Why Isn’t Chess an E-Sport?


Four player chess. Chess.com has added the variant on their servers.

I remember when I was little, Aapeli.fi was the site, where I got to know chess as an internet game. I don’t even know, if I knew the English spelling of “chess”. Later I found other English sites, like Chess.com.

Nowadays a lot of chess is being played in the internet. Right now, only Chess.com’s statistics look like this: Games Today 2,161,139. Most of the games are however blitz chess (5min-5min times, games last at maximum 10 minutes) and even faster bullet chess.

Why isn’t chess thought of or marketed as an E-sport? E-sport means competitive video game playing. Chess can be streamed at Youtube and Twitch just like other E-sports. Chess is at least as competitive as other E-sports. Where’s the problem then?

1. Chess can be played for free on the internet.

It’s harder to sell products and make money with the game. That’s one reason, why sponsors are not at least yet so interested in chess as other E-sports.

2. Most chess streamers don’t brand themselves.

The fact that you’re a title player isn’t CLOSELY enough to build a profitable and known brand.

At least the American grandmaster Ben Finegold realizes this. He isn’t only an excellent chess player; he is a storyteller and uses a lot of dry humor in his lectures. These traits make him a totally unique chess lecturer, and he is one of Youtube’s most well-known chess lecturer. Some of his lectures get over 100,000 views on Youtube.

For example, in the Hearthstone (which is a collective card game played on the internet) -scene the biggest streamers and Youtube-channels like Kripparrian, Trump and Amaz Hearthstone, are all trying to separate from the masses in some way. They are putting their personalities into play.

3. The game has no add-ons to sell. Or does it?

A lot of chess variants have been invented during history, but “normal” chess has been the only one, which has been commercialized and which has a lot of live and online tournaments. Still, why aren’t new variants being developed by for example changing the rules, changing the board size and -shape, adding different kinds of pieces, adding other elements and creating cool themes around the games? The new chess games could get people interested in the game in a whole new way. There wouldn’t be much game theory, opening theory or made chess computers, and the players would get to use their creativity developing these and testing different playing styles.

Chess.com does offer some variants like bughouse and 3-check, but they are thought of only side games of chess, which bring new views on the real thing. Why aren’t these games commercialized more, emphasized more and why aren’t there live-tournaments of these games (chess960 does have some, but there could be more)?

Here were 3 examples, which prevent chess from becoming a real E-sport in my opinion.

There are other reasons as well. Of course, live chess has spread around the World, but if you want to develop chess as a sport and market o the youth, internet chess is a crucial part of this development.

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