Well, I have read the comments here with interest. I do understand the concerns (or more than concerns), but the idea behind what Agon is doing is really for commercial reasons and ultimately, we believe, for the benefit of chess. It's quite simple: advertisers are willing to sponsor big chess events if there is enough traffic that their advertising is seen by a large audience (millions, not tens of thousands). If multiple Web sites broadcast the event, if splits the audience and advertisers won't advertise (which is what they have told us, directly). This is exactly what happens in major sporting events. Ironically, as someone pointed out on Chessdom's Web site on one of their posts attacking this decision, if a network in the United States, for example NBC, broadcasts a game, then it cannot be broadcast on CBS, ABC or ESPN. It is both a question of legality and good business practices, at least from the standpoint of attracting advertisers. Again, we are not making this up -- we've been told by advertisers what they need and want before they will begin to sink real money into chess.
Does this affect fans? Hopefully not. The World Chess site is free. But, anyone who logs on has to agree to something called a click wrap agreement (at least that is what I think it is called; I am not a lawyer) and if, because of that person's actions, any moves are retransmitted during the games, they become personally liable for damages. These type of agreements have well-established legal standing in American courts, European courts and Russian courts. So, I am saying this straight out: Don't retransmit if you are thinking of doing it. You may win, but if you don't, you will lose everything. Agon has to come after anyone who tries to get around it, for the reasons I explained above. And, again, why try to circumvent the broadcast? Why run the risk? The site is free. There are two grandmaster commentators, in English. There will be guest commentators. And the players are required to comment on the games as soon as they are done? What exactly is that you want that is not being provided? At least try it before dismissing it out of hand. Who does that?
Two last notes. I hope no one here in any way blames or holds Dr. Harding somehow accountable for what we are doing (although, again, it is both legal and, Agon believes, in the best interests of chess). I am sure many of you know him, whether personally or through his work. He is obviously an excellent scholar and I can say I have grown to respect his professionalism, ability and journalism through the wonderful work he has done for the World Chess Web site (which, by the way, has been well read and well received by readers on the site). He is exceedingly honorable.
As for your opinions of me, well, I can live with them. Over the years, I have sometimes upset people through my work as a journalist. It comes with the territory. But for clarification, I am working for Agon and working on World Chess not because I need a job (I actually have one, thank you) but out of a desire to help chess and because I believe that, at this moment, Agon has a chance to do something right and help promote the game, which has too often been damaged by people who control the game who do not have its best interests at heart. You may say I have gotten it wrong and I would be incredibly arrogant to not entertain the possibility. Often we have to make decisions based on the best available information, and sometimes we make bad decisions. I hope that is not true this time, but obviously the possibility exists that I have not analyzed the situation correctly which is why I do not exclude the other possibility.
It is also why I said that I hope everything works for this tournament. Unless people were mean-spirited or had interests contrary to what I believe is in the best interests of chess, I would hope everyone hopes that the broadcast will work. Not necessarily because you like Agon, or me, but because you want to see the event be a success -- for fans, for players and for chess. When I wrote that I hope it works, I am just allowing for the possibility that failure can occur. Again, it would be incredibly arrogant of me, and the people at Agon to not entertain such a possibility. Ilya Merenzon, the chief executive, hopes that the broadcast works and that the servers hold up. Why does he not say that we will succeed? Because he is actually a reasonable human being and he knows things can happen. People plan, prepare, try to anticipate problems, but things still go wrong. Do we think that they will? No. But they still do.
So, here's hoping that everything works, that no one tries to break the embargo during the broadcast (for everyone's sake, as we certainly don't want the chess world mired in lawsuits) and that fans enjoy what we are doing and give us helpful, constructive feedback on any mistakes that we make (and we are bound to make them) so we can improve and do even better in the future. Our goal is to organize world-class and entertaining chess tournaments and matches while raising the profile of the game to attract and retain global sponsors who can bring more money into the game -- for all players and businesses that have long been associated with chess, including the Web sites that are so angry with us right now. It is a tall order. It is not simple. But even if you think we have gotten it wrong, those are our motivations.
All the best to everyone who has read this.