Chess Team’s Gambit To Save the Environment

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RingCentral’s newly formed chess team is taking part in the first FIDE online world corporate chess championship. Starting today, 284 teams from 78 different countries will compete virtually. This totals an incredible 1,467 players.

The International Chess Federation and will be hosting the event. Companies in industries from finance to tech will join forces to showcase the importance of chess. Magnus Carlsen, the current world chess champion, will be playing alongside three others for Kindred.

Like many other corporate teams, RingCentral does not have a grandmaster involved. But that’s not to say we don’t have plenty of talent taking to the boards. Ben Purton is captain; he will be playing alongside Gregory Yaschuk, Yana Yurkovskaya, Mahalia Lea Otic, Garen Aroutjunov and Sander Zaydman.

The passion behind the sport 

Chess is a tool that challenges people, but is also a great equaliser. It’s a sport that helps children reach their full potential, regardless of their background.

Each RingCentral player has their own story to tell about why they started playing chess and what motivated them to join the team, and we’re looking forward to hearing from everyone ahead of future tournaments. To kick-off, I caught up with Ben to find out more about his passion for the sport, “It all goes back to when I was eight years old. I wasn’t a naturally talented player at the start and worked hard at it over the years until I won the UK title at the British U18 championships in 2004 – at the age of 17. I’ve continued to play throughout the years and now captain a professional team, the Grantham Sharks.”

Ben went on to explain his strategy for the tournament and how team players have been busy preparing. He then told us about the incredible support from RingCentral’s CIO, Kira Makagon, and enablement leader, Sheevaun Thatcher.

Kira is a talented chess player and has a lot to say about its benefits. During her childhood, it was one of the sports that reinforced her perspective that people should be recognised for their skills alone, and gender should not hold anyone back.

After speaking to Ben, something that stuck with me was the efforts that FIDE and the individual teams have made to include multiple genders. FIDE addressed gender representation when announcing the event.

Bringing teams worldwide together

Now let’s get into some logistics. The team will use the platform to play from their remote locations on Friday and Saturday. For some people (like myself) who don’t know much about the sport, the idea of play chess online may seem alien, but the streaming chess community has been around for some time now. This isn’t the first time RingCentral has taken part in an online event. Last year, Ben Purton played three-time British champion David Howell to raise funds for University Hospitals Birmingham Charity using RingCentral Video. You can see how it all looks on a platform here:

Chess Birmingham-653

You can tune in and watch the competition unfold between the hundreds of businesses taking part – including some of the world’s largest tech companies.

Part of the reason why uptake has been so popular is because of the circumstances we find ourselves in right now. The pandemic has shifted the way we connect, but also the way we run events. This is a chance for some friendly competition, as well as an opportunity to encourage collaboration between employees and comradery across organisations internationally. On top of this, companies will use the event to raise funds for various causes. The RingCentral team is supporting the World Land Trust, a global conversation charity that works hard to protect threatened habitats.

If you would like to support the team, there are three ways you can do this:

1) Send a supportive message to those involved
2) Donate to help fight climate change
3) Support chess projects for the most vulnerable

Wishing the whole team good luck for their first tournament! If your business is taking part in any tournaments (chess or other) then leave us a comment – we’re always interested in seeing what other organisations are doing to keep connected and raise awareness of their chosen charities.

Originally published Feb 19, 2021


Samantha is RingCentral’s Content Manager for EMEA Marketing. Before joining the business, she worked in content and public relations roles. She has worked with companies in ed tech, marketing and advertising, connected home, telecoms and publishing.

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