Fashion giant Louis Vuitton knows a thing or two about marketing, so when it commissioned a photo of soccer greats Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi playing chess, the picture was bound to go viral.
Renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz shot the two soccer legends studying a position on a Vuitton checkerboard attaché case and it was released just before the World Cup began. With Ronaldo’s 500 million Instagram followers, and Messi’s 380 million, the post echoed around the world.
But for chess fans, it was the position on the board that mattered most.
It didn’t take long to discover that the position was a real one, taken from a game between world champion Magnus Carlsen and American Hikaru Nakamura. The 2017 encounter in Norway ended in a draw.
“I was wondering why this position looked familiar!” tweeted Nakamura.
As for the world chess champion, he took the opportunity to rank the respective competitive aspects of the two games. “Second greatest rivalry of our time mimicking the greatest,” Carlsen wryly tweeted.
The comparison between professional soccer and chess isn’t far-fetched. One of Carlsen’s coaches, grandmaster Simen Agdestein, is a former Norwegian pro soccer player. And Carlsen himself is one of the world’s top fantasy football players.