Top chess personalities slam ABC for questioning if chess is 'racist'

After dismissing the request to speak on the radio show, Adams took to Twitter to voice his opinions.

Men wear protective face masks and gloves, amid fear of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), play chess on the sidewalk of Mellat Park, in Tehran, Iran (photo credit: REUTERS)
Men wear protective face masks and gloves, amid fear of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), play chess on the sidewalk of Mellat Park, in Tehran, Iran
(photo credit: REUTERS)
After an Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Sydney radio station posed the question if chess is racist, because its customary for the white pieces to move first, Russian chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov and former Australian chess representative John Adams took to Twitter to slam the notion, calling it "bulls**t" and a waste of taxpayer dollars.
Adams noted that ABC contacted him to make a comment on the segment, which is intended to run Wednesday.
“They called me up and asked whether I was the John Adams involved in chess,” Adams told the Daily Telegraph. "Then they said with everything going on, they wanted to have a conversation about white going first (in chess) - and the racial context of whether white should go first. I said I’m no longer involved but I passed them along to another person.”
After dismissing the request to speak on the radio show, Adams took to Twitter to voice his opinions.
"The ABC have taken the view that chess is RACIST given that white always go first," Adams wrote on Twitter. "Trust the taxpayer funded national broadcaster to apply ideological Marxist frameworks to anything & everything in Australia!"
"With all the drama resulting from COVID-19, I am amazed that the ABC is broadcasting on irrelevant topics!"
Kasparov told those unhappy with the rule, that white pieces in chess move first, than they should pick up another game, instead of using taxpayer money to probe into the rule's origins.
"If you are worried that the game of chess is racist, please take up Go, where black moves first, instead of looking foolish by wasting taxpayer money at a state broadcaster to 'investigate,'" Kasparov said.
Adams lauded Kasparov's comment.
"Good to see former world chess champion @Kasparov63 take aim at the @ABCaustralia over their NONSENSE coverage of the game of chess," Adams responded on Twitter.
He noted that "the response to the tweet showed that common sense is prevailing" during a time when anti-racism protests are sweeping nations worldwide.
“People want the national broadcaster to focus on bigger issues. People are struggling with the economy, with their health, with the lockdown," Adams told the Telegraph. “They don’t want their money wasted on bulls**t.”
Chess expert Kevin Bonham is supposed to replace Adams as a commentator on the ABC segment Wednesday, according to local sources.
“There are complex patterns that require white to move first,” Bonham said, according to Australian news website news.com.au. “At the casual and club level, it does not matter which color starts the game. I’ve agreed to comment on this tomorrow around lunchtime.”
Two grandmasters, Magnus Carlsen of Norway and Anish Giri of the Netherlands, challenged the longstanding rule in a video posted to Carlsen's Twitter page in March 2019 as a part of the United Nations' International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
"We broke a rule in chess today," Carlsen said in the video, to which Giri added "to change minds tomorrow."
Carlsen added that "this rule was never about race or politics, but we can break it to send a message to everyone who believes that color should grant advantage in chess or in life."
"The player with the light-coloured pieces (White) makes the first move, then the players move alternately, with the player with the dark-coloured pieces (Black) making the next move," the official rule states, according to the International Chess Federation's Laws of Chess.
However, the actual rule, which dates back to the late 1800s, has not always been followed to a T by many of the games pioneers.
In the early 1800s, British player Alexander McDonnell preferred playing as black against French player Louis de La Bourdonnais, where McDonnell, even playing as black, had the first move. Separately, during the "Immortal Game" of 1851, played by Adolf Anderssen and Lionel Kieseritzky, Anderssen was playing as black but moved first - although it was later recorded from the white side, according to Chess.com.