BBC's Across the Board: Sigrid Rausing

by Albert Silver
10/30/2014 – The third episode of Across the Board brought in Sigrid Rausing, founder of the Sigrid Rausing Trust, one of the United Kingdom's largest philanthropic foundations, having distributed over 200 million pounds to human rights organizations in the last decade. She is the heiress and granddaughter of Ruben Rausing, the founder of the Tetra Pak company, and plays chess every day.

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As a reminder to the readers and listeners, the format of the show is this: On the radio they play a quick rapid game during which Lawson interviews his guest on both chess and other matters. In the first season only one of the personalities was actually a chess player, Hou Yifan, while the others were all noted figures in their fields and all are chess aficionados. The shows are edited, and also bring in GM Daniel King to the commentary booth as he provides a little insight on the flow of the game and his feel for the position.

Sigrid Rausing
October 29 - 12:04 PM
Hailing from Lund, Sweden, Sigrid Rausing was educated in Great Britian where she resides, and is one of Britain's leading philanthropists. She plays chess daily with her husband.

The name Tetra Pak should ring a bell, to put it mildly, and it is almost ironic we take for granted something that permeates the modern world absolutely everywhere. You know those brick shaped milk cartons that store milk for as much as two months without spoiling or requiring refrigeration? Those same boxes are also miniaturized to store all sorts of goodies such as chocolate milk for the kids, and more. That is the Tetra Brik Aseptic, one of the truly revolutionary products of the second half of the 20th century, introduced onto the market in 1969.

This globally common box is the brainchild of Tetra Pak (source: Tetra Pak Flickr account)

School children in Indonesia drinking milk from the Tetra Brik (source: Tetra Pak Flickr account)

Sigrid Rausing is more than an heiress though, and pursued a PhD in anthropology, having spent a year in Estonia working on a collective farm there as field research for her doctoral thesis, and also founded Granta magazine and Granta book publisher, focused on the stated aim of literary integrity before commerciality.

Dominic Lawson - So Sigrid, I gather that you play chess every day with your husband, the Academy Award winning film producer, Eric Abraham. Is that right?

Sigrid Rausing - Yes, and I don't really play with anyone other than that. We obsessively play chess over lunch, over dinner, whenever we're together.

And who wins?

Well, this is my favorite thing about chess. It's that it doesn't matter what level you're at, what matters is that your opponent is exactly the same level, and so we are exactly the same level. So we win half the time each.

Your book, "Everything is Wonderful", which is about your time spent as a year on the formerly Soviet collective farms in Estonia after the Soviet Union collapsed, is the story of immense hardship, and you shared in that life of squalor. Did that affect your view about the nature of wealth and money, being in self-imposed squalor?

Soviet collective farm in 1933 (source: Wikipedia)

Well, you know, people always say that when they ask me about the book, but of course, my peer group as it were, with other PhD students in the anthropology department, were going off to do things like spend two years in the mud hut in the Ethiopian highlands. A collective farm in Estonia was not by any means a particularly harsh field work experience.

Dominic Lawson vs Sigrid Rausing

[Event "BBC Radio 4 - Across the Board"] [Site "?"] [Date "2014.10.29"] [Round "?"] [White "Lawson, Dominic"] [Black "Rausing, Sigrid"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C41"] [PlyCount "71"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] 1. Nf3 d6 2. e4 e5 3. d4 Bg4 4. dxe5 dxe5 5. Qxd8+ Kxd8 6. Nxe5 Be6 7. f4 Nf6 8. Bd3 Nc6 9. Nxc6+ bxc6 10. Nd2 Bd6 11. e5 Bb4 12. exf6 gxf6 13. c3 Bd6 14. Ne4 Bf5 15. Nxd6 Bxd3 16. Nxf7+ Ke7 17. Nxh8 Rxh8 18. Be3 Re8 19. O-O-O Rd8 20. Rhe1 Kf7 21. Bc5 Rd5 22. b4 Bc4 23. Rxd5 Bxd5 24. f5 Kg7 25. Bxa7 Bxg2 26. Rg1 Kf7 27. Rxg2 h5 28. Bc5 h4 29. a4 h3 30. Rg6 Ke8 31. a5 Kd8 32. a6 Kc8 33. a7 Kb7 34. Rg8 Ka6 35. c4 Kb7 36. a8=Q# 1-0

Although Mrs. Rausing is visibly outmatched by Dominic Lawson, the host graciously comments "but you lost it in more moves than I did against the World Chess Champion."

The shows can be listened to live, or later at the website

To listen to the full broadcast, visit the BBC Radio 4 website where all episodes are archived.

Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications, and the content creator of the YouTube channel, Chess & Tech.


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