Will One Chess Player
40 Mathematicians ?
Writes Vinod Varshney
Mathematicians are gifted with powerful brains. What about chess players? They have even more formidable grey matter. India, a country of Ramanujan, may not have any world class mathematician today, but we certainly have one world chess champion—Vishwanathan Anand.
He will be pitted against 40 mathematicians in August when he will simultaneously play chess with them in Hyderabad.
Let me remind August 2010 will see the largest gathering of mathematical geeks ever in India as Hyderabad is hosting the International Congress of Mathematicians, the biggest and most prestigious international mathematical meeting.
Chess Is The Most Brain-twisting Game
Chess is the most brain-twisting of all games. Chess and problem solving in mathematics require same kind of faculty. That is the reason one finds many chess enthusiasts among mathematicians. Emanuel Lasker, the well-known mathematician was the world chess champion for 27 years (1894–1921).
The game of chess originated in India in the sixth century. It was called Chaturanga, in Sanskrit, meaning four divisions of military -- infantry, cavalry, elephants and chariots, represented by the pieces that would evolve into the modern pawn, knight, bishop, and rook, respectively. The modern form of the game is somewhat different from the Indian version and evolved in Europe in the fifteenth century.
It is indeed a matter of great pride for India that an Indian is the world champion in the game which has Indian roots. It may be a matter of even more pride if this year some Indian gets the Fields Medal, the highest award in mathematics. Not a single Indian has ever been able to get it so far.
Vishy Anand Deeply Interested in Maths
Does Anand maintain some interest in mathematics and science? Yes, one of his favourite books which he often refers to is Andrew Hodges's 'Inner Life of Numbers'. Asked about the unique opportunity to play 40 brilliant mathematicians, Anand said, “Actually I am quite looking forward to attending the congress and may even hear some lectures. I enjoyed Simon Singh's book on Fermat's Last Theorem and I keep reading the book repeatedly.
“In fact when I first became a Grandmaster, someone presented me the book, 'The Man who knew infinity', a biography of Ramanujan. I was intrigued by his natural genius. That was my first introduction to a mathematician. Both chess and mathematics are closely linked and lots of our methodology in problem solving is similar".
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