Judit Polgár vs The World

Event Description and Key Objectives

The goal: the promotion of chess and the Hungarian pavilion of the EXPO 2020 exhibition in an unprecedented form, reaching hundreds of thousands of chess lovers or chess enthusiasts without spending millions on traditional media appearances. To organize an interactive, hybrid event that celebrates the sport of chess and activates enough participants for Judit Polgar’s world record attempt. In a show-style simultaneous event Judit Polgár played against influencers and their communities from all over the world, with an additional “world board” where anyone could compete against the chess grandmaster. With the help of 10 international influencers, we reached macro and micro communities that are difficult to activate through traditional marketing tools. The all-day live stream was broadcast from our studio in Budapest and the Hungarian Pavilion in Dubai. Anyone could join and have an impact on the outcome of the game with their vote through our uniquely developed gamification platform.

Key challenges

Chess, Judit, robots, world record – that was our client’s vision. This was a special case seeing that we did not want to sell or promote a product or service of a brand, but Hungary itself. The responsibility was an honorable task: to represent our country at the World Expo, including any related activity – but with limited resources for communication. We needed to present an amazingly creative idea. Our invention was a new format in the world of chess: an unprecedented, worldwide chess simul, where anybody from anywhere could play against one grandmaster, Judit Polgár. We gathered the chess community with the help of the most popular international influencers, added a robotic solution, connected many locations and unified them into one worldwide broadcast. With this concept we could transcend geographical boundaries, allowing global participation.

Basic information about the event

Name of the organiser

Universum 8


Budapest & Dubai

Event duration




Event results


Judit Polgár vs The World was a unique, hybrid community experience that united chess fans around the world in an epic game, merged the online and the offline world, so anybody could participate. The live show was nearly 8 hours long, the unique and interactive elements ensured that viewers watched and participated for longer periods. For this, we built 2 studios, handled the streaming from two different locations, including 10 international influencers who joined the stream in various times. In the first part of the show, chess grandmaster Judit Polgár played a simul with 10 well-known influencers from all over the world. In parallel, a joint game, a record attempt was happening. Anyone could join by voting for the next move on a virtual chessboard on the Vote Chess website, which was tracked by a digital smart chessboard in Dubai. The record attempt was a special challenge, that educated, entertained and drew attention to the Hungarian Pavilion and Hungary.


Connecting Minds with the First Global Interactive Community Chess Simul – this was our goal, and for a brand new event we had to invent brand new elements that included software development, system integration, broadcasting, social media management, talent management, video production, live editing, streaming. It was a complex end-to-end in-house project without involving outsourcing. For the World Board we developed a unique gamification platform, therefore all participating players could cast their votes for the next move against Judit. After summarizing the votes our system physically made the winning move on the remotely controllable chessboard, to which Judit was able to react immediately on the spot. Thanks to the system, those joining online from many parts of the world were brought as close as possible to the chess grandmaster. Due to preliminary data collection, we were able to play different data visualizations about the players and movements during the show as well.


Due to the special location, we set up 2 studios: 1. The entire program control, live stream editing and central streaming were done from Budapest, with 2 international star anchors and nearly 30 of our colleagues who worked on the production. During the show 10 influencers and the Dubai studio joined the live broadcast simultaneously and we also played pre-recorded video material, live stats and replays. 2. Our studio in Dubai was the converted dome of the Hungarian Pavilion, where we built a stage that hosted Judit and the 11 interactive chessboards during the show. Here 10 of our colleagues managed the stream connection with Budapest, organized communication, supervised the technical equipment and chessboards. Prior to the live show, we conducted several tours and technical trials in Dubai. For involving the audience we introduced the World Board which let anybody to join the live game through our uniquely developed gamification platform.

Measurable results

Defining KPIs was a challenging task, as no one had done anything like this before, we didn’t have a benchmark, we didn’t know how many people might be interested in this kind of worldwide online movement. We set an average audience of 10,000, which we successfully achieved, thanks to the quality of an international TV show. The show was not only broadcast on one main channel, but each involved influencer streamed their own game on their own platform. In terms of the number of chess players, we wanted to make 1,000 people play, but in order to ensure security, we provided a server background capable of handling 10,000 users. Finally, the world table featured 1,636 unique registered players from 77 countries. To our knowledge, no one has ever attempted such a record attempt, in which a chess grandmaster plays against more than a thousand minds simultaneously in an online gamified setting during a hybrid event. FIDE recognized the result of the campaign and event as a world record.


INTERACTIVE/ONLINE – Gamification For involving the audience, we implemented the idea of a World Board, on which anyone could join the game. Through our uniquely developed gamification platform, all players could vote for the next move, our system physically made the winning move on the remotely controllable chessboard, and Judit could react immediately. Taking advantage of the streaming platforms of Twitch, YouTube and Facebook, we received continuous feedback about the show, and we were able to immediately incorporate the best ideas and questions. We also drew prizes among the viewers, to motivate and engage them. SOCIAL MEDIA – Channels, influencers When selecting influencers, it was important to ensure that we could reach the widest possible audience, both geographically and demographically, and that we could communicate with a diversity of content. We developed the entire communication relying on their social media channels, making it as social and organic as possible.

Sustainable practices

The hybrid implementation of the event allowed us to reduce the carbon footprint. Only Judit and the most necessary colleagues serving the studio of the Hungarian Pavilion travelled to Dubai, where we employed local staff. Our main base was the studio in Budapest, where 30 colleagues worked. The 10 chess influencers from all over the world joined the broadcast online, from their own homes, as did the approximately 1,000,000 viewers/players who attended the event. With the gifts we also tried to minimize unnecessary waste. At expos usually disposable plastic gifts are handed out, which only provide joy for a short time and then typically end up in the trash. Instead of these we focused on gifts that helped participants to enrich their experiences primarily through virtual content, digital gifts and premium quality goodies, which have lasting value and have little or no harmful impact on our environment.

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