People have played it among themselves, they have played the game against super computers and they have played it in cyberspace. Now it's time for chess to take to the outer space for weightless chess.
Just two weeks before India's Viswanathan Anand meets Russia's Vladimir Kramnik in the most-anticipated clash of chess titans — the World Chess Championship at Bonn, the most cerebral of the modern day sports will make its foray into space on Monday when an astronaut traveling 210 miles above the earth at five miles a second in the will take on a team from Earth in a unique Space Match. The match is being organized by NASA in collaboration with the United States Chess Federation (USCF) and will be broadcast live on the internet.
In the unique match, American astronaut Dr. Greg Chamitoff will take on all earthlings, led by a team from Stevenson Elementary School, Bellevue, Wash., that won this year's US Chess Championship title for third grade.
Chamitoff will play from the International Space Station and will be making the first move. The Stevenson Elementary team will select up to four possible moves on Earth's turn. The moves will be put to vote by public and the best option will be relayed to Chamitoff through NASA's Mission Control. You can also vote on Earth's move by logging into the USCF website (http://www.uschess.org/nasa2008).
The game is expected to proceed at a pace of roughly one move for each side every two days, but it may move faster at times, the USCF said in a release posted on its website.
"For the past 10 years, the International Space Station has been an important platform to learn about living in space. We're excited to have the opportunity to engage not only young students, but the public at large in this unique chess match," said Heather Rarick, lead flight director for the current space station mission at NASA's Johnson Space Center, in a press release.
According to the NASA release, Chamitoff is a chess aficionado and has taken a chess set with him when he took off for the ISS via the STS-124 space shuttle mission in June. He has added Velcro, a type of fabric hook-and-loop fasteners, to the chess pieces to keep them from floating away in weightlessness. He has been playing long-distance chess during his mission in his off time with station control centers around the world. So far, he is undefeated.