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Meanwhile, Magnus Carlsen is Meeting Mark Zuckerberg & Bill Gates

  • PeterDoggers
  • on 1/22/14, 6:29 AM.

Many chess fans are wondering why Magnus Carlsen, who played the Tata Steel tournament ten times in a row, isn't present in Wijk aan Zee this year. Well, one reason might be a number of very interesting meetings he's had in the United States.

Early January Magnus Carlsen traveled to the U.S. together with his manager Espen Agdestein for several sponsor and promotional events. The first stop was Las Vegas, where Carlsen performed a simul against twenty opponents . The special thing was that Carlsen and his opponents were having a heart rate monitor attached to their bodies during the games.

Nordic Semiconduction, who provided the device and who are one of Carlsen's sponsors, stated that they hope using a heart rate monitor will be introduced at chess events. Here's a video report by VG (see a report by NRK here):

About a week later, on Wednesday, January 16th Carlsen was the guest of honor at a dinner party thrown by billionaire investor Yuri Milner, a famous Russian entrepreneur and venture capitalist. Milner is an investor in e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, and Groupon. The dinner was held at Milner's mansion in Silicon Valley. 

These events in the Bay area were to benefit America's Foundation for Chess and the 1st Move school programs. Eric Anderson was the person behind Carlsen's home visits, to the Churchill Club, as well as the luncheon at Silicon Valley Bank.

Carlsen played chess against several tech CEOs, including e.g. Art Levinson, who has been the chairman of the board of Apple since Steve Jobs passed away in October 2011. Carlsen also played against Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook. Last Thursday the following picture was posted on Carlsen's Facebook page:

Carlsen: “Teaching Mark Zuckerberg some chess. Incredibly quick learner, glad he is at Facebook!”

A day later, Carlsen joined an event held at the Computer History Museum's Churchill Club, where he was interviewed for an hour by Peter Thiel, an American entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and hedge fund manager (and e.g. co-founder of PayPal). The world champion obviously discussed chess, but also talked about e.g. the strengths and weaknesses of computers, the value of thinking fast, and the importance of eating well.

This Friday Carlsen will meet another big name in tech: the founder of Microsoft and rich philantropist Bill Gates. “(...) the charity of his work, as he does so wonderfully much better and effective than all governments around the world. That's what I think is really admirable,” said Carlsen to TV2.

The two will be guests in Skavlan, a Norwegian-Swedish television talk show hosted by Norwegian journalist Fredrik Skavlan. Previous guests in the show include Michael Palin, Sinead O'Connor, Wyclef Jean, Judit Polgar, Bruno Mars, Ruby Wax, Robbie Williams, Jon Bon Jovi, Richard Dawkins, Kevin Costner, Will Smith and David Guetta. Carlsen also was a guest in the show of 14 October 2011.

Later this month, Carlsen will (finally) be back at the chess board in Zurich.

17644 reads 38 comments
5 votes


  • 14 months ago


    I surely agree with Boorchess. In order to motivate the chess players and also the potential players, no doubt there needs to be a good prize money like in soccer, football, basketball etc. The chess tournaments in the US is really lagging good prize money, they don't have any sponsors. Let us take the example of Millionaire Chess Open, which is going to be held in some months from now. It has an entry fee of minimum $1,000. The organizers want to make chess like poker. But chess cannot be a poker and poker cannot be chess. In order to attract many chess players, the entry fee needs to be reduced and the prize money needs to be increased, this is the only way of promoting chess. Let us see what Carlsen will do.

  • 14 months ago

    FM Boorchess

    I do hope they put their heads together and sponsor some European style chess events in the USA. Magnus Carlsen has only played one tournament here and before that it was longer than a decade that we had a "Super Tournament" on US soil(Intel Rapids). I am very interested to see if our popular, young, champion will work for his own interest and help revitalize the US pro tournament circuit. Or is this simpy a grab and dash dinner and back to the "high chess culture" lands of sponsored tournaments in Europe.

    It is great that they are putting some money towards chess in the schools programs, but what about actual tournament chess and raising the standard of the pro circuit in the USA. What are all those kids supposed to aspire to ? What will keep them interested and wanting to become a GM ?

    If the NBA was not on television and the players not making millions of dollars not many would care. The same goes for chess; When will our tournaments be in the media spot light and the professional players fighting for prestigious prizes ? Outside of the US Championship the top prizes on the us circuit are only profitable if you win clear first prize.If Zuckerman or Gates would get behind somthing like millionairechess.com we could ride the renewed interest in chess that Carlsen has generated and create a real boom: Chess finally enters the big time with corporate sponsors, media coverage and a growth in chess interest for all ages.

    Awesome they will have more chess in the schools programs, but I want to checkmate someone and win a Tesla (or at least an IPad).

    Come on Magnus!


  • 14 months ago


    These events were set up by America's Foundation for Chess for their 1st Move schools program. Congratulations to Wendi Fisher, Erik Anderson and team on creating some great excitement for chess and we hope these folks are generous in supporting your efforts.

  • 14 months ago


    I hope Mr. Bill Gates donates to help long time members (like me) of chess.com get premium memberships! : )

  • 14 months ago


    It would be nice if Magnus could pick up a sponsor like Microsoft!  With that kind of financial backing pumped into the chess world the sport would certainly grow and gain widespread popularity!

  • 14 months ago


    Mark Zuckerberg is going to be 2000 Elo at this rate LOL

  • 14 months ago


    Chess desperately needs a telegenic and charismatic spokesman if it is ever to gain the kind of serious business support that everyone agrees it needs.  

    Sure, what Magnus is doing benefits him, but in the long run it benefits the game even more.

  • 14 months ago


    So typical of the Euro's, just trying to suck up to our big money boys.  I expected more out of Magnus.  Embarassed

  • 14 months ago


    I couldn't imagine Anand doing these sorts of things. It's nice to see the new champ promoting chess.

  • 14 months ago


    heart rate monitors are very cool idea. I would like to see this in candidates match.

  • 14 months ago


    great :)

  • 14 months ago


    It is evident that Carlsen is bound to popularize chess to the highest level universally, and it will be going to happen very soon, as seen by his great moves to influence the top billionaires in the world.

  • 14 months ago


    Looks like someone is looking for more sponsors ;)

  • 14 months ago


    Hope these big guns will sponsor chess...

  • 14 months ago


    woho this Magnus have done remarkable things teaching Mark and Bill Gates!.What moments he had faced ! which one would dream to embrace.

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