What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos


Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers


Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge


Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more

End Chess Madness, and Stop the Killing of Russian Journalists

May 18, 2010, 5:20 PM
Chess makes for strange bed fellows.  Last night at a party at the Trump SoHo hotel in downtown Manhattan, two former world chess champions, Anatoly Karpov and Gary Kasparov, put aside their bitter rivalry—they played a record 144 games for the world title between 1984 and 1990—to try to rescue the game they love from the iron-fisted grip of a quixotic billionaire named Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. 

For the past 15 years, Ilyumzhinov has run the world chess organization (known by its French acronym FIDE, for Federation Internationale des Echecs), and Karpov, with Kasparov's backing, wants to replace him.  The two K's are intent in bringing blue-chip corporate sponsorship to chess, and they contend that Ilyumzhinov is a big obstacle.  First, they think he is a wack job: Ilyumzhinov claims that he was once abducted by yellow-robed human-like extraterrestrials who took him aboard their interplanetary spacecraft.  Then there is the terrestrial company he kept, dictators like Muammar el-Qaddafi and Saddam Hussein.  Then there are the human rights violations Ilyumzhinov has been associated with in his day job as president of Kalmykia, a barren, poverty-stricken Russian republic on the Caspian Sea.

The Trump SoHo party was the official launch of Karpov's campaign to wrest the presidency of FIDE from Ilyumzhinov.  Kasparov indicated that while he may not like Karpov ("Do the Yankees like the Red Sox?" he said), he believes that his rival can save the game of chess from "withering away under Ilyumzhinov."  The crowd of hedge-fund managers at the party apparently agreed.  To fund Karpov's campaign, they were bidding more than $10,000 to play blitz chess with Kasparov and the 19-year-old chess phenom, world No. 1 Magnus Carlsen.  "Now we know where the bailout dollars went," one pundit quipped.

Karpov came by Big Think just before the party for a long video interview.  We've interviewed poker and Rock Paper Scissors champions before, but he is our first grandmaster.  He told us why he is moving into chess politics and described the mind-set it takes to play world-class chess.  Back in the Soviet Union, Karpov was the darling of Brezhnev.  Now, in chess
for sure, he represents the face of democracy, even if he is still apparently a supporter of Putin. 

Kasparov is one of Vladimir Putin's chief detractors.  He has been attacked and imprisoned for challenging Putin's authoritarian rule.  Many journalists in Russia have fared even worse.  Today's New York Times has a disturbing article called
"It's Open Season on Journalists Near Moscow" about the many reporters who are now maimed, brain-damaged, or dead for daring to report on political corruption in Russia.


End Chess Madness, and Stop...

Newsletter: Share: