John McKenna wrote:That's a surprise!! Welcome to the Forum. Were you contented or dissappointed with the part Agon played in the London Candidates?
(I regarded the event as a great success and attended more than once but was disappointed by the lack of attendance by the chess public of England in general and London in particular.)
As is usually the case, there were things that I was happy with (even proud of) and things that could have been much better (that I was indeed embarrassed by). And, as usually is the case, I can probably provide an even more damning criticism of the event's shortcomings (from an insiderâ€™s point of view) than outsiders could. Of course, complementarily, there are other elements of the event that can better be criticised by those who have been living and breathing top level chess events all their lives.
First, the great drama, the great success of an event is due to the players. At the same time, a great event is not just due to greatness in individual games, but also the chance of the sequence and the thread of the narrative and occasionally the character of the games. In this case, the drama hinged on Ivanchuk, as Malvolio and Sir Toby Belch are the hinge characters in Twelfth Night, not the various lovers. Here, I simply set the stage and great actors strode and stumbled across it. Chance was with me.
I was relatively satisfied by the size and quality of the audience. Their visible excitement in the playing hall and in the commentary room has been reported as being unmatched in modern memory. There could have been more people, more young people, more women, more racial diversity. But, we are just beginning to try for this; despite protestations to the contrary, such chess events are generally designed to attract only the most sturdy and committed fans. And, sadly, we fell very short in promoting the event in advance which would have resulted I am sure in our being sold out from day one.
The 2013 London Candidates was the first sporting event of any kind in history (I am told) where the audience was provided with â€˜second screensâ€™ upon which they could experience the live event augmented by an immersive digital experience. Of course, the version one that we presented was primitive and creaky (we had little more than 8 weeks to code it), but it presented real innovations and promise of much more. Above all, it was a â€˜proof of conceptâ€™ which we are now going to be developing further. But there were moments when the moves werenâ€™t registering in real time that made me want to crawl under a table.
We introduced a new standard chess set which was accepted by all the players as a modern interpretation of the Staunton design system. An online version, the digital icons, were beautiful but not at all practical (red being difficult to make out on low resolution screens and the queen and the rook being quite difficult to differentiate!) and came in for significant criticism. They are being improved.
The quality of the commentary from Nigel Short, Malcolm Pein, Lawrence Trent and Robert Fontaine, with lots of audience participation especially from Jon Speelman was constantly entertaining and generated the all-time record online audience for a chess event. The overall design, choice of venue, graphical design, Closing Ceremony at No 11 Downing Street â€¦ these were all designed to ennoble the event. And they succeeded in contributing the the largest amount of mainstream media chess coverage in the UK since 1993 and 1972.
There were problems of organization and communication which led to uncertainty and confusion. The budget had to be cut due to underperformance in meeting sponsorship targets: many things we had planned we simply couldnâ€™t do as we didnâ€™t have the money. But, as my first major chess event in the public eye, I could at least let out a sigh of relief when it was all over and climb out from under the table.