Daniil Dubov Works with Magnus Carlsen and Causes Uproar

Daniil Dubov

Chess talent Daniil Dubov is from Russia. In the recent World Chess Championship, the reigning champion, Magnus Carlsen, played challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi. Nepo, as he is generally called, is from Russia while Carlsen is from Norway.

After the match concluded, with Carlsen’s fourth title defense and fifth overall championship, the champ revealed his team which included Daniil Dubov. One of Nepo’s seconds, as they are called, Sergey Karjakin complained that Daniil Dubov somehow betrayed Mother Russia by working with a Norwegian against a Russian.

Several Russian chess officials agree with Karjakin and made it clear they consider Daniil Dubov somehow a traitor to Russian chess and his future on the National Team is now in some jeopardy.

It’s a Contract

Daniil Dubov initially worked with Carlsen during the previous championship match against Fabiano Caruana. He contracted with Carlsen to continue working through this cycle even before Nepo won the Candidates tournament.

This leads me to my first, although least vehement, argument against forcing Dubov to change over to the Nepo team or at least leave Carlsen’s. A contract was signed. It is far worse, in my opinion, for Dubov to break the contract or ask Carlsen to void it than to honor it. Dubov clearly enjoys a good working relationship with Carlsen and for the champ to pay Dubov to continue their work together is high praise indeed. An honor.

Individualism is more important than Nationalism

Frankly, this out-of-control nationalism, my country first business, is incredibly dangerous to the world. I’m against it almost always. We are not nations. Nor are we religions. We are not a race, a creed, a color. We are individuals. I am Tom Liberman first. I identify with my family, my city of St. Louis, my state of Missouri, my country of the United States, my community of Role-Playing Game enthusiasts, but I am first me. An individual.

Daniil Dubov gets to choose with whom he works and those who criticize this choice do so not out of so-called nationalism but raw intimidation. They hope to coerce Daniil Dubov into doing their bidding by appealing to his nationalism. Daniil Dubov stands up tall, well, not really all that tall, no offense, Daniil, I’m height-challenged as well.

He stands up for his desire to work with Carlsen and understands it does not in reflect, in any way, on his patriotism or love for Russia. Good for you, brother!

What’s best for Daniil Dubov

My last argument is the one that strikes directly to why this story angers me so much. He must do what is best for Daniil Dubov. Working closely with the World Champion, arguably the greatest chess player in the history of the game, is objectively good for Daniil Dubov.

There is no question Daniil Dubov is a potential World Champion himself. He plays a creative game with flair and style but must learn discipline and caution in order to achieve this goal. Working with Magnus Carlsen is clearly the best way for him to improve his own game.


I found myself heartily encouraged by the comments sections in various stories about this issue. A rarity. It seems most people, many Russians included, side with Daniil Dubov. They think he is correct to work with whom he pleases and it in no way defines his patriotism.

The general tenor of the comments is that Russian officials are foolish if they ban him from the National Team but if they do, it’s their loss.

Daniil Dubov, you have a fan in me.

Tom Liberman

North Macedonia and the Libertarian Fight Against Nationalism


An absolutely fascinating situation regarding Nationalism played out recently in that the Republic of Macedonia hoped to join the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. They were blocked in these efforts by Greece. Why? Largely because of tribal Nationalism. Let me explain.

The reason for the refusal was the people in Greece think of Macedonia with pride in regards to Alexander the Great and a province in Greece is named Macedonia. The Greeks regard this as part of their heritage and are extremely proud of it. Many of the people of the Republic of Macedonia feel the same way. In order to get into the EU and NATO the legislature of the Republic of Macedonia agreed to change the name of their nation to the Republic of North Macedonia. This change was a matter of great controversy and many people are extremely upset.

