Carlsen and Giri campaign for racial equality

by Macauley Peterson
3/21/2019 – "Breaking a rule in chess to change behavior in life." World Champion Magnus Carlsen and GM Anish Giri team up in a social campaign dubbed "Move for Equality" in honour of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The pair shot a brief video in Oslo on Tuesday for the promotion.

Master Class Vol.8: Magnus Carlsen Master Class Vol.8: Magnus Carlsen

Scarcely any world champion has managed to captivate chess lovers to the extent Carlsen has. The enormously talented Norwegian hasn't been systematically trained within the structures of a major chess-playing nation such as Russia, the Ukraine or China.


"Talent is universal, but not"

Magnus Carlsen and Anish Giri are not necessarily the pair you would imagine joining forces for any campaign. They've been known to feud on Twitter, and are more often poking fun at each other away from the board than finding common ground on an important social cause. But this week they came together in Oslo to kick off a promotional campaign with the hashtag #MoveForEquality and ending racial discrimination as its raison d'être.

Carlsen teased the campaign yesterday in a 16-second video, square, like a chessboard:

And today the campaign released the full version on Carlsen's Facebook page:

Official site:

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which was initiated in 1966, "is an opportunity for people around the world to renew their commitment to making our world a place of justice and dignity, where all races are treated equally."

As a historical aside, it wasn't a "rule" as such for White to move first until the late-19th century. Prior to that it was common to refer to the "first player" and "second player" but which colour pieces the first player actually used were a matter of choice, and became a convention first in publishing games, and eventually in playing games as well. For instance, according to contemporaneous sources the 'immortal game' of Adolf Anderssen actually had Anderssen, the 'first player' blacking with Black.

In a clever, toungue-in-cheek response, Carlsen and Giri's chief seconds, Peter Heine Nielsen and Erwin l'Ami respectively, shared their own views on equality: 

The campaign was created with support of UNESCO’s International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities (ICCAR).

"We cannot change the rules of chess permanently, but we flipped the board for one game to
use chess to bring a new perspective to the discussion about equality," says Carlsen.


Macauley served as the Editor in Chief of ChessBase News from July 2017 to March 2020. He is the producer of The Full English Breakfast chess podcast, and was an Associate Producer of the 2016 feature documentary, Magnus.


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