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I'm a bit of a chess nerd (as I suppose we all are) and really enjoy watching live commentary of some of the bigger tournaments such as the current Sinquefield Cup. Unfortunately my enthusiasm is somewhat dampened by the commentary team they have put together for the broadcast. I love Yasser but Jennifer Shahade, Maurice Ashley, and Alejandro Ramirez all rub me the wrong way, for different reasons. Nothing against them really, they're all much stronger chess players than I am, but their commentary styles are in some way grating for me. I know I'm being very picky, but I find it borderline unpleasant to listen to the commentary if Yasser, Jan Gustafsson, Peter Svidler, Daniel King, Erwin L'Ami, etc... aren't the main people involved. Does anyone else agree with me on this? What are your thoughts on what makes a good commentator and who the best ones are?
Yaz is certainly the class act of the bunch but the powers that be are desperate to increase viewership. Maurice is going the ESPN commentator route and Jen shows a little skin. It's all good as far as I'm concerned; I'm just happy there's coverage.
I agree with you IguanaAstrounaut, I think the Norway chess commentry was much better.
I'm not a big fan of Shahade or Ashley, but I've always been impressed with Ramirez.
Ashley is nothing but an engine slave, I can look his stuff up all by myself. I wonder if he switched off his chess brain for good.
It killed me yesterday when Yassar was answering a question about Korochnoi's current health. He was being thoughtful in taking time to answer the question in a compassionate way and then Maurice stupidly bursts in about a nothing move in a game that had been heading for a for an hour. Maurice is just too much, settle down man, if we want an engine eval we can get one.
Five or more hours of free (!!) chess coverage and commentary and we have problems with personalities, voice inflection, etc. What a joke! Not everyone watching the free (!!) coverage is rated 2000 nor do they all own an engine.
Personally, I think the team is great. And if our game is ever to stand on its own and not be dependent on the largesse of individuals, it'll have to target a viewing audience larger than the self-described nerds.
Well, the tournament is Americana, so you can't do it without the hollywood thing - Shad and Ashley.
If I were Jennifer Shahade I would see a speech therapist to get rid of that affected valley girl thing. Nothing makes an intelligent person sound stupid faster than talking like a valley guy/girl.
I appreciate the higher production values of the Sinquefield Cup broadcasts...but yes, Maurice Ashley is not the guy I would ever choose, especially for the interviews. Go back to hawking Millionaire Chess and making a spectacle of the world's most revered game ;)...
Jennifer is annoying at times with her ADHD focus issues (stop reading Twitter! Get an assistant to feed you that stuff...) and her penchant for dragging Yasser into low-brow observations/humor. Even worse when she won't let him tell his stories that are actually interesting. Better insight to hear a Yasser story about a tourney with a similar situation/game than get yet another "the engines say that Carlsen has given up .25 pawns...and in this [insert line with moves no human would ever find] line, he has a clear advantage..." update from Ashley. Giri's girlfriend or the indian WGM who did the WCC broadcasts are better.
Yasser is good. It is actually irritating when he gets interrupted as if he is "drifting" away from the more sensationalized aspects of the broadcasts.
Yasser and his anecdotes are really great. Jen's and Alejandro's styles are, surely, a matter of taste. And Maurice's job as an engine operator is a bit degrading, after all he is a GM. But I think overall the team did a good job.
I have, certainly, seen worse teams. For example, I was quite disappointed by Sopiko and Svidler. And this Har-Zvi guy on ICC is really annoying.
In contrast, I found Evgeni Miroshnichenko + Anna Burtasova surprisingly eloquent.
Nice to read I wasn't the only one getting slightly annoyed with Jennifer. Now Yasser I always enjoy, last time in Wijk aan Zee I found him very good too.
I think that I may have found a new torture device.....
...make your victim listen to Jennifer Shahade's voice.
Garry and Yasser make a good team.
Garry's posh English accent was a hoot !
You are too ungrateful. Maurice Ashley's commentary is nice. He's more or less SUPPOSED to use the computers, but he also gives great background on the players, etc.
Shahade is ok. Yasser is great.
Maurice is easier to accept if you just think of him as playing the role of the hype man. "QUEEN takes! BOOM! out of NOWHERE!" ... and it's just a simple tactic. Of course to him it's hardly worth mentioning, but he's making it exciting for the audience.
I don't listen to him anyway because I'll have my own engine or chessbomb in a background when I want to explore a line.
Yaz takes some getting used to IMO, but I finally decided he's genuine. At times the analysis is very slow, but he has good insights.
I like Lawrence Trent, and I liked Svidler just because he's such an accomplished player I knew he'd give rare insights.
Yaz, Svidler, Paco Vallejo, Jan, are my favorite commentators.
Irina Krush is my favorite female commentator.
Maurice Ashley would be perfect for bullet chess commentary...
Someone referred to "Jen's odd behaviour". That may be attributable to her having to simultaneously speak to Yasser & Maurice while listening to a director/producer via an earphone.
Anyone remember Shelby Lyman and the bell that prompted him to announce, "We have a move"?