19 November 2015

The Resurrection of Agon

A few months ago I prepared a short series on Spectating the 86th FIDE Congress (September 2015), with closer looks at two topics of particular interest: Chess in Schools and the Journalist Commission. FIDE has just released a new batch of documents -- 86th FIDE Congress: Executive Board Minutes and Annexes (November 2015) -- where a cursory inspection shows the first 30 annexes were available in September and the rest are new.

One of the most interesting documents for me is 'Annex 54: Report by Ilya Merenzon, CEO of AGON Limited'. While this will eventually become fodder for the next edition of Whither the World Championship?, one section is relevant on a broader level.

2. The Financial Times and Chess • We have agreed that the Financial Times will publish an annual section called ‘Chess and Business’. The first installment will be published on October 8, 2015, a day before opening of the Rapid and Blitz Championship. The section will have 4 pages of interviews and editorials about chess and how it affects global culture. Until chess, the newspaper had only one section dedicated to sport - it was Formula 1.

Presence in the Financial Times is really good for chess, as the elite audience of over 1 million people who read the Financial Times see that chess is a major part of the global business life. It’s also good for sponsors who support chess and can place advertisements in a section dedicated to the sport they support and love. Once the first installment is published, we’ll send it to all members of the Presidential Board.

The rest of us will have to make do with the headlines.

The annual section for 2015 is available on the web at ft.com > reports > Chess. Its introduction 'IN THIS REPORT' explains, 'The latest technological revolution has provided big online opportunities for players, fans and businesses, as the worldwide web proves to be a natural home for the venerable game.'

The 11 articles are only available via a paywall. I'm not an FT subscriber, but I might have a trial subscription by the time you read this post. In the meantime, a typically British review is available online at Hip To Be Square (KingpinChess.net).

Back to Annex 54, there's a second section of general interest.

6. Media site • Sponsors have been demanding digital presence within chess, it was their absolute requirement. To address the issue, Agon (in cooperation with FIDE) has developed a media and chess broadcasting site, www.worldchess.com, which will feature exclusive broadcasts, ratings, events (all federations will have a capability to add their events and sell tickets and publicize their events globally).

That domain, worldchess.com, has been active for a few months now and the Agon report to FIDE informs, 'Dylan Loeb MacClain [sic], chief chess reporter for the New York Times, is the WorldChess.com's editor-in-chief'. One of the site's contributors is The Chess Mind blog, as in This Week's World Chess Column: In Praise of Amateur Players.

After a promising launch in 2012, Agon stumbled badly. How will it fare during its second life?


For another recent post about Agon, see 2016 Candidates, Moscow.

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