Every move counts: The reinvention of chess online
June 21, 2023
Chess, the famous game of skill, strategy and creativity, is one of the oldest and most popular games in the world. It has been played for centuries by kings and commoners alike. However, despite its enduring allure, the online platforms available for chess have failed to keep pace with modern times.
The online chess platforms that dominate the market today are stale, stuffy and uninspired. Their interfaces and experiences feel dated, offering little energy, engagement or excitement for the millions of Gen Z and Y chess fans around the world. While these platforms competently provide a facility to play the game of chess, they fail to capture the true essence and spirit of chess as a sport, a cultural phenomenon, and a thriving community.
Chess needs a reboot for the modern chess community: the millions who watch on Twitch and avidly follow chess content creators and star talent from top esports teams. While missing the mark on most platforms, chess has the opportunity to achieve a state of relevancy, transforming the experience for the current era, through improved design and storytelling.
We are building that experience at checkmate.live.
This is our opportunity to create a platform that combines the best of chess with the world of esports, gaming, and entertainment. A platform designed to springboard off the thousand-year success of the core game, by delivering the above-and-beyond features that the community has demanded of us.These features will not only support a thriving and youthful community but also propel chess into the future with unprecedented momentum.
Chess meets DOTA in an innovative approach for prize pool funding
One of the key features of checkmate.live is its treasury system. The treasury system allows players to contribute to the prize pool of tournaments by purchasing in-game cosmetics and collectibles that can be used to access various benefits on the platform, or stylise their participation, with an enormous potential for third party IP integration. What if king pieces, and only king pieces, were characters of your selection? What if your king was John Wick, complete with a dual-berettas finishing move upon your pawn securing a checkmate move?
This treasury system, in practical terms, is not dissimilar to how DOTA 2’s The International tournament is funded by its players. The International is one of the biggest esports tournaments in the world, with a prize pool of $40 million in 2011. The prize pool is largely generated by sales of Battle Passes, which are digital items that grant players access to exclusive content and rewards in the game. 25% of the revenue from Battle Passes goes directly to the prize pool, while the rest goes to Valve, the developer of Dota.
At checkmate.live, 40% of all funds accrued in treasury are committed to running events and their prize pools. Another 40% is committed to platform development, XR broadcasting costs, and ongoing development of our AI anti-cheat (more on this later). Our treasury system is designed to create a more sustainable and rewarding ecosystem for online chess, and one where players are granted a sense of ownership amongst the community, and in support of the community. It is worthwhile noting that this treasury is made possible by the same technology that makes Bitcoin possible: blockchain. A technology I’m not unfamiliar with, previously having devised and led the development of the world’s first distributed ledger voting system. Leveraging the same traits made the votes in my system transparent, secure, and verifiable, so is checkmate.live’s treasury.
Let’s not kid ourselves: The Overwatch League is not everything it was, or should have been. But the premise, promise, and a good part of the execution was a masterstroke that did great things for esports. In a similar vain, supported by Tencent technology, produced by VADR, participated in by high profile esport orgs, and with an exclusive partnership with the Asian Chess Federation (ACF), checkmate.live is poised to elevate competitive chess in unprecedented ways.
The Asian Chess Federation represents over 53 national chess federations in Asia and Oceania. It is supported by some of the most influential personalities and organisations in chess, esports and media. And with checkmate.live, the ACF is ready to launch its first international series, which will be broadcast as a global XR production.
Chess meets VAC Live for the pursuit of integrity
Checkmate.live aims to elevate online chess to new heights of popularity, innovation… and integrity. Having been involved in esports for over 20 years, as a player, manager, organiser and investor, I’ve seen all of the scandals and have witnessed first hand where so many of the cracks present themselves, from prejudice, to match fixing.
One of the biggest issues in any competitive online landscape remains cheating. And one of the most affected games is said to be Counter-Strike. My first-hand experience as a player for Australia’s top-ranked Counter-Strike team, and subsequent manager of major national esports events, can attest to that.
As recent events highlight, Chess is not immune. And of course, I also play chess. I have been a lover of its elegance and depth since I was first taught to play by my grandfather. I have always admired the best players for their divine degree of foresight and intuition.
This is why Checkmate has already acquired and continues the development of a machine learning anti-cheat solution to detect and prevent any attempts at unfair advantage or external assistance during online chess matches. Behind the artificial observer, who correlates gaze assessment, facial expressions and move timings - among other proprietary mechanics - are a team of moderators and experts who exist to review matches and reports.
We believe that online chess should be a game of skill, strategy and creativity, not a game of deception, manipulation and dishonesty. Checkmate.live respects the rules and ethics of chess, and expects the same from its players and community. We have strived to create a platform that is safe, fair and enjoyable for everyone.
The clock starts 2024. Visit checkmate.live today to sign up for announcements as we make our opening moves.