Kids vs the space monster

Kids vs the space monster

FM FM_Eric_Schiller
Jan 17, 2009, 12:00 AM |
10 | Other

It''s not Kasparov vs. The World, but a very spirited consultation game is taking place between NASA astronaut Greg Chamitoff - an amateur chess aficionado - and, well, anybody else who wants to participate.

The game started last fall, when astronaut Chamitoff was in the middle of a six month stint aboard the International Space Station.  A series of newspaper articles had appeared, showing him floating in front of what appeared to be a standard tournament set and board - not floating, of course.  He was playing correspondence chess with ground controllers at various locations around the world, and his set was secured to a felt board with velcro.

Chamitoff and NASA decided to see about arranging a game against the Earth-bound public, but unlike the 13th world champion, he would not likely be able to stand up against the combined resources of many GMs, scores of computer users, and thousands of man-hours of opposition on each and every move.  Instead, a team of young scholastic chess champions at Stevenson Elementary School, in Bellevue, Washington - second and third grader who had won the US National Elementary School Championship for Grade 3 and Under last spring - was selected to develop up to four candidate moves, and the public would then vote on their offerings.

The game - which is hosted on the web site of the United States Chess Federation, at www.uschess.org/nasa2009 - completed 14 moves of spirited tactics before Chamitoff's tour of duty aboard ISS ended late last year.

 

After a break for winding up his duties in space, starting to reacclimate to gravity, and the end-of-year holidays, the game has resumed, and chess.com members and visitors are invited to join the rest of the public in weighing in on the choices for Earth's team.  Voting on move 15 is open now through Monday afternoon.

Resources:

Video of astronaut Greg Chamitoff greeting his new opponents at move two:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mj52CgKHzHQ

Video of Chamitoff resuming play at move 15:

http://anon.nasa-global.edgesuite.net/anon.nasa-global/ccvideos/Chamitoff_Chess_Move.asx

Game site and archive:

www.uschess.org/nasa2009

Thanks to Hal Bogner for his assistance with this article.

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