Chess is one of the oldest games known to humanity and has been around for more than 1400 years. One could say that the 64 tiles and 32 pieces represent our lives better than any other game on this planet. The pain of realizing you’ve made a wrong move, the joy of seeing your long-planned strategy being rewarded in your opponent’s failure to cope, sacrificing for the greater good, exchanging qualities to stay in the game. Through the years, technology evolved around the game and dramatically changed its dynamics. Most of you probably heard about the historical match between Gary Kasparov and Deep Blue, the first chess computer ever to beat a grandmaster in 1996.
The keyword is community.
Since then, software has played a major role in the game, as it made game analysis easier and more accessible. This moved a new generation of players in the spotlight like Magnus Carlsen, Fabiano Caruana, or Jan Nepomnjaschtschi, who use engines like Stockfish or Alpha Zero to constantly improve their game. During covid, chess became extremely popular among non-professionals as well. Platforms like lichess.org or chess.com, where you can play online against players from all over the world, saw a massive influx to their community with over 25 million games played every day.
In December 2022 FIDE, the governing body of the sport of chess, has struck a partnership with Ava Labs from Avalanche to introduce chess into the Web3 space. When I first stumbled over the news, I asked myself what there could possibly be in chess that would make sense to bring it to a blockchain.
Is this just another effort to be part of the hype around blockchain, or something that could be of real use to the world? We have seen the phenomenon of upgrading running systems by bringing them to the chain for quite some time now, no matter if it makes sense or not. There’s Beer-NFTs, on-chain calendar tools, tokenized real-estate, proof-of-ownership for cars, yachts, artwork, even sneakers that aren’t even physically yours. Yes, some of that might be a classic example of over-engineering, but it still proves a critical point: Blockchain is the most powerful tool for communities there is. I like the chess example so much because it shows how it actually doesn’t matter what real-world thing you bring to the chain – what matters is that there’s a community for it willing to contribute. It’s human nature to want to be part of something. It’s not only the game of chess that proves our point here. We see fashion brands like Prada and Gucci joining the space, automakers like BMW using NFTs as “track-records” for their used-cars market, and many more examples. Even musicians like Peter Gabriel think about Web3 concepts to bring their fans closer together. If there’s something you’re excited about, you want to share your enthusiasm with others, right?
Transparent, secure, democratic!
For the first time, we have the technological possibility to display this fairly and transparent. What started with bitcoin as a vehicle to potentially disrupt the financial world became a tool that allows communities to collaborate, communicate, and make decision in a secure, transparent, and fair way. To this day, many people still think of blockchain as a technology for sending money or staking coins. We tend to differ because there’s way more to it. Finance is just an ingredient to the bigger picture, and the bigger picture being the Web3 space as a whole. The most important ingredient of them all though, are the many communities all over the world – their ideas, visions, and wishes for a better digital future. A key part of 1iO’s mission is to bring people closer together. We believe that an ecosystem that is DAO-driven is the next step on our way to that future. Every community needs rules and guidelines to flourish its potential. In the Web of today, governance is exercised by only a few. We believe it’s time to bring power to the users.
Only a community that is enabled to sustain itself and make decisions collaboratively and democratically is able to selflessly serve its users (which should be its very purpose). It's still a long way to go from here, but the many projects, brands and empowering visions show that we’re on the right track.