Mind Games in Space

50 years ago the very first game of chess played between a person firmly grounded on earth and another floating in outer space was played. It happened between cosmonauts Andrian Nikolayev and Vitaly Sevastyanov who played from the Soyuz 9 in space against Viktor Gorbakto and Nikolai Kamanin, who played from earth.

Chess has always had a close relationship with the highest intellectual pursuits by mankind and this commemorative event is no different. Who can forget the awe we felt when we first saw Star Trek’s Spock playing that critical 3D chess game in the 1967 episode Court Martial?

Captain Kirk looks on as Spock ponders the next move on in Star Trek

To commemorate this event, Grandmaster Sergey Karjakin played a game of chess against cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner on Tuesday 9th June to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this 1st ever Space-Earth game in the world. 
The game ended in a fast and sharp draw, where almost all of the moves were perfectly played.

The game was organised by the Moscow Museum of Cosmonautics, the Russian space agency Roscosmos and the Russian Chess Federation and broadcast live from 11:00 CEST, in English. “It was the most extraordinary game for me, even more exciting than the Championship Match in New York! I am really surprised how well prepared the cosmonauts are! And now I know that the brain works as good in space as it does on earth. It was an honor for me to be the second chess player who participated in such an interesting interplanetary game”, said Karjakin.

This just barely a week after South African born Elon Musk’s SpaceX, successfully launched NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behken to the International Space Station, 420km above the earth.

It seems like mankind is once more looking longingly towards the heavens for conquering the final frontier. These are exciting times we live in!

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