Chennai: GM R.B. Ramesh did not allow his wife WGM Aarthie to have a peaceful sleep on November 8, the night before the first game of the world chess championship between Anand and Carlsen started. He kept repeating the introductory speech to his non-complaining wife, who has also been putting up with his commentary in deep sleep ever since.
“After the nervy introduction speech, I stopped rehearsing or planning anything specific for commentary. I just speak whatever I feel appropriate using my experience as a player, coach and human being to make the game interesting to the public,“ said Ramesh, whose first experience as a commentator for DD Sports at the world championship has got excellent reviews.
The Chennai GM not only gets appreciation from the chess lovers, but he is also respected and followed by all viewers as he speaks simple English and narrates in detail about intricacies of coaching. He also provides information on India's chess achievements. His conversations with Susan Polgar add more colour to the otherwise dull draws.
Ramesh said that positive feedback from viewers encouraged him to do better in the subsequent rounds after the initial anxiety in game one. “It is an interesting experience to connect to a lot of chess lovers directly and try to explain how a GM approaches the game of chess and how he thinks, which is kind of a mystery for most non-chess players,” he added.
Even though Ramesh has done audio commentary for the 2007 Mexico tournament, where Anand regained his world title, the Chennai experience is his first on live television. “The success here has given me the hope that chess can be explained to general viewers in simple terms and keep them engaged,” he said.
WGM Nisha Mohota likes the pair of Ramesh and Susan as their commentary creates lot of interest among the general public.
“The professional chess players will check internet and chess engines for analysis. The TV commentary is mainly for the masses and the style of Ramesh and Susan, who talk about chess in general and upcoming players, suit the visual media more,” she added.
Rakshitta Ravi, an up and coming player, enjoys Ramesh’s analysis.
“Ramesh shows some variations and then talks about the position in general. He also talks about chess in India. One day, he spoke about Judit Polgar, who is the highest rated woman chess player in the world. It was very informative,” the little girl said.
IM K. Priyadharshan finds Ramesh’s comments perfect for amateur players.
“Ramesh’s analysis is crisp and clear. He doesn’t show long complicated lines that can be understood only by IMs and GMs,” he said.
He added that the move to pair one Indian with a foreigner was smart as it helps in meeting the Indian expectations while negating the difficulty in understanding the accent of foreign commentators.