At a time when the entire sporting world has been brought to a halt, Russian Grandmaster Sergey Karjakin will play a game of chess against Russian cosmonauts, Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, who are currently based on the ISS.
It’s Earth versus Space.
A most unusual chess game
Fifty years ago, in 1970, the first Earth vs Space chess game was played. The Soyuz 9 Cosmonauts represented by Andrian Nikolayev and Vitaly Sevastyanov played against the ground-based cosmonauts Viktor Gorbakto and Nikolai Kamanin. The game took place when the crew had a rest day and lasted for six hours (or 4 orbits of Earth) — the moves were sent via radio whenever the shuttle would pass above Moscow.
In 2008-2009, NASA and the US Chess Federation organized another match between Earth and Space. It was American astronaut Dr. Greg (Taz) Chamitoff, who served as the Flight Engineer and Science Officer for a 6-month mission aboard the ISS, who pushed for the game to happen. This game took place at a crawling speed of one move per day, but it was a fun event that both sides enjoyed and that drew some attention to both the space program and chess itself.
Now, the next game will be played by Sergey Karjakin, who was a challenger for the title of world champion in 2016. Karjakin will be seated at the Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics, and the entire deal will be streamed by the Russian chess federation. This time, the game will happen much faster. Karjakin will play Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner who are 400 km away on the ISS.
Karjakin even called out Elon Musk in his Twitter announcement, though it’s not entirely clear why.
The game is meant to serve as a celebration of the early space pioneers, and how far we’ve come in the meantime. We no longer need to wait for the ship to pass over a specific place, astronauts on the ISS can make calls with their family with relative ease. Email also has a short lag.
So, E4 or D4?