On May 29, the 16 best chess players in the world competed FTX Crypto Cup. Hundreds of thousands of fans have followed Chess24.com, Twitch, Youtube and the Champions Chess Tour to see their favorite players beat them in the nine-day event. But unlike previous tournaments of this size, where the prize pool is always set and paid in US dollars, the FTX Crypto Cup was different. Thanks to the crypto derivatives exchange FTX and its CEO, Sam Bankman-Fried, the tournament prize money of $220,000 was supplemented by 2.1825 BTC, split among the winners.
Bitcoin enthusiasts have spent the better part of a decade defending the currency. They argue that bitcoin will transform the world, democratizing finance by diluting and decentralizing the power currently wielded by Wall Street, politicians and technocrats. Skeptics have called Bitcoin a “scam,” a “Ponzi scheme” and a “speculative bubble.” However, over time, the most ardent Bitcoin pundits slowly reversed their positions, institutional investors bought up and “digital gold” continued to spread throughout our society. The FTX Crypto Cup is just another example of Bitcoin moving into the mainstream. Ostensibly, this is all the news to report – a crypto company sponsored a chess tournament with bitcoin.
But I think there is a deeper story here. What do bitcoin and chess have in common? What can chess players learn from bitcoin and what can bitcoin customers learn from chess? Is there an overlap between the two communities? Does Magnus Carlsen Hold Bitcoin? How good is Sam Bankman-Fried at chess? To answer these questions, I interviewed World Champion and #1 ranked player Magnus Carlsen, FTX Founder and CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, Youtubers GothamChess and BTCSessions, and Vice President at BTC Inc. Means the game of chess itself.
Hard rules, hard money أموال
More than 1,600 years ago, it was Gupta Empire Rule over a prosperous India. Trade with kingdoms in South and Southeast Asia was flourishing. For the first time in human history, the number zero was incorporated into the decimal place number systems. Scientists assumed that the Earth rotates on its axis and that the Moon reflects light from the Sun. Poets, sculptors, and architects changed the path of art forever. Great strides in science, culture and technology laid the foundation for the course of Indian civilization. And here, at some point when the Gupta Empire was beginning to fade, two people sat in front of a board and played the first game of what would be called chess.
It was originally known as ChaturangaChess, its early predecessor, bears a striking resemblance to its modern counterpart. Kings, generals (queens), chariots (ravens), elephants (bishops), and horses (knights) straddled the back rows of an 8×8 board, which was protected by a row of foot soldiers (pawns). The rules of the game changed dramatically when Chaturanga arrived in Europe. By 1500, modern chess was taking southern Europe by storm. That game, with the exception of some rule changes made in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, was the same as chess that is played today. How does a game born in the sixth century and established hundreds of years ago maintain its integrity over hundreds of years? The answer is hard rules and soft forks, basic principles that the bitcoin world knows all too well.
With the increasing popularity of chess, mathematicians and theorists of the slow process began to introduce, defend, and solidify a set of rules that everyone could agree on. Crucially, these changes were incremental improvements rather than changes that changed the basics of chess so that it became a completely different game. This process unfolded until the 19th century, after which the rules of chess did not really change. Now the basic components of chess, the 8×8 board, the placement of the pieces and their legal moves and the conditions for winning, will likely not change. Balancing strict adherence to a set of rules with room for improvement and subtle changes is what has given chess its longevity and immortality. According to Flip Abagnale, VP at BTC Media, this model of change is very similar to Bitcoin’s concept of soft forks. “The whole idea is backwards compatibility,” Abagnale said. “With soft forks, we’re not changing bitcoin drastically, we’re adding improvements. Without soft forks, we’d be at a dead end. We would never be able to learn from advances in mathematics and computer science.” This process is sensitive, as the critical component of Bitcoin is its stability. The decentralized network’s ledger cannot be changed, only 21 million bitcoins ever exist, etc. Like a game of chess, Bitcoin’s strict rules will never change, but soft forks create the breathing space needed for improvement. If the success of chess is any indication, Bitcoin’s balancing of hard rules and soft forks provides it with the unique ability to last through the ages.
