Saturday, 26 May 2007


Here is an idea I've had kicking around in my head for a while about how to make televised chess interesting to the non-chessplayer.
The idea is BulletTime, and is a based on presenting Bullet (1 minute) chess in a way that anyone can follow. Instead of expecting the spectators to work out who is winning themselves, you incorporate that information into the visual presentation.
If you look at the diagram on the right you can see that apart from the chessboard, there are a couple of other pieces of information. The vertical bars down the sides indicate how much time each player has left. At the start of the game the bar would be entirely filled, and be represented by some "safe" colour, such as green. As the players times run down, the bar would empty, and the colour would change towards a more threatening red. When a player runs out of time the graphic would change to indicate this.
Across the bottom the horizontal bar indicates who is winning. If white is in front the light part of the bar would move to the right, if black is winning the dark part would move to the left. This information would be provided by a computer either doing real time analysis, or in post production.
In this way spectators would be able to see at a glance who was winning the game (without having to work it out themselves) and who had more time left.
The intention is to combine this with live action footage of Bullet chess, with the video appearing on the screen where the computer board is located in the diagram. In this way you could combine the fast paced anarchy of Bullet chess, with a way of allowing people to follow what is happening.

At this stage I've just toyed with the concept, playing around with some filming and computer software, but at some point I'd like to present a 'proof of concept' demo. When I am ready I'll let you all know.


Phil Bourke said...

Nice ideas, but don't restrict yourself to bullet chess, this idea would be a nice addition to any format of chess that is televised. Hope the guys at DGT get in touch with you and run with the idea.

Jim Flood said...

Nice idea, Shaun. One aspect that springs to mind, which maybe more appropriate to longer time controls than Bullet chess, is to provide commentary to the audience on why one player is winning "OMG POBOF played F6!"

Happens in every other sport, including poker.

TrueFiendish said...

Great idea. As a computer will be used, another feature you could have is a "threat box", which, if for instance it was black's move, would give white's gravest threat. This could be simple like Qh8# or slightly more involved, such as "create passed a-pawn" or "force win of rook for knight after exchanges on d5", though this last might not suit for bullet. Five minute might be better.

What do you think?

(Anyway, I hate bullet chess. I always just knock the pieces over or the mouse gets jammed.)