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Looking Back at the Recent Space Chess Game

Sergey Karjakin is playing against the cosmonauts

On June 9 of 2020, the second ever chess match between Space and Earth took place in the main hall of the Moscow Museum of Cosmonautics. The event has been co-organized by the Moscow Museum of Cosmonautics, Roscosmos, the Russian State Corporation, the Chess Federation of Russia, and the social network VKontakte. The game took place online on FIDE Online Arena.

The match featured pilot-cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin, and test-cosmonaut Ivan Vagner, who delivered the battle from aboard the International Space Station. Representing team Earth was Sergey Karjakin – a rapid and blitz world champion, and two-time winner of the world team championships as part of the Russian team. He played the game in the Moscow Museum of Cosmonautics.

The match was timed precisely to the half-century anniversary of the first Space to Earth game of chess played on June 9, 1970. Not unlike 50 years ago, the first move advantage belonged to the space crew.

The game ended in a draw. The VKontakte platform gathered more than 800,000 people to watch the match broadcast.

Mr. Ivanishin has noted that it was a great honor for cosmonauts to hold their ground against a grandmaster.

Sergey Karjakin has shared his impressions of the game: “In this game, my emotions ran higher than in any game played by me in the world championship match. This is because when you play against team Space, you have no idea what to expect. The game was very interesting and sharp, and, at the same time, quite a correct one in terms of chess content. I do not think the opponents have made any mistakes; therefore, a draw is a natural outcome. A human brain seems to function extremely well in space. They say, space brings people together. As we have seen today, chess can indeed help people of various professions reach each other even across space. Therefore, let us organize such matches more frequently than on a once-per-50-year basis.

A well-known TV presenter and sports commentator Dmitry Guberniev and head of the Museum’s press service Daria Chudnaya were hosts of the program. Greetings were sent by the Minister of Sports of the Russian Federation Oleg Matytsin, Director General of the Roscosmos State Corporation Dmitry Rogozin, and the Museum of Cosmonautics Director Natalya Artyukhina. A video was shown during the stream with a story about the legendary Space Chess set and an interview with the many-time world champion Anatoly Karpov.

You can watch the match commented in the English language on the YouTube channels of Roscosmos and FIDE.

The anniversary match has become the culmination of celebrations dedicated to the legendary chess game.

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