Saturday, December 5, 2015

Streamin' on

It's the weekend, so it's time for me to get nontraditional. But instead of covering reality crud or cooking shows or improv comedy or talentless talent contests, as other sites do, I'll cover Internet chess. Which at least has the excuse of being a real game, with objective rules and verifiable winners and losers.

In particular, I'll cover the sometimes seedy underside of Internet chess, the streamer community. These are guys who "stream" their games online. In other words, they play blitz (three or five-minute games) or bullet (one-minute games) while streaming their more or less witty comments at the same time.

Some streamers, like grandmaster Peter Svidler (Russia) or international master John Bartholomew (U.S.), always keep their streams family friendly and educational. In particular, IM Bartholomew has posted a huge number of videos on his YouTube channel, which is well worth a look for its instructional value. Other streamers...well, not so much on instruction. They're more in the entertainment side of the business. And sometimes it's R-rated entertainment.

Which can be a lot of fun, of course. Case in point: Chessbrah, the YouTube home of GMs Eric Hansen (Canada) and Robin van Kempen (the Netherlands). This is not a channel for those of sensitive ears. For instance, Eric and Robin once played an online bullet match against each other, which set some kind of all-time chess record for use of the f-word and other words.

At one point van Kempen threw a banana at the screen in reaction to a brutal checkmate. This prompted a comment from Hansen about what he was going to do with his own banana.

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