ESPN2 Embraces Chess and Kasparov-X3D Fritz
Aug. 25, 2003 – The Kasparov-X3D Fritz match will be played in virtual reality and now it will also be played on live television on the world's largest cable sports network. ESPN carried the final game of the Kasparov-Junior match in January and they must have liked the results. This time ESPN2 will show a remarkable 17.5 hours of chess during the week of the match!
The coverage includes a prime Sunday time slot right when every red-blooded American male is tuned to ESPN getting ready to watch the most popular sport in the USA, red-blooded American football. This guarantees a viewing audience of millions and has the potential to make Kasparov-X3D Fritz the most-watched chess event of all time. Certainly nothing like it has been seen since in the US Fischer-Spassky '72.
Even if 3D pawns and the greatest chessplayer ever can't pull everyone away from cheerleaders and touchdowns, the exposure will be massive. Sports like poker and billiards have had major success on ESPN in recent years and the the January broadcast of Kasparov-Junior was met with a great deal of enthusiasm. TV coverage is also crucial for sponsor interest, particularly in the US. Even if this is a human playing a computer on a floating screen it will still expose many people to chess as a big time spectacle for the first time.
The announced broadcast schedule is as follows, set your recorder now. All times are EST (New York). The broadcast is on ESPN2.
November 11th 1-6, 13th 1-6, 16th 1-3:30, 18th 1-6 (All coverage subject to change.)
The announcers will be GM Maurice Ashley, GM Yasser Seirawan, and writer Paul Hoffman. There will also be guest commentators. ESPN coverage will likely also include radio and web postgame updates.