28 April 2022

Yahoos of War and NFTs

Last months post on chess news in the mainstream press, Yahoos of Resilience (March 2022), was mostly about the war started by Russia in Ukraine. The theme continued in April, the second full month of war, but first let's have the facts about the so-called Yahoos' pool of stories for the month.

For our April end-month search, Google News returned 99 stories. Of those, 85 were dated April; the others dated from previous months.

The chart on the left shows six news sources returning two or more stories. Since the six sources accounted for 35 stories, there were 50 other sources with only a single story.

While the stories on the Russia - Ukraine war were less numerous than in the previous month, they were nevertheless compelling. The first story that attracted my attention was:-

  • 2022-04-24: Chess.com Banned By Russia (chess.com) • 'Yesterday, Chess.com was banned by the Russian government agency Roscomnadzor, the "Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media." Roscomnadzor is responsible for censorship within Russia, a busy occupation these days. Since the start of Russia's war against Ukraine on February 24th, Roscomnadzor has banned hundreds of sites including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google News, BBC News, NPR, and Amnesty International.'

The second story attracting my attention was about 'the only non-Russian to be targeted by the American authorities'. What could that possibly have to do with chess? Read on:-

  • 2022-04-23: War in Ukraine: Joel Lautier, the French chess star on the US sanctions list (france24.com) • 'French chess star and businessman Joel Lautier was added to the list of people targeted by US sanctions over the war in Ukraine back in March, French business daily Les Echos reported on Wednesday, the only non-Russian to be targeted by the American authorities. [...] Ironically, Lautier was put on the US sanctions list on the same day as Anatoly Karpov, the former world chess champion who became a Russian MP and voted for the war in Ukraine.'

Twenty years ago, GM Lautier was better known in the chess world than he is today. In its 'stub' page Joel Lautier (wikipedia.org), Wikipedia sums up his chess career as follows:-

Born in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada in 1973, Lautier first major success came in 1986, when he won the World Under-14 Championship. He earned his international master title in 1988, also winning the World Junior Chess Championship that year. He was awarded his grandmaster title in 1990. He won the French Chess Championships in 2004 and 2005. [...] Lautier is one of the founders of the Association of Chess Professionals [ACP], and served as its president from 2004 to 2005. He was a second to Vladimir Kramnik in the Classical World Chess Championship 2000 against Garry Kasparov.

Of the many other non-war chess stories worth mentioning, one received coverage in three disparate sources:-

That third story, from Cointelegraph.com, outlined the technical details:-

Wyre, a fiat-to-crypto and payment infrastructure firm, partnered up with the online chess community Chess.com to launch a new NFT marketplace called Treasure Chess. The platform allows users to turn a chess game played on treasure.chess.com into a Treasure NFT. Users can then purchase, sell, mint and collect their "Treasures" on the layer-2 blockchain, Polygon.

Although NFTs specific to chess have been seen before in the chess world, the involvement of Chess.com adds weight to their importance. Is this the stuff of fad or future? We'll find out soon enough.

[Yahoos (mainstream news stories about chess) are derived from Google News top-100 (or so) stories from the past month.]

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