Is chess popular?

Is chess popular?

I thought about why chess is less popular than other sports? I'm going to express my private opinion on this matter.

Chess is inferior to other sports in popularity (yes, just in popularity, but not in entertainment!). You can convert the format of World Championship into the blitz - this will make it spectacular, but won't increase its popularity!

In my opinion, the reasons are as follows.

Honoraria (prizes / salary / advertising contracts), which earn high level sportsmen in other sports, are about $ 5-30 million per year. I think there are only 3-4 people in chess, who come up to the sum of $ 1 million a year.

Let's go ahead. Whom do we see in commercials on TV, in magazines and other media?

The stars of course, but not chess stars! Only a few try to promote themselves in advertisements. My special respect to Magnus Carlsen for that.

Now recall yourself being a child. Most of us had an idol, most often it was the one we've seen on TV. And we see the politicians, businessmen and sports stars. And we wanted to imitate them in something - to become a famous actor, a world boxing champion, a president. A dream arose in us - to become as cool / popular / famous / powerful / rich. That's how we set ourselves a goal and chose a further course of life.

And why does a child need to become a chess player?

Chess is considered to be a smart game. But for some reason, there are very few advertising contracts with top chess players. Do you think it's bad for some company to position itself by supporting champions of such a clever game? I think not.

 Apparently, the matter is different...




  • 5 years ago


    I think it is already quite critical, that some elitists directly mentioned, that chess is something for thinker - and "better" and more advanced to other sports!

    This is exactly one reason why chess players are considered as outsiders.

    The challenges in chess are different than in active sports - but e.g. American Football has a lot to do with tactics - the difference is, that you need much more overview and you need to consider much more the human element into it.

    I think a big consens here is, that chess lacks the coverage in media. The problem here is, that there is no person who is able cross both worlds [chess world and non chess world] - nobody understands how to process the content of chess for normal viewers. It is always a very technical jargon and a viewer, who is not a "chess-nut" won't understand the context.

    A format like the TV series Top Gear, which not only reviews cars, but also produces always a beautiful and breathtaking footage, could help, that people would more acknowledge chess - even if they only viewing it, because of the meditative effect!
    I can still remember, that there was a computer chess game with animated moves and it was directly quite popular...

  • 5 years ago


    nukutawiti, people who are really into a sport they watch (like me and football) are constantly thinking and analysing while watching as well! It makes it all that much more fun! ;)

  • 5 years ago


    The reason in extremely simple: chess requires intelligence, brains and patience. Watching a chess game requires thinking, but not a soccer or baseball one. The ordinary people want passive entertainment to vegetate in front of T.V., not to stay concentrated in a board and some pieces with almost none action

  • 6 years ago


    I suppose ordinary chess is too long for the avarage T.V. audience.Its a bit like the difference between Billiads and Snooker in an analogy.

  • 6 years ago


    Yes, Blitz chess could be potentially popular, but the thing with that is a) I think a lot of Super GMs would be opposed to focusing on a career of blitz chess simply for a TV audience, though if it did get popular, it could make them a lot of money. b) It would still be difficult for most spectators to accurately understand what was going on.

  • 6 years ago


    i think that blitz chess could have some t.v. appeal. i live in chicago and the chess hustlers here put on quite a show. talkin' smack, playing crazy unheard of gambits. they could show it on tv, and then go back and explain the crucial things that went on in the game afterwords. the could do interviews with the players. i think it could work. blitz is fun to watch.  even the tourists gather around to watch.

  • 6 years ago


    They can make chess work on TV similar to Poker... Just focusing on the big plays and big story lines and covering a whole tournament in at most a few hours

  • 6 years ago


    One of the ways to do Chess
    more popular is combine Chess with other activities.
    For example, I heard about the successful attempts of Chess - Box,
    Chess and Karaoke. Personally I like and
    try to promote a game called Chess – Pong:
    a combination of Chess and 
     Ping -pong.

  • 6 years ago


    There just isn't enough action in a game of chess for it to capture the attention of enough viewers to make it popular. Also, you need a much more intimate knowledge of the game to understand what is going on than you do for a sport like football (both of them), baseball, basketball, hockey, etc, so that turns people off from watching it. The games are just too long, and too much of two people staring at a chess board. I tried watching the last WC match last year and even I just couldn't pay attention for all of it. It's a game, which is very interesting for those who play it, but isn't a spectator sport, that's why it's not popular, and I don't see it ever getting all that popular.

  • 6 years ago


    By the way, chess is a board game not a sport.

  • 6 years ago


    In order to make chess fit for TV, you'd have to do a couple of things.

