Redrafting  the community playbook together

John McRae
5 min read

G'day, my name is John McRae, and I'm one of the founders at Checkmate and of VADR. I have been involved in entertainment, media, not-for-profits and pro sports for over 20+ years as a builder and promoter. I’ve spent my life producing and promoting platforms for causes, talent, players and teams on stage, TV and online.

Starting a new project is always exciting; its a chance to rewrite the playbook, challenge the status quo, collaborate with stakeholders, apply the lessons from past but play by your own rules.  Cards on the table , I am a social chess player, but like most, I deeply admire the skill of top-level players. Just as I did when promoting fight sports and esports, both which benefited from our work hard, play hard attitude. To give our pro players comfort, I can assure you we have plenty of chess experts on the team and have also partnered with the Asian Chess Federation and other domain experts  to ensure that we're on top of our game.  

However, that’s not enough. We strongly believe that partnering with the community will allow us to increase opportunities for players and help us up our game. Not just by listening, but enabling, and co-developing opportunities, working together to unlock our potential. Our first mission is to accelerate chess as an esport by providing players and federations with the tools to earn, increase the opportunities for female players and invest in talent.  Earning from the game should be possible for all players, not just the elite or extroverted. Our past endeavours have led us to define our first principals as a team. For my part, it has been coloured by my own experience in entertainment, sport, ppv and not-for-profit boards.

When I first got involved in esports when VADR  launched LPL we set up the New Zealand Esports Federation to promote esports as a sport and ensure the industry and community had a voice. After securing its status as a government-recognised sport and ensuring it was financially sound, we stepped away and handed over the keys. Today, young players have access to the same resources and support as other top-level sports people. Admittley, not everyone was a fan at first but today its a key pillar of the ecoo-system owned by the community that provides players opportunities that they didn’t have before. It was a journey that have gave me a great sense of purpose and I very much look forward to applying the learnings from that experience to Checkmate.

At a similar time, co-founder Jamie Skella co-founded Horizon State, a web3 pioneer that developed solutions that enabled community-led decision-making by leveraging blockchain technology. We're both excited, along with our fellow founders, to co-develop a better experience where play, social good, community and commercial interests align.

Community-lead decision making and representation

Entrepreneurship, chess, and sports are all similar, success requires preparation, training, hard work, a great team, resources, and a willingness to learn. Together we want to accelerate speed chess and mind games to the next level, and we can only do that by working as a team, working with the community and not stifling what makes us unique. 

We've done the groundwork and put the key pieces in place and now we’re looking for players who want to join us on our mission. For those who want to trade and profit, bring it on. The more you profit, the more the community treasury grows. For those that want to compete, work with us to create a level playing field and more opportunities to earn. And for those who just want to connect with mates, play and entertain, we’ll be right there with you. 

The Founders Mint is where we open the next phase to partner and co-develop with the community, driven by the ethos of mateship, to unlock the upside.

We invite players, thinkers, and visionaries to join our team as a lil'mate, together we can all play our own small part in accelerating chess and mind sports as an esport.

‍My door is open if anyone wants a one-on-one chat.


John McRae
Founder, Checkmate
+61421001766 [Mobile and Whatsapp]
Book a time to chat 

John McRae
5 min read