After the flood World Chess App

World Chess App

“How do we make a live event more interesting for all visitors?”


World Chess

The Problem

Sponsors attending live chess events can't easily tell what is happening in the games

Our Solution

A ‘chesscasting’ app to provide overview of the current match status along with deeper dive information


The ‘chesscasting’ app was launched alongside inaugural World Chess event

“How do we make a live event more interesting for all visitors?”

The World Chess organisation asked us to create digital products that would entertain and inform chess fans and those new to the game. This media system would focus on the World Championship tournaments and could exist on big-screens as well as tablets in the audience and at home.


Dubbed ‘Chesscasting’ by Andrew Paulson, the owner of the competition, this app seeks to engage spectators at tournaments. Each spectator receives a tablet, preloaded with the Chesscasting app. This gives them an overview and an in-depth view of the live games. In addition, there is commentary, discussion features, and the ability to see all games live as well as background information on the players.

Our role was consulting on the digital product design. We advised on how to shape the combination of user experience and information design. How would time as well as space be used? What information would expert chess fans want to see? 

The service map below allows the client to see all touchpoints of the service and how they fit together. We also created an event architecture diagram that showed the media formats required at different stages of the events.

User Spectrum

The first version of the product was built to gather feedback on key features. For the version one build, we were keen that the app not be overloaded. One key consideration was balancing the needs of a simple overview with the complexity demanded from chess fans. As well as experts, there would be guests and sponsors in the audience who would need some orientation in the game.

An early experiment in how to construct a visual language for describing the events of a match. Key to this was a sense of ‘ebb and flow’ or advantage to the players.

Out of our experiments came a body of knowledge about how users make sense of the game. Tools for forecasting likely next moves and ways of expressing match momentum were of particular interest. 

New Syntax

A key invention for the second iteration was the ‘advantage bar’, a device for indicating  who was winning at any moment in the match. The advantage bar is like the 10-yard line in American Football. It is an example of introducing new ‘syntax’ into the system – it was a new way of talking about success – and it is something we see in many other projects we work on.

The main user need we saw that was completely unaddressed by the technology currently available – and a key question for the more novice audience – was ‘who is winning?’. The advantage bar goes some way to addressing that.

Next Steps

This project shows our ability to understand and transform complex ideas into usable and engaging products. The ‘discovery’ phase uncovers the needs of users as well as information about the domain and overall needs of the business/client. We are looking forward to the next versions, where the product will get better and better as it seeks to address the needs of 500 million chess fans world-wide.

Our Partners

During development, we all vastly improved our chess knowledge (though none of us will be challenging Magnus Carlsen anytime soon) but it was great to have the help of World Chess chief-of-staff Robert Fontaine. Robert is a chess Grand Master and his domain expertise allowed us to navigate some of the more complex indicators of advantage as well as scenarios for game outcomes. We worked with the team at World Chess, who put on the competition, Pentagram who did the graphic identity and Thoughtworks who did the engineering.

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