‘To commentate on chess live is a challenge’
Tamil Nadu, Sports, Mon, 11 Nov 2013IANS
Chennai, Nov 11 (IANS) Divining what goes inside the brains of two of the world’s top chess players and commentating live on their moves and reading the probable strategies is a challenging task, said a commentator at the world championship here.
“Keeping the viewers/audience engaged is the major challenge for a chess commentator as there will be no visible action between the two players unlike in a field sport,” grandmaster R.B. Ramesh told IANS.
He is one of the four commentators for the match between World Champion and India’s Viswanathan Anand and challenger Magnus Carlsen, from Norway.
During the first match, Ramesh paired with the famed Grandmaster Susan Polgar of Hungary to give a running commentary.
The other two commentators are International Master (IM) Lawrence Trent and IM Tania Sachdev.
“In the case of an action sport, the role of a television or visual media commentator is comparatively less as the action would speak. But here we have to speak and provide the action when the actual action on the board is nil,” Ramesh added.
Ramesh, a Chennaite, is a former British and Commonwealth chess champion.
Ramesh’s wife Aarthie Ramaswamy, a women grandmaster, told IANS that her husband is generally a silent person but would talk well amongst his friends.
“Giving a running commentary for the world championship match is a first-time experience for him. For the past three days, he has been preparing for this. It was as if he was preparing for a tournament,” Ramaswamy said.
Ramesh said that apart from the game, he had prepared notes about India, Tamil Nadu and Chennai so that he can engage the audience with information other than chess.
The commentators are not allowed to use a computer which in a way is a handicap as they will not be in a position to tap into the data bank and give expert comments on a position on the board.
According to Ramesh, the All India Chess Federation (AICF) initially wanted him to give the commentary to the audience at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, the championship venue.
“Two days prior to the match, I was informed that I will be one of the official commentators and would go live,” Ramesh said.
The four commentators had a pre-match meeting to discuss the strategy and the manner in which they would carry out their task.
“Initially, I was a bit tense. Polgar made it easy for me to start talking freely by asking pointed questions. After the initial tense moments, it became easy for me,” Ramesh said.
While Ramesh was not overawed by the presence of Polgar — given the achievements of the three Polgar sisters in the chess field — his wife said she was speechless when she met her chess icon.
“When we started playing chess the Polgar sisters — Susan, Sofia and Judith — were our icons. I was speechless when I was introduced to Susan. In the coming days I will be more relaxed while talking to her,” Ramaswamy said.
In India, too, there are chess playing sisters who have made their mark at the international level. The Khadilkar sisters — Bhagyashree, Jayashree and Rohini — from Pune and the Subbaraman sisters — Vijayalakshmi and Meenakshi — from Chennai are the notables.
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– GM Susan Polgar