Recently, I wrote a list of the best chess games on PC (opens in new tab) in which I included Chess.com (opens in new tab) as the best free, commercial online chess game. Today, Twitch announced a formal partnership with the service with a goal to "grow the global brand of chess as an online spectator sport."
Chess.com will continue streaming at Twitch.tv/chess (opens in new tab), where it'll be broadcasting the next Speed Chess (opens in new tab)Championshi (opens in new tab)p (opens in new tab) on November 18 in which Magnus Carlsen will play Wesley So. The site also maintains a list of chess streamers—who use Chess.com, of course—which can be found here (opens in new tab).
While chess obviously has a long tradition of competition, with its own associations and federations, Chess.com seems keen to brand its events as esports. And they are, really, if esports are competitive matches in electronic games. The only difference is that I imagine they won't be nerfing rooks in a surprise patch.
Aside from broadcasting official Chess.com events, the partnership will "improve monetization opportunities for Chess.com content creators, enabling them to be more successful," reads Twitch's press release.
I'm pleased by any move to pipe more King's Gambits and whatnot into my PC. I can't keep up with the good players, but part of the fun is watching their plans take shape and then working backwards to understand what they were thinking.
I also think it would be hilarious and fun if chess caught on big with mainstream competitive PC gamers. It's unlikely, but just imagine getting to talk about chess and Dota 2 in the same way. I want arenas full of chess fans wearing face paint. I want chess cosplay. Please make this happen for me. (Granted, chess competitions are already a pretty big deal with the right crowd (opens in new tab).)
Correction: An earlier version of this story said that the Speed Chess Championship (opens in new tab) takes place on November 21, but that is incorrect. It will be held on November 18.