Cryptocurrencies may have had a turbulent week, but leading chess players, including world number one Magnus Carlsen, will play for $100,000 of Bitcoin over the coming days.
Together with a $220,000 cash pot, the FTX Crypto Cup, which begins on Sunday, has the biggest prize for online chess competition in history.
Carlsen is the top name involved but will be joined by 15 of the world’s leading players, including former world title challenger Fabiano Caruana, and the man who will take on the Norwegian next, Ian Nepomniachtchi.
Bitcoin was trading at nearly $60,000 at the start of May, plunged to below $35,000 this week but had recovered slightly on Friday to around $40,000.
Hong Kong-based Sam Bankman-Fried, Chief Executive of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, admitted that the short-term outlook for the cryptocurrency was uncertain, but that longer-term it would become more established among mainstream financial institutions.
“I will say that there are certainly reasons to be optimistic, and one thing that I’ll say is we’ve had conversations with a lot of major banks and other financial players over the last year, and one really, a really consistent theme has been all of them saying ‘well six months ago, we had a mandate basically never to touch crypto, and now we have a mandate that we have to figure out how to do something in crypto over the next two months.”
”And you know, I don’t think they know what, or exactly what, you know how it’s going to happen yet, and so there’s still a lot of room left to grow that.”
Meanwhile, Dutch number one Anish Giri, who will be part of the lineup at the FTX Crypto Cup, said interest in cryptocurrency among chess professionals was high and welcomed the move to offer Bitcoin as prize money even if he couldn’t be sure what it would be worth by the end of the tournament.
“It’s like playing with the house money right?” he said. “You’re getting it for pretty much for nothing, it’s also a bonus added to the prize fund.”