Arab Esports Federation makes move to launch online chess platform

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RIYADH: A media company based in Australia has agreed an exclusive long-term online chess partnership with the Arab Esports Federation.

Under the terms of the deal, VADR Media’s esports-first chess-focused tournament and broadcast platform Checkmate.live will become the federation’s official online chess platform, data, and broadcast partner.

In September, Checkmate also announced a similar arrangement with the Asian Chess Federation, which has 52 national chess federation members throughout Asia, the Middle East, and Oceania.

Both international partnerships further expand Checkmate’s reach in Asia, Oceania, the Middle East, and Africa.

Checkmate recently opened an office in the UAE and has been invited to attend the Next World conference in Riyadh as part of the Gamer8 Festival.

The linkup will allow both federations to plan and broadcast regular online esports-chess events while gaining access to Checkmate’s artificial intelligence anti-cheat and integrity program.

The Arab Esports Federation is the governing body of esports for 18 national associations in the Middle East and wider Arab region. The organization’s secretariat is based in the UAE, its headquarters are in Riyadh, and it is led by Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan.

Checkmate is an esports-first competitive chess media company focused on producing and broadcasting linear and online tournaments for a new generation of players.

At its heart it is an extended reality-led, international esports series and a skills-based web3 platform that provides the opportunity to compete for glory, cash, credits, and in-game assets.

A key feature of the platform is its world-leading proprietary AI and computer vision-based chess anti-cheat program, which utilises a player’s web camera to monitor online match integrity.

Arab Esports Federation Secretary-General Hisham Al-Taher said: “The Arab Esports Federation is delighted to partner with Checkmate and whole-heartedly supports their vision of improving the integrity of the online game and promoting it as both an esport and sport.

“Online chess is not a sports simulation; it’s a natural extension of the over-the-board game. It is a game that brings with it many positive benefits, including higher female participation than esports, cognitive and mental improvements for players, good sportsmanship, and brand safety for stakeholders,” he added.

It is estimated globally that up to 700 million people play the 1,500-year-old skill-based game, with 420 million of them aged between 18 and 34, the same demographic that has also seen brands increasingly flock to esports.

John McRae, managing director of VADR and Checkmate, said: “We are honoured to partner with the Arab Esports Federation under the leadership of its president, Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan.

“It is often said that youth own the future, and this is very much the case in the Middle East and Gulf countries where the majority of the 420 million Arabic-speaking population is under 35 and love gaming and chess.”

Al-Taher said: “The Arab Esports League has been very successful among our members. The addition of competitive online chess as an esports series enables greater access for the wider community to participate in a structured innovative and positive experience.

“Our strategic alliance with Checkmate allows further opportunity to celebrate the diversity of the gaming community.”

Checkmate’s take on chess, one of the world’s most popular games, will launch in the first quarter of 2023 on web and mobile.

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