Watching and commenting on a chess game that others are playing can be a rollicking, fun experience for both players and onlookers.
Witticism and repartee – brilliant or embarrassing – fly back and forth, sometimes to the annoyance, sometimes to the delight of the players,
Of course, few players or kibitzers know clearly what is happening on the chessboard during the casual, quickly played games in which kibitzing is tolerated or even encouraged.
Traditionally, it was a different matter during tournament play when an audience quietly analyzed on their pocket chess sets or watched and analyzed a constantly updated grandmaster game on a large demonstration board.
The audience, seriously following the games – often for hours at a time – became ersatz performers, experiencing the joy of discovery, the doubts and tensions of the players themselves.
What to do? What is the right move, they would continuously ask themselves?
In the age of computers, that is no more. The audience is likely to know – while the players are still in doubt – whether a move is good or bad
Something has been gained. but, alas, something perhaps more important has been lost.
The former world champion Viswanathn Anand puts it simply:
“If you don’t switch off your computer once in a while and think for yourself, you will never experience what the players are going through. You will miss out on the human element of the struggle.”
Below is a win by Teimor Radjabov against Vassily Ivanchuk from the SportAccord Blitz tournament in Beijing: