Chess grandmasters break the rules to call attention to racial discrimination

Magnus Carlsen and Anish Giri play a match where black can make the first move

Published On
Mar 22, 2019

Editor's Pick

Rules are made to be broken.

In modern chess, white always goes first, which gives that player an advantage over their opponent, who plays black. But chess grandmaster and four-time chess world champion Magnus Carlsen is flipping the board for the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Along with fellow grandmaster Anish Giri, the pair are breaking the game’s first rule and letting black make the first move, to symbolize how color shouldn’t determine who gets a leg up. Carlsen and Giri played a game, with Carlsen moving a black pawn first, and are encouraging others to do the same through Carlsen’s chess app company Play Magnus. For one day, players can choose which side goes first.

The campaign from BBDO Düsseldorf was created for ICCAR, UNESCO’s International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities. In addition to a short film running on social media at the campaign hub,, the game site is also hosting a “Banter Blitz Marathon” where grandmasters play against amateurs who play black first.


Mar 22, 2019
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