Jimmy Wales, the co-founder of Wikipedia, made the ceremonial first move in round 5 of the World Chess Championship today and then paid tribute to the game’s “intense intellectual activity”.
The American internet entrepreneur played 1.e4 for countryman Fabiano Caruana before moving to the commentary box where he recounted an amusing tale about how false information about him playing the game got spread over the internet, and Wikipedia.
Interviewed by International Master Anna Rudolf after his appearance on stage, Wales said he was very excited about attending his first World Championship.
“I’ve been a fan of chess for a very long time,” he said. “I’m terrible at playing chess, but I’ve never actually attended a game so I’m very excited to see it.
“I mostly started to play, or started learning, when I was five or six and I played a lot when I was a kid. There was actually a funny story about chess which is about this question.
Jimmy Wales’ chess experience
“Once someone vandalised my Wikipedia entry to say that I enjoyed playing chess with friends, which they just made up out of thin air.
“It’s not really true, I don’t really play chess with friends, I like the idea of it, but…
“But then a biography magazine saw that and then they printed it so then there was a source for it, and in the Wikipedia world it can be a bit circular…
“I would say in the Wikipedia community we tend to be really geeky people and likely to be really into an intellectual hobby like chess and I think it’s really great to see how popular chess is and how popular it continues to be.
“We’re living in an era with really fluffy things going on and a lot of nonsense and so forth, so it’s nice to have a really intensely intellectual activity that still excites so many people and particularly young people.
“It’s great also that you can find out a lot about chess from different historical matches and so forth.”
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Leon is a national newspaper journalist from London, England. He is an avid chess fan, and writes regularly about the game. Apart from chess, he loves cricket, Tottenham Hotspur FC and spending time with his son.