As a chess player who has grown up and played almost exclusively in the United States since the 1970s, it has always been my impression that chess is thought to be more widely recognized in European cultures than in my home country, and perhaps in most other parts of the world, too. I personally experienced the sudden surge in interest in chess nationally in 1972 as a teenager, when Bobby Fischer became world champion. In recent years, such surges have swept India as Vishy Anand became world champ, and now sweep Norway as Magnus Carlsen inspires national pride.
I’m happy to report on some appearances by Magnus here in the US that indicate the extent that the new world champion is working to further popularize chess far beyond his native land. This week, he is appearing for two days at what is probably the world’s largest hi-tech trade show in the world, the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, in association with a Nordic hi-tech firm:
And next week, Magnus is presenting in California’s Silicon Valley, as described here in LM Dana Mackenzie’s blog:
Equally significant is who is presenting Magnus to the public – one of the world’s leading entrepreneurs, chess master and PayPal founder Peter Thiel – and the venue – the Computer History Museum, which features a permanent gallery on the history of chess and computing.
Magnus is, of course, becoming a major figure among sportsmen worldwide – something only achieved by perhaps three or four grandmasters at most in modern times. But he is also doing a great deal to promote the role of chess as an educational tool, working with the leading US chess foundation to promote use of their First Move Chess curriculum in 2nd and 3rd grade classrooms. I, too, have been working to assist with this in more modest ways, and am very excited to see his leadership in this area. I will have more info to share on this in the next week.