Mr. Facebook vs the World Champion

by Albert Silver
1/16/2014 – It was a bit of startling news to read that Mark Zuckerberg had booked a face-to-face with Magnus Carlsen. Indeed, the founder of the greatest social network of our time sought out the World Champion for a lesson in the royal game, but the timing is what makes one wonder. Zuckerberg is famous for setting himself yearly challenges: Could this be his 2014 resolution?

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The news item is perfect for the papers and a bit of well-timed publicity: Mark Zuckerberg has a private chess class with… Magnus Carlsen. It was published on the world champion's personal Facebook page with the comment, "Teaching Mark Zuckerberg some chess. Incredibly quick learner, glad he is at Facebook!"

The news was quickly picked up by local Norwegian media Nettavisen

Mark Elliot Zuckerberg is an American computer programmer and internet entrepreneur. He is best known as one of five co-founders of the social networking website Facebook. As of April 2013, Zuckerberg is the chairman and chief executive of Facebook, Inc. and in September 2013 his personal wealth was estimated to be US$19 billion. (source: Wikipedia)

Mark Zuckerberg is the founding father of Facebook and was
the subject of the Oscar-winning film "Social Network"

It bears mentioning that the timing of this episode is certainly suggestive, taking place in the very beginning of 2014, and may not be just a coincidence: Mark Zuckerberg is famous for setting himself challenges each year with far more verve than the usual ‘New Year’s resolutions’ most of us swear over glasses of champagne and fireworks, and are safely forgotten by February.

With Facebook shares taking off, and well over a billion users, what's not to smile about?

In a recent article at CNN, he was described as approaching self-improvement like a software engineer. Every year, the Facebook CEO sets some sort of challenge for himself. In 2009, he vowed to wear a tie to work every day to show he was serious about Facebook's growth. In 2010, he tried to learn Mandarin. While learning Mandarin, he had Mandarin-speaking Facebook employees come to his office for conversation practice. The tech wunderkind said the annual challenges are also meant to test his willpower. "I think a lot of building something is just about kind of seeing things through. And so I try to pick things that are going to be hard for me to do," he said.

An interesting article on Mark Zuckerberg's singularly challenging New Year's resolutions

Does this mean that Zuckerberg’s newest challenge is to become a chess expert? Who can say? One thing is certain, it can’t hurt to have one of the wealthiest and most influential tech leaders in the world become a chess aficionado.

Mark Zuckerberg has a chess class with Magnus Carlsen (picture @Facebook)

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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