BBC launches new Chess Masters competition

The BBC is launching a TV chess competition credit:Bang Showbiz
The BBC is launching a TV chess competition credit:Bang Showbiz

The BBC is launching a new TV competition to find the next 'Chess Masters'.

The broadcaster is looking to capitalise on the game's soaring popularity and the upcoming show programme on BBC Two and iPlayer will see "passionate and highly-skilled players from all backgrounds" battling it out across eight episodes in a series of "rapid chess games" with one person crowned the winner.

Catherine Catton - BBC's Head of Commissioning, Factual Entertainment and Live Events - said: “In a market of competitions that celebrate physical feats we’re really excited to back an idea that foregrounds strategy and smart-thinking.

"Curve has devised a format that makes chess both entertaining and accessible for all.”

Classed as "the fastest growing sport in the world", chess was the most watched game on Twitch in 2021, and in February 2023 it was the most downlaoded app from the iPhone store.

With six million regular players in the UK alone - and 605 million adults around the world - the game has some famous fans in the likes of Will Smith, Madonna, Anthony Joshua and Lily Cole.

Camilla Lewis - Executive Producer at Curve Media - added: “Chess Masters has been a joy to develop with the BBC.

"We are delighted to be making this warm, inclusive and clever series, where the emotional as well as strategic stakes are high. There is untapped talent out there.

"Amateurs from 8 to 80 will get the opportunity to compete with the best and the audience will get unique insights into the psychological and practical gameplay of this age-old but highly accessible game played by all cultures and by people of all kinds.”

The series is being back by the English Chess Federation, and Malcolm Pein - the organisation's Director of International Chess and External Relations - is excited to for what's to come.

He said: "The way chess almost uniquely crosses all boundaries of age, sex, language and culture convinced me that our national broadcaster is its natural home.

"The chess community has waited over thirty years for the game to return to our screens and everyone is hugely excited at the prospect of creating an innovative format with the best broadcasting professionals to bring the 64 squares to life for the millions of new players and for those whose chess journey has not yet begun."