The point of Libertarians is largely that it doesn’t matter what you call something. The individual is greater than the state. As a writer I’m aware of the power of words. I’m not here to say it doesn’t make any difference to the pride of the people of both Greece and the Republic of Macedonia. I’m just saying the name we choose to call something makes no difference. I’m proud that I’m from Missouri. From a municipality called University City. That I went to the University of Idaho. That being said, the names of those places have nothing to do with my pride.

I’m proud to have played Water Polo, Swimming, Soccer, and Tennis at University City with a bunch of the best guys in the world. I wasn’t the most social fellow in the world and it wasn’t all good times, almost exclusively my own fault, but those guys, those times, that’s what gives me pride. The idea of a name change is relatable to me. When I played sports at University City, we were the Indians. The awards I earned, to be found somewhere around here, bear that logo.

Long after I graduated, the school board changed the mascot from Indians to Lions. There was the usual attempt to prevent the change but the name alteration went through and now we are the Lions. Does that change any of my memories? Does that change the good times I had with all those great friends? Does that change the victories or the defeats? The simple answer is no, it doesn’t.

Alexander the Great and Macedonia remain as they were regardless of what a nation calls itself today. People are who they are, regardless of the circumstances of their birth or their current living conditions.

I’m not telling you to stop being proud of who you are or to forget your heritage. I am saying the name you choose to call something is irrelevant. It changes nothing. What is past is irrevocable. The Greeks were wrong to deny the Republic of Macedonia entrance into the EU and NATO because of a name. The people of the Republic of Macedonia were wrong to care so much about changing the name.

It just doesn’t matter. The state is merely a name, a circumstance of birth, a way to communicate information. It means nothing and hopefully, someday, all nations will dissolve.

The individual is paramount. You are not a name, a place of birth, a high school, or a college.

Tom Liberman

Carlsen versus Caruana and the Slow Death of Nationalism

nationalismThe death of nationalism is on display for the next few weeks at the World Chess Championship being held in London at the College in Holburn between reigning champion Magnus Carlsen from Norway and challenger Fabiano Caruana from the United States, by way of Italy. In past eras I, and most other people from the United States, would certainly be rooting for Caruana because of his nationality. In today’s world, the nation someone is from is becoming less and less important, thanks to globalization brought by the internet.

Let’s put this in perspective. The last time someone from the United States played for the World Chess Championship was in 1972 when Bobby Fischer challenged Boris Spassky. The pride of the United States was at stake and nationalism was running rampant. Everyone I knew was rooting for Fischer, this despite the readily apparent evidence that he was a complete and total jerk. Spassky, on the other hand, was a man to be admired for many reasons.

Nationalism is a big topic these days but many young people just don’t pay attention to that sort of thing anymore. They know Carlsen because of his internet presence. They are fans of his because of this. His nation of origin is still of some importance to a number of people but that bias is slowly fading.

Certainly, many people in the United States are hoping Caruana wins just as many in Norway are rooting for Carlsen to retain his crown. However, because we’ve gotten to know the two through their internet presence, the circumstance of their birth is of diminished importance. We will continue to see this trend until there are no more nations at all, just people doing things they enjoy with others who enjoy the same thing, chess for example.

I happen to live in the fashionable Central West End of St. Louis where the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis is located. I’ve actually run into Caruana on several occasions while out and about. He seems quite a decent sort. Many people are cheering him on because of his genial nature. Others prefer Carlsen for the fighting spirit he has exhibited throughout his entire chess career. He is prudent but goes for the win rather than taking the easy draw. Carlsen has set a precedent many of the upcoming chess players eagerly follow which makes chess a better sport.

Nationalism isn’t going away tomorrow or next week but it’s going away. That frightens a particular group of people who identify their self with the country in which they happen to live. That’s a shame. The good news is; more and more people don’t really care where you were born or live, just that you play a style of chess they enjoy watching.

As for me? I won’t be disappointed if Caruana wins but I’d like to see Carlsen continue on as champion for as long as possible. He’s been a tremendous standard bearer for the new era of the game. Carlsen’s time will come eventually, maybe even in the next couple of weeks.

Tom Liberman