When COVID-19 news started to dominate the headlines last March, the world as we knew it came to a halt. With large parts of the economy virtually shut down, millions of people around the world have found themselves at home and online looking to kill time. These factors in 2020 and the first months of 2021 paved the way for massive booms both in the world of chess and in Bitcoin. The sale of chess boards has increased by more than 1000%Senior university professors care Through streams on Twitch and Youtube, the viewership of those streams broke previous highs. Likewise, the skyrocketing price of Bitcoin increased the coverage of the asset nationwide and millions of people heard about it and invested in it for the first time. As the online communities surrounding both Chess and Bitcoin saw a massive influx of first-time players and investors respectively, prominent content creators have turned to attracting entry-level viewership. I sat down with the two of them to talk about chess and bitcoin.
levi rosman He is a 25-year-old International Chess Master from New York. During the onset of the pandemic, he stopped teaching private chess lessons and focused full time on his YouTube channel, GothamChess. “I directed all my energy from persuading 6-year-olds that chess is important to convincing everyone from ages 6 to 99 that chess is important and wonderful,” Roseman said. “The chess boom has been crazy. It went from about 110,000 views every 48 hours to 1.8 million views.” Rozman’s channel reached 300 million impressions in one month during the chess boom and his account now has over 1 million subscribers.
Ben Beren, known in Youtube Like BTC Sessions, it is one of the biggest creators of Bitcoin content. Ben struggled to find entry-level content about bitcoin in 2013 and 2014 and worked as a breakdancing teacher before deciding to work on a Youtube channel geared towards people new to the world of bitcoin and cryptocurrency. “The transition from teaching complex dance moves to children to teaching complex technology to adults was relatively similar,” Perrin said. “I started making one video a week that answers a general entry-level question about Bitcoin.” The BTCSessions account has grown rapidly over the years and now, with nearly 60,000 subscribers, Youtube is Ben’s full-time job.
Both Levi and Ben have taken full advantage of the incredible growth of their communities over the past year or so. “I built around the novice audience and wanted to welcome them and make my channel their go-to for all things chess,” Rosman said. Similarly, Perrin told me, “I had content for a year before the boom, and a lot of that evergreen content helped get me sign ups. As things took off, I turned the content into tutorials, and remade many of my core videos on things like Hardware wallets, fees, Lightning Network, Liquid, and all the new relevant aspects of Bitcoin now. I want new people to be able to come in and get all the information they need on playlists.”
While both societies have grown independently of each other, so have the overlaps between the world of chess and Bitcoin. Rozman, who “bought bitcoin at 750, sold it at 900, and felt like a genius at the time” years ago saw the bitcoin price drop at the start of 2020 as an opportunity to “buy at a discount.” Popular chess YouTuber Agadmator has been accepting donations of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies from its 1 million subscribers for years. Magnus Carlsen, the best chess player in the world, told me, “My dad and I have made some investments in cryptocurrency over the past seven months, and it’s been great to watch its development.” Roseman noted, “I’ve been asked a lot to put in a bitcoin address to accept donations…I’m working on it.”
A global network for everyone
Both chess and bitcoin share hard rules and soft forks. Both communities have seen an exponential growth in demand for entry-level content during the pandemic. But now, more than ever, the two groups collide. On his way to the Indy 500 to support his Bitcoin car, Strike CEO Jack Mallers He directed me to talk about chess and bitcoin. “Both chess and bitcoin are two of the most global in nature,” Mallers said. “You have the best players scattered all over the world. Anyone can participate, and anyone can find out what they need to learn for free online.” Jack, who has a 2100 ELO chess rating, is excited about the future intersections and possibilities between chess and Bitcoin.
FTX CEO Sam Bankman Fried Apparently “he was never good at chess”. But that didn’t stop the 29-year-old billionaire from adding $100,000 in bitcoin to the elite chess tournament’s prize pool. When asked why he did this, Sam told me, “For the same reason you are writing this article. There is a huge overlap between the crypto-fans and chess, and this gave us an opportunity to help bring the two worlds together.” The FTX Crypto Cup may be the first major cross between Chess and Bitcoin, but it likely won’t be the last. When asked about the future of chess tournaments with bitcoin prizes, Magnus Carlsen said, “The inclusion of an additional bitcoin prize fund for this tournament is a new element that I hope will draw more interest for the FTX Crypto Cup and for the round. I am generally positive about innovation and testing new opportunities in the surrounding elements. with chess”. While Bankman-Fried did not promise more prize sponsorship, he noted that “cryptocurrency-based prizes are easy and natural for chess.”
This is a guest post by David Zell. The opinions expressed are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of BTC Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.