ivan Cheparinov, second of Veselin Topalov
  • IM Fernand Cobet, Professor in Cognitive Psychology at the Brunel University
  • IM David Levy, author of more than 40 books on chess and computers
  • GM Anatoly Karpov, former World Chess Champion
  • IM Malcolm Pein, journalist, organizer and publisher

Tags:

Share |
Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of ChessVibes.com, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.

Chess.com

Comments

lefty's picture

This was entertaining and well done. I find that usually documentaries involving chess lack sophistication, or worse, use chess as a metaphor and are made by people who know little about the game. This seemed to simultaneously have a high level of sophistication and also pose an interesting question about the effect of computers is having on chess.

ludd's picture

BBC knows how to make documentaries. Nuff said!

Latest articles