One year ago, Magnus Carlsen created the ‘Magnus Carlsen Invitational’ tournament which brought professional chess online for the first time. The tournament helped spark an online chess renaissance and became the first event of a series of online tournaments known as the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour.
Breakthrough Initiatives is a suite of space science programs investigating the big questions of life in the Universe, such as whether primitive cellular life exists on nearby planets, whether there are other intelligent life-forms beyond Earth, and how far human civilization can voyage into space. The Breakthrough Junior Challenge is a global science video competition primarily for high-school students. Both projects were founded by tech and science investor and philanthropist Yuri Milner and his wife Julia and funded by the Breakthrough Prize Foundation.
The partnership is testament to the renewed popularity of chess, attracting interest from some of the biggest names in the tech industry.
Innovation and technology have made chess more accessible, and its popularity has skyrocketed in the last year due to a combination of Magnus Carlsen and other top chess players competing regularly online in the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour; increased cultural interest stemming from the Netflix series ‘The Queen’s Gambit’; and chess booming in popularity with Twitch streamers.
“The Breakthrough Prize Foundation is simply a great non-profit. I’ve been involved with the Breakthrough Initiatives from the start and am always curious and fascinated by their efforts in exploring life in the universe. With this partnership, I hope the best chess players in the world can come together and bring more awareness to the Breakthrough Junior Challenge, which inspires students from around the world to explore their favorite scientific theories,” says World Champion Magnus Carlsen.
This partnership is a step change for chess and will help bring the sport to a larger audience. The chess world, the tech industry, and space exploration have a long history of intersecting with each other, and for us to now get the opportunity to partner with some of the greatest minds in the tech industry, using the game we love to promote space science is the culmination of many years of shared history,” says Andreas Thome, CEO of Play Magnus Group.
“Magnus, with his incredible mind and accomplishments, is an inspiration not only to chessplayers but to millions of young people with curiosity about deep ideas,” said Julia Milner. “We hope that his support for the Breakthrough Junior Challenge will also inspire them to take part this year.”
Magnus Carlsen and the Milners have known each other for years, and Carlsen has been inspired by their interest in space. Five years ago, Carlsen was one of the co-signers of Breakthrough’s space initiative’s open letter, urging an investigation of intelligence in space. Drawing parallels between space and chess, Carlsen says: “Just like space, chess is infinite. In fact, there are more potential moves in chess than atoms in the universe”.
About the 2021 Meltwater Champions Chess Tour
The 2021 Meltwater Champions Chess Tour will, for the first time in history, determine the world’s best chess player over a full competitive season of online chess. Beginning in November 2020, the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour features monthly tournaments culminating in a final tournament in September 2021. The best chess players in the world will compete in a total of ten tournaments of rapid chess. All games will take place online on www.chess24.com with players competing for a total prize pool of USD 1.5 million.
About Play Magnus Group
Play Magnus Group is a global leader in the chess industry focused on providing premier digital experiences for millions of chess players and students. The company offers e-learning and entertainment services via its market leading brands: chess24, Chessable, iChess, CoChess, the Play Magnus App Suite, and the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour. The Group’s mission is to grow chess to make the world a smarter place by encouraging more people to play, watch, study, and earn a living from chess.