Kasparovchess — When Developers Get Creative

A few months ago the chess app world got a new player on board: Kasparovchess.

The platform is aimed not just at users who want to enjoy a good game of chess but also to improve their skills, learn from the chess grandmasters, and find a variety of content (live streams, videos, podcasts, interviews, articles, etc.).

What makes Kasparovchess unique is that it is a community-first chess platform, it unites several channels into one, and gathers chess grandmasters. However, it is not just the platform’s features that make this platform stand out from the crowd, yet the whole development background story.

Seize the Opportunity and Make it Great

In the past year, we’ve witnessed huge changes in various businesses, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some industries were forced to shift their business focus, some big companies even filed for bankruptcy, but one industry experienced tremendous growth — the mobile gaming industry.

Fact: In 2020, the mobile gaming industry generated over 77.2 billion U.S. dollars in revenue.

Just a couple of months before the international lockdowns had started, the chess industry started to bloom. The popularity of Netflix’s TV series The Queen’s Gambit raised interest in chess games, chess-related content, master classes, and most of all — chess apps.

Fact: Chess.com, had an increase in millions of members after the Queen’s Gambit’s release and, Lichess.com, doubled the number of standard chess games.

It seems as Netflix has completely disrupted the chess world! And this is when Garry Kasparov, the famous Russian chess grandmaster, former World Chess Champion, made once again a perfect move. This time, business-wise.

Several years before the whole chess hype caused by the Queen’s Gambit and the lockdowns, Kasparov came up with an idea to create a platform that will become his legacy, the above-mentioned, Kasparovchess.

Chess gave me so much that I feel that it’s my responsibility to give back, to promote the game, and share the joy it brought me and still brings — explains Kasparov.

The platform was fully developed by OSM, a Serbian software development company that managed to finish the development in a very short period of time, so Kasparovchess’s launch was right in the middle of the online chess boom.

Since the platform includes a broad range of content and features, it was quite challenging for OSM to create a multi-platform solution that can enable a seamless user experience. However, the end result turned out to be even better than the initial product idea.

The Art of Problem-Solving

One of the obstacles that OSM had to overcome is to make the iOS version compatible with all the above-mentioned features.

Vladimir, the main iOS developer from OSM explained how the team used, at that point, the beta version of Apple’s Swift UI.

Swift UI is an innovative, very easy way to build a user interface across all Apple platforms. Moreover, we, at OSM, have always strived to use modern technology to solve problems (that’s the beauty of our job, isn’t it?).

 As for Kasparovchess, we started with the beta version of the Swift UI and we must admit that it was a big challenge to figure out how to consolidate it with Objective C.

 There are three layers in order to get from Swift UI to Objective C:

  1. The Swift layer
  2. The Objective layer
  3. The Objective ++

We’ve started out with just a prototype, but with a great desire to show Garry Kasparov’s team that our solution can work exactly as we imagined. The main challenge was to find an architecture that can work on multiple programming languages, but exactly as we’ve imagined. Our suggestion was the view-view-model architecture.

We’ve mixed five different programming languages and various architectures in order for everything to work flawlessly.

This way, by using creativity and knowledge, we’ve managed to deliver incredible results, that we are very proud of. — concludes Vladimir.

The Pandemic-Agile Methodology

The thing with the pandemic is that it completely changed the way some companies operate. Despite the fact that development can fully be done remotely, the OSM team has always been working together in the offices, enjoyed after-hour beers and coffees, which made the team collaborate as a pack. And that had a huge influence on the success of the projects they’ve worked on.

During the COVID-19 quarantine situation, the team needed to adjust to working from home, online meetings…and that happened right in the middle of the Kasparovchess development process. However, the fact that the team worked closely together helped them to adjust to the new situation.

The team isn’t afraid to get out of the comfort zone, to share ideas, and criticize those that come from the clients themselves. Of course, all in order to make top-notch project deliverables.

Kasparovchess is a perfect example of how we managed to coordinate our small team with a media conglomerate Vivendi, and all many other (much bigger) teams involved in the project. The task list was long, but we managed to complete every single detail, suggest even more features and solutions even though those suggestions just made our job harder. — explain at OSM.

The key is to adjust the strategy and roadmaps with strict deadlines but to remain flexible at the same time. Doesn’t sound that easy, right? Well, that’s why a good team spirit, good communication, and a good project manager. Ah, yes — agile methodology surely comes in handy in these situations.

All in All

Challenges inspire people to find creative solutions. However, knowledge and experience are crucial to creating innovative solutions, as showcased in the Kasparovchess example.