Thursday, June 3, 2010

Chess And Mathematics

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".

A related Story of the same author:,_Now_Time_To_Have_a_Hero_N42745.html


  1. hello sir !
    this is saurabh ratnaparkhi from nasik (maharashtra). I was one of the participant in the workshop of science writing organised by vignanbharati. At that time i asked you question related to speed of development and communication gap in the society( i hope you remember it). i just want to know about the scholerships and competitions which you mentioned in your ppt. can you send it on my email i.d.?? (
    your recent blog on chess and mathematics was fantastick.
    waiting for your reply !
    saurabh ratnaparkhi

  2. Dear Saurabh

    Thanks for responding to the blog.

    I only vaguely remeber the question you mentioned.

    So far scholarships, I really have no idea. Institutes who have Journalism and Mass Media progrmmes might be knowing about it.

    If you are looking for a job on science writing etc the best way is to get yourself registered with job websites.

    I hope you are keeping in touch with scientific issues.

    vinod varshney

  3. yes,chess player can trounce 40 mathematician,reason they don't knowhow to play. chess player ,mathematician both are on positionaccording to their IQ chess player has one field,mathematician hasenormous fields to expeiment. mathematician can also play chess ifinterested to learn.

  4. This year national closed is currently being held at UKM.This annual event is divided into two catgeories that is the men and women championship.There are no official Terengganu players in this championship but our very own Mohd Syazwan Zulkifili is taking part in this championship.In the history of national championship Terengganu players yet to to win the championship.Also hopefully we will be able to send women players in the next edition as well as men to take part as official representatives.My involvement in this events starts in 1991 to 2001.At that time Park Royal Hotel was the venue sponsor for a few years before shifted to PWTC and DATCC.