World Chess CEO Ilya Merenzon talks about the project and partnership with Free TON.
Interviewer – Polina Vishnevskaya.
• Hello, Ilya. Tell us why you decided to work on the World Chess project?
• Chess is something that I have been fond of for a very long time and it seems to me that this game is a kind of opportunity. There are few sports left in the world, except drone racing, that can be considered startups. When we started, we thought that chess was an incredibly interesting startup with many opportunities.
• Tell us about World Chess activities. Perhaps you can share the numbers on how many users are involved in your project.
• World Chess is the organizer of major chess events up to the World Championship. We are now in the process of conducting part of the World Championship cycle. We also manage the official gaming platform FIDE. Our users are those who play chess, as well as those who watch chess games. We now have about half a million registered users. Their number is growing daily. And we communicate with them when we organize large events.
• How did you find out about Free TON and how did you come to the partnership?
• I know those who, one way or another, were at the beginning of Free TON. The project is somewhat hipster with an attractive goal (one of them) – to simplify complex technologies. This suits chess very well.
• How often do you host World Chess events and do you plan to use Free TON for them?
• We have ideas for using Free TON. But at this stage we are exploring the platform’s capabilities.
Regarding events – yes, we hold them very often. During a pandemic – a little less often. In general, we have several very high level annual events in different cities and countries. The latter is in Jerusalem, and before that it was in Hamburg and London.
• Could you share ideas for using Free TON?
• I would not like to do this yet. Let me put it this way: we are looking for ways to combine the Free TON and sports ecosystems. And not only chess, but intellectual professional games in general. We have such far-reaching plans that I do not dare to voice them yet.
One of the important functions reserved for Free TON is Governance in the context of organizing sports clubs, federations, and so on. I repeat once again – this applies not so much to chess as to sports in general. It would be great to integrate mind sports into one ecosystem to provide services that the sports ecosystem does not yet have – from prizes to betting.
• On the World Chess website, Mercedes, Russian Post, and Kaspersky Lab are listed among the partners. Do you plan to interact with them within Free TON?
• We can say that we will introduce everyone to everyone at the chessboard. What will happen as a result, we do not yet know. I believe that the task of all community members is to find their audience, users and clients. I’m sure something will happen, but so far these are just ideas.
• Share your opinion on the prospects for Free TON without Durov and Telegram.
• Hope they are very good. I am a little familiar with some of the Free TON team members and they are adventurous – in a good way. At the same time, I understand the importance of Telegram participation. Since this system is to some extent native, I see that a large number of actions are associated with Telegram. Therefore, I hope that at some point the collaboration will become closer. And this will become an additional positive factor in attracting a huge number of people.
• Have you invested in Durov’s Gram or TON?
• No, but I know many who did it. I didn’t have such an opportunity, because, to be honest, I didn’t know about it “before everything happened”. I’m also not a very gambling person, so I stay away from this kind of investment, but at the same time I watch with interest how events develop.
• Do you think Durov could have launched Free TON?
• I am sure that he could have launched, and may still be somehow involved at some stage.
• What is your opinion on the prospects for cryptocurrencies in the next 5-10 years?
• I have very mixed feelings about this. I am interested in this topic. My opinion is based on what I have already studied.
I believe that convergence will soon occur, a kind of merger of major players in the fiat market and the cryptocurrency market. It cannot be denied that there are significant benefits of this technology, if we talk about its financial part. Most likely, some kind of sudden implementation will happen, this is already starting to happen.
Every day tens of thousands of people around the world are trying to invent new functionality for blockchain technology. The question is, which technology will be chosen? Most likely, there will be no answer until a dozen major players and the same number of currencies appear.
• Do you have cryptocurrency savings?
• Our company holds some funds in Algorand, TON Crystal and Bitcoin currencies. But I am not. Although, I probably should.
• If you decide to do this, which cryptocurrencies should you choose?
• I would choose less volatile ones. But since they are all more or less volatile, you need to have enough adventurism and set some goals. For example, if I planned to buy an apartment or something else for bitcoins, then I would keep it in bitcoins. Or if I paid rent in algorandas, then I would have algorandas, or if I paid for T-shirts in TON Crystals, then Crystals. I would keep the cryptocurrency in terms of utility, in terms of long-term investment. I am probably the most conservative person you will ever meet on this issue.
• Thank you for your time. Hope the World Chess and Free TON partnership will progress.
• It’s mutual. All the best.
The interview was prepared based on the podcast materials.