The Financial Times announced, 2022-08-29: Chess.com bids for Play Magnus, a move towards monopoly? (ft.com; Leonard Barden) 'A merger between two of the largest major chess sites is imminent following the announcement that the US-backed chess.com is bidding for playmagnusgroup.com, the company named after world champion Magnus Carlsen. The offer, which values PMG at around $82m, has been accepted and will take around two months to complete.' Since that story is worth a separate post, I'll look at it in more depth elsewhere.
'Elsewhere' turns out to be here on the World Chess Championship Blog. Why this blog? The ft.com/Barden story made a further point:-
Whether the merger will work in the longer term remains an open question. Optimists paint a golden future where Carlsen competes regularly against his old rival Nakamura, but the pessimistic view is that the No.1, who has already announced his retirement from the world title, is taking a step towards further reducing his commitments.
Reading between the lines, I understand that to say there's a possible connection between World Champion Carlsen's decision to exit from the World Championship followed shortly by the sale of his 'Play Magnus' company. Carlsen's initial decision, after he had wavered for months, was finalized in July:-
- 2022-07-22: Magnus Carlsen Will Not Defend World Championship Title (chess.com; Peter Doggers)
- 2022-07-22: Carlsen's Abdication: Reactions From The Chess World (ditto)
The acquisition by Chess.com of Play Magnus was announced a month later:-
The Board unanimously recommends an offer from Chess.com to acquire all shares of Play Magnus Group
'The Board of Play Magnus AS today announces an offer from Chess Growthco LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chess.com to acquire 100 percent of the shares of Play
Magnus Group at an offer price of NOK 13.00 per share.'
Chess.com Makes Offer To Play Magnus Group
(chess.com w/ video)
'Chess.com is excited to announce that we have submitted an offer for Play Magnus Group (PMG) to join Chess.com. Magnus Carlsen and the management at Play Magnus are enthusiastic and have accepted the offer. We expect that it will take about 6-8 weeks for this process to finalize. Until that time, Chess.com and Play Magnus will remain independent companies.'
- 2022-08-24: Play Magnus Group receives Chess.com offer (chess24.com) 'Play Magnus Group (PMG), that includes chess24, has received an offer from Chess.com that may see the two companies join forces. The offer values PMG at around $82.5 million and will take around two months to finalise, subject to shareholder approval and other closing conditions. Magnus Carlsen commented, "now we are entering a new era, and the combination of these two companies creates opportunities for the game of chess that no-one has imagined before".'
Those last two links, from Chess.com and Chess24.com, have dozens of comments from supporters (and detractors) of both sites regarding the consequences of the takeover. For a previous post about the acquisition by PMG of Chess24, see Carlsen's TMER 2019-21, Chess24 (November 2021; '2019-03-15: Chess24 and Play Magnus join forces [chess24.com; Colin McGourty]') on my main blog. I have the feeling that I'll likely be switching between that blog and this blog to cover the evolving story.