'This is bulls**t': Chess at centre of stunning 'racism' debate

A player is pictured moving a chess piece during the 2020 FIDE Women's World Chess Championship .
Debate has broken out as to whether it's ethical for the white pieces to move first in chess, before the black pieces. (Photo by Yuri Smityuk\TASS via Getty Images)

The ABC has come under fire from an irate former Australian chess representative who was contacted to discuss whether the rules of chess could be seen as racially insensitive.

John Adams, a economist and chess enthusiast, posted on Twitter that he had been contacted by a Sydney-based ABC producer asking whether he would like to discuss the rules of chess and whether it was insensitive for the player with the white pieces to make the first move.

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“The ABC have taken the view that chess is RACIST given that white always go first!” Adams posted.

“They are seeking comment from a chess official as to whether the rules of chess need to be altered!

“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!”

The Daily Telegraph later confirmed with the ABC that presenter James Valentine would be hosting the segment during his afternoon show on Wednesday.

Adams was heavily critical of the ABC for doing the segment, suggesting their time, and that of their listeners, was better spent elsewhere.

“The response to the tweet showed that common sense is prevailing,” he said.

“People want the national broadcaster to focus on bigger issues. People are struggling with the economy, with their health, with the lockdown.

“They don’t want their money wasted on bullsh*t.”

Chess expert critical of debate

The newspaper later contacted chess expert Kevin Bonham, who will be appearing on the yet-to-air segment on Wednesday afternoon.

He said the tactical nature of chess was why the white pieces moved first, but later posted on Twitter that the issue was ‘the silliest culture war ever’.

“There are complex patterns that require white to move first,” he said.

“At the casual and club level, it does not matter which colour starts the game.”

He later said on Twitter that his quote about it not mattering which piece went first at lower levels was slightly out of context, as he had been asked whether the first move was an advantage.

Bonham later also criticised Sky News for including the furore in a segment criticising ‘cancel culture’, pointing out that the station’s hosts were suggesting the interview be cancelled before it aired.