Starry knight: Top GM to play in ‘Earth’ vs ‘Space’ chess match | Chess News

CHENNAI: The coronavirus hasn’t been able to dim the magic of at least one sport, chess, which has boomed even as other outdoor activity has come to a near-complete standstill. It seems even the sky isn’t the limit for this game of 64 squares, which is readying for a unique ‘cosmic’ clash on June 9.
A one-of-a-kind contest is set to be organised between ‘Earth’ – represented by Grandmaster Sergey Karjakin – and ‘Space’, featuring cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Wagner, who will team up and play from the International Space Station (ISS). The clash will mark the 50th anniversary of the first Earth-versus-Space clash on June 9, 1970, which ended in a draw.
It remains to be seen if GM Karjakin, the 30-year-old Russian who is a former rapid and blitz world champion and holds the record of being the youngest-ever Grandmaster in chess history, will have the upper hand. “I’m sure that it will be one of the most unusual and unforgettable matches for me. I admire the cosmonauts as they are the real heroes, and I understand how difficult it will be for them to play from the middle of nowhere,” Karjakin told TOI.
The only other instance of a ‘Space-Earth’ clash was held in 2008 when NASA partnered with the US Chess Federation (USCF), with ‘Earth’ emerging victorious. This time, the ‘Space’ team will get to open the proceedings from the ISS during the 15-minute contest, while Karjakin will be making his moves seated at the Moscow Museum of Cosmonautics.
Mark Glukhovsky, executive director of the Chess Federation of Russia, told TOI, “The match is very important for us because the Russians love space and everything connected with it. The half-century anniversary is a great opportunity to remind people about the historical match. Sergey Karjakin is the most popular chess player in Russia and we are happy to have him for this occasion.”
The players will make their moves on a tablet and live streaming is being organised both Russian and English. The broadcast will start at 12 am Moscow time. In the first-ever ‘Space vs Earth’ clash back in 1970, the crew of Soviet spacecraft Soyuz-9c – comprising pilot-cosmonauts Andriyan Grigoryevich Nikolaev and Vitaly Ivanovich Sevastyanov – represented the ‘Space’ team.
‘Earth’ representatives featured the head of the Soviet cosmonauts training centre, Nikolai Petrovich Kamanin, and pilot-cosmonaut Viktor Gorbatko. The game took place when the crew had a rest day and lasted for about six hours. Communication was maintained over the radio. A unique chess set designed for zero gravity conditions was used for that game.

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