Monday, March 30, 2020 12:12

Watching the World Championship

The World Championship is being played in Sofia, Bulgaria right now. I’m watching the first game being relayed live. The players are the current World Champion, Grandmaster Viswanathan (Vishy) Anand, and Grandmaster Vesselin Topalov.

There are lots of good sites that will provide analysis on the games themselves after the fact. (Among others are Dennis Monokroussos’ The Chess Mind and Mig Greengard’s Daily Dirt websites, both at the right.) Although I might post something from the patzer’s point of view, I’d rather share how you, too, can be watching the games live.

There is an official website with a link to observing the game, but as is all too frequent in chess events that will draw a lot of visitors, that link is crashing on me this morning. One can also pay for the Internet Chess Club or and view it there. (In full disclosure, purchasing the premium version of Fritz 12 includes a year’s premium membership to Playchess.) But there is a *free* way to observe the games, and that is through the Free Internet Chess Server (FICS.) And that’s the route I’ve chosen for today.

So, here’s the steps:

1) Go to .
2) If you have Java, and don’t want to download a program to your computer, choose the “Login Now” link, and the Jin program applet will load.
3) Choose “Login as Guest.”
4) The playing environment will start automatically and log you in as a guest.
5) Issue the command “tell relay listgames” and hit enter. The FICS server will respond with something like this:

tell relay listgames
:There are 6 games in the Serbian Womens Chess Championship 2010 - Round 5
:24 WGMChelushkina WIMDrljevic * E72
:164 SandraDjukic WIMMarijaRakic 1/2-1/2 D26
:37 WIMPetrovic WGMAStojanovic * A48
:113 WGMBenderac KatarinaTadic * D04
:234 LenaMiladinovic WFMEric 0-1 D30
:177 KsenijaTomin WFMMladenovic * B19
:There are 1 games in the World Chess Championship 2010 - Round 1
:20 GMTopalov GMAnand * D87

[If it tells you no games are being relayed, you’re probably a little early and the server hasn’t assigned the board number yet….]

What the above output is telling you is the games that the “Relay bot” is currently rebroadcasting. It shows the game number FICS has assigned, the players, the result (if any yet) and the ECO opening code of the game being played. What we’re looking for is the last game, telling us that Game 20 is the live feed of Topalov-Anand Round 1, it is in progress (the “*”), and that it is opening D87.

So now I issue the command “observe 20″ to observe Game 20. Voila! A window opens showing the game in progress. I watch it until it’s done. Then I use the “exit” command to leave / close the browser windows.

There are a few other commands that are useful while observing the game. First, there is always a lot of chatter in games like this. I don’t like most of it, personally. So I’ll issue the command “set kiblevel 2000,” so that I only see comments from players rated 2000 or above. (I’ll play with that a little. Sometimes I’ll set it to 1800, sometimes 2200.) The point is to be able to watch the game without a lot of chatter. I’ll also issue the following commands:
set shout 0
set cshout 0
set seek 0
-ch 50
(These commands remove the ability to see shouts, chess shouts, channel 50 tells, and removes all notifications from people seeking games. This also frees up the clutter in the command line.) More on using FICS can be found in their quick start guide, and more on the Jin interface can be found here.

There are a couple of caveats to watching games via FICS. First is, FICS takes donations but is completely free and run by volunteers. This means a few things: Moves are relayed as soon as possible, but not always immediately. Technical problems can occur – rare, but they happen. The chatter level can be disconcerting sometimes. On the other hand, you haven’t paid anything to be able to watch the moves of the world championship live.

Edited to add: The other thing about FICS is that if you spend one hour without doing anything in the interface, you will be logged off for inactivity. What I do is issue a null command every 45 minutes or so. “finger LaughingVulcan” would work, for example. The server just wants to know you are still actively involved with it, to avoid wasted bandwidth by keeping a link open that you’re not using.

Eventually, if you enjoy using FICS, you’ll want to create an account (free!) and download a client (likewise free!) I recommend BabasChess, the most popular interface. It is available here.

It looks like Topalov is clearly winning the first game, and it’s time for me to get back to watching it. But watching major chess events for free is one way that I enjoy my chess, and I hope by doing so you will be able to

Enjoy your Chess!

2 Responses to “Watching the World Championship”

  1. […] the article here: Watching the World Championship | LaughingVulcan's Chess Blog Share and […]

  2. Nice to be noticed. :)