‘This is a period of insanity’: Soviet grandmaster Anatoly Karpov on chess racism debate
Soviet and Russian chess legend Anatoly Karpov has commented on the recent debate over racism in the game, which has caused outrage on social media, calling it ‘a period of total insanity’ which has nothing to do with chess.
“A period of total insanity has begun,” the former world champion said. “What does it have in common with the centuries-old game?”
Last week, John Adams, an economist who represented the Australian Chess Federation in 2015, revealed he had been contacted by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) radio station in Sydney to comment on the matter of racial controversy in chess, because white always moves first.
“I just received a phone call from an ABC Sydney based producer seeking a comment about the game of chess! The ABC have taken the view that chess is RACIST given that white always go first!” he wrote on Twitter after dismissing the request, sparking an online debate.
🚨 BREAKING 🚨
I just received a phone call from an ABC Sydney based producer seeking a comment about the game of chess!
The ABC have taken the view that chess is RACIST given that white always go first!
They are seeking comment from a chess official as to whether
— John Adams (@adamseconomics) June 23, 2020
Russian grand master and former world chess champion Garry Kasparov refuted the idea of any racial discrimination in chess, asking activists to choose another game for their “investigations.”
“If you are worried that the game of chess is racist, please take up Go, where black moves first, instead of looking foolish by wasting taxpayer money at a state broadcaster to ‘investigate’ it!” Kasparov wrote.
If you are worried that the game of chess is racist, please take up Go, where black moves first, instead of looking foolish by wasting taxpayer money at a state broadcaster to “investigate” it! https://t.co/DPjvvWbqcb
— Garry Kasparov (@Kasparov63) June 23, 2020
This is not the first time the rule of white pieces moving first has been said to be racially motivated. Last year, two grandmasters – Norwegian legend Magnus Carlsen and Anish Giri of the Netherlands – challenged the longstanding rule as a part of the United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
In a video which was shared on Carlsen’s page, the world chess champion was shown playing a game in which the black pieces made the first move.
— Magnus Carlsen (@MagnusCarlsen) March 20, 2019
“We broke a rule today,” Carlsen said, adding that “the dream of having perfect equality between races is still far from coming true.”
Global anti-racist initiatives have intensified after the killing of unarmed black civilian George Floyd in Minneapolis, USA, led to large-scale protests throughout the world.