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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Exploring maths and chess with a solving grandmaster's mind!

Chess blog for latest chess news and chess trivia (c) Alexandra Kosteniuk, 2011

Hello everyone,

Here is a nice article on a solving grandmaster who explores chess combinations! Jonathan Dec has profiled him in The Daily Princetonian.

On Wednesday night in Peyton 145, Harvard mathematics professor and chess problem-solving Grandmaster Noam Elkies presented a lecture titled “Mathematics in Chess,” hosted by the Princeton Chess Club.

Elkies presented a variety of chess problems, often incorporating combinatorial mathematics into his presentation. He began his talk with a move known as the “Horwitz maneuver” before discussing a problem he composed in 1994, which looked for the fewest number of moves needed to create an elaborate, unlikely arrangement of pieces — 19.

He then asked the audience how many knights could fit on a standard chessboard without attacking one another — which turns out to be 32 — before presenting a problem created in the year 2005, which he engineered to have 2,005 solutions.

Elkies cited his childhood in Israel as one of the major causes for his interest in the game. “It was in the air for me a lot sooner than most people learn to play,” he explained.

Although he has a master’s ranking in tournament games, Elkies no longer plays and said he is better suited to problem-solving. “Probably because of my mathematical bent, I found myself able to do that better than playing over-the-board,” he explained. He won a world championship in chess problem-solving in 1996.

At age 14, Elkies became the youngest student ever to receive a perfect score in the International Mathematical Olympiad. He then went on to study at Columbia University, where he won the prestigious Putnam Competition at age 16, one of the youngest Putnam Fellows in the competition’s history.

After winning the Putnam competition two more times, Elkies graduated valedictorian at the age of 18 and completed his Ph.D. at age 20 at Harvard. Six years later, he became the youngest tenured, full professor in Harvard’s history.

Elkies is known not only for composing chess problems but for musical compositions as well, double-majoring in music and math as an undergraduate. He has maintained his interest in music, composing a piece called Brandenburg Concerto No. 7 in 2003, a continuation of Bach’s famous series.

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  • At October 6, 2011 at 6:09 AM , Anonymous Amrit Puri Knights Chess Club New Delhi said...

    Chess, maths and music have always had connections. Taking it to this level is rare of course. I am reminded of John Nunn too. Such guys are in a league by themselves.

  • At October 6, 2011 at 6:26 AM , Anonymous Aaron, Wurzburg said...

    What I could never figure out is people are in different leagues - those who solve and those who play - isn't it like that they require different skills? So maybe solving gm has different skills than regular gm.

  • At October 6, 2011 at 6:29 AM , Anonymous Sebastian Wolff, NY said...

    Steely nerves. He gotta win.

  • At October 6, 2011 at 6:42 AM , Anonymous Alexis Cochran, New Zealand said...

    What a sweet wish. Increasingly we see grandmasters who are 'normal' but special human beings. Very heartening.

  • At October 6, 2011 at 6:43 AM , Anonymous Miguel said...


  • At October 6, 2011 at 6:44 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    çok güzel.Için en iyi dileklerimi Ivanchuk

  • At October 6, 2011 at 6:47 AM , Anonymous Sainath, Colombo said...

    Best wishes to GM Ivanchuk and his wife. Once even Rabajov's room was robbed in San Luis. Latin America is definitely not worse than Asia etc. It's sad this were to happen in Sao Paulo. Crime is a problem across the world. I hope the police nab the culprits. Maybe they had an accomplice in the hotel.

  • At October 6, 2011 at 6:49 AM , Anonymous A.T. Pokhara said...

    Actually nowhere else in the world would a temporary passport would have been issued with such speed. You would need to be a prime minister or something in Asia for that or pay a hefty amount. It's just one of those terrible things. Wishing stronger recovery for Vassily and hopefully he wins the tournament now. That would be vindication.

  • At October 6, 2011 at 6:51 AM , Anonymous Brenda Kroll, Berlin said...

    At least they are safe. Thank god.

  • At October 6, 2011 at 6:54 AM , Anonymous ST, Pune, India said...

    Very sure that the incident was to unsettle him. More than anything else. There could be a bigger conspiracy behind this - maybe a personal enmity. Someone who didn't want Chucky to be the runaway winner and it would not be chess players - it must be someone else who hates him and accessed his departure info. Guess other players were also at the same hotel. So...

  • At October 6, 2011 at 6:55 AM , Anonymous Star said...

    His laptop bag was between his feet and the robbers didn't notice it. His passport was also out of reach in the inside pocket of his jacket. - Destiny!

  • At October 6, 2011 at 6:55 AM , Anonymous Symeon, Athens said...

    Aliens? Only they would target chess players. No?

  • At October 6, 2011 at 6:56 AM , Anonymous Sebastian Wolff, NY said...

    Are we discussing Chuky in this post? Why not in other post?

  • At October 6, 2011 at 7:05 AM , Anonymous Chris, New York said...

    Maybe they thought he had the prize money in the suitcases. With all that publicity it could be possible. The only logical explanation for me.


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