    1. It couldn't be live.  You'd have to edit it so that it's like when the NFL network replays games later, where they only take an hour to show the game instead of three hours.

    2.  Add two commentators who comment on this edited version.

  • 6 years ago


    something that complicated as chess cannot be popular. sport has to be "simple" (rules must be simple, so literaly anyone can play) to be popular, like soccer and (american) footbal.

  • 6 years ago


    -Never see it on TV, and when you do it is almost like they are talking to aliens.

    -Chess is not a team sport. Before Federer and pretty Russian woman started playing, tenis was not as popular for a while i think.

    -You need rivalry (manchester-liverpool, Karpov Kaparov) something people can relate to. You don't need to understand chess in order to shiver from anticipation who will win. Why were Ali and Bruce Lee so popular, if not for being showman, i bet not many people knew kung fu before Bruce Lee came about.

    -Not a lot of money in it.

    -People who mostly used to play it were students, now i guess they play videogames.

    -You must think, use your brain in a way you are not used to, which is not easy for most people. How many times do you hear in a football match, if only he used his head, they could've won.

    -People assume chess players are (lol)...

  • 6 years ago


    Chess is like classical music, fine wines and high culture. I really do not see it as a SPORT. This is the challenge. Chess requires an large background education in chess to understand the game as it is played by the few GMs that are "popular". If you integrate Chess into the school system so that everyone gets exposed to it to some degree, THEN you will see that media MAGIC happen. Cool

  • 6 years ago


    People play chess because they are drawn to it, they love the game. 

  • 6 years ago


    @RC Woods and Elubas

    I completely understand you points.  I still find it really annoying when chess players go on about wanting to be rich and idolised in the media.  Nothing can convince me this is a good attitude to take in chess (or any other field really).    

  • 6 years ago


    I think people often -- not always of course -- admire people not necessarily because of the people they save, but in just pure awe of some one's ability in some specific activity -- most especially sports, and I don't really think that's a problem; that doesn't imply in any way that they don't appreciate the works of people who contribute to our well being, and I mean... do you really think it's necessary to, for example, broadcast live surgeries on television? The only reason why sports players are famous is because they're on tv, and the reason why they're on tv is because they offer entertainment, which is what most people watch it for in the first place. Just because they are on tv and firefighters are not does not have to imply that sports players are better people. They make more money because people want to watch them for their entertainment and that makes them worth a lot, but firefighters and the like serve a different, and by no means worse, purpose; it just happens to be not nearly as lucrative for sponsors!

  • 6 years ago


    I think it a real problem that computers are better than people at chess. That robs the game of something very special, though I cant express what that is exactly.

    i know why it robs the game of something special for me. It is the fact that, no matter how hard i work and think and focus my game will still be riddled with mistakes.

  • 6 years ago


    @ Kell:

    The public admiration of sportsmen of varying disciplines may or may not be a good thing, but it is a fair question why chess masters aren't among them. From your point of view, I think you could phrase the question to be why chess masters, unlike so many other sportsmen, aren't overrated. It's about the relative difference.

    I agree that nurses and firefighters deserve our admiration, but then looking at it from another perspective, these are also professions like any others. Just the fact that your job is with people doesn't necessarily makey you a hero, and I equally respect someone who repairs televisions.

    For people to be uplifting and inspiring, they have to excel beyond what I would normally expect from your fellow human beings. This can be because they are selfless, but also because  they perform at the peak of human capacity.

    Sports, unlike many professions, are competitive in nature. It is very hard to be at the top. In many sports, games can be quite enjoyable, even beautiful to watch. Our economy does not reward moral qualities, but produced value. The reason public figures get so much money is that they can reach many many people and have an effect on all of them. (which makes it attractive for sponsors to support them).

    If one nurse could help thousands of people at the same time, she would be wealthier. Fair or not, this is not really possible. The other side of the coin is that it is substantially harder to be a Lionel Messi than a nurse. This doesn't imply Messi is a more worthy individual, but our economy doesn't reward according to the moral quality of individuals. It is about the measurable amounts of value you provide to others, measured in monetary values. 

  • 6 years ago


    I can't stand this obsession with trying to make chess-players into "idols" and millionaires.  I can't stand it with any sport.  

    Why should we idolise someone because they are good at tennis or basketball or soccer or even chess?  Far more worthy of our admiration are nurses, doctors, firemen, good teachers etc.  Those are the real heroes.  

    I really enjoy chess.  But at the end of the day, chess is a silly little game, as are most sports.  Its not weird that chess players are not idolised like other sportsmen.  Its weird that so many other sportsmen are idolised.

    GM's looking for more public admiration need to get over themselves.   

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