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Ostap Bender and the Space Chess Game Print E-mail
By Glenn Petersen, Editor, Chess Life for Kids   
November 8, 2008
As Astronaut Greg Chamitoff ponders his response to Earth's 12...Qxc5 (see latest vote results), you can ponder this:
What do Greg Chamitoff and Women's World Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk have in common?
While Greg's immediate concern is to find a way to save his rook on f1 (if it can be done), one of the purposes of the Earth vs. Space match is to promote the game of chess.  Greg is doing it from high above the stratosphere; Alexandra is using a more traditional method - over the board and on earth!
And what of Alexandra?  She's been following the game and has this to say:
"About the game and position itself there is not much to say except that Black is doing fine but it will be a hard fight to the end, so Black should pay attention to every move as the Spaceman can regain the advantage if Black is not careful.  What is more important to say is that it's wonderful to see that chess can be played between players that are so far away! Not so many games allow that.
thumb_Monument_to_Ostap_Bender_in_Elista.JPG"This reminds me of the famous novel by the Russian authors Ilf and Petrov called "The Twelve Chairs" in which the hero of the story is called Ostap Bender who is a tricky individual who makes people believe he's a chess grandmaster and makes a now very well-known speech about making a small town called Vasiuki very famous by engaging it into a series of chess matches against the whole world, and even against other planets!   
"That's when he proposes to rename the city of Vasiuki to "New Vasiuki".  So in Russia now everybody knows about "New Vasiuki" and it represents the unrealistic goal of making a chess match between people across the cosmos.  It's now a proverb, so somebody can say "Don't tell me about New Vasiuki," meaning stay on earth, be realistic. This fictional hero is so famous that there are statues in many places such as in the Ukraine and in Kalmykia I have seen myself a very nice statue of Ostap Bender holding a chess knight.
"So congratulations to all of you at USChess and NASA and all who made this impossible feat real! You have now created a "New Vasiuki"!!! The impossible is now true! Chess is now an interplanetary game!"

Best wishes,
Alexandra Kosteniuk
And thank you, Alexandra, for taking time out from your busy schedule.

Greg Chamitoff vs. Earth (after 12...Qxc5)

By the way, this isn't the only game Greg has in progress.  He also has games with six Mission Control Centers around the world, and you can view those games in the Chess Viewer by clicking on "Game List."

USCF Correspondence Chess Director Alex Dunne has been providing commentary on recent moves, which you can see when you replay the game in our Chess Viewer.

Reminder: Don't miss a moment of this historic match - add our RSS feed to keep up with the latest developments, as articles and moves are posted here, and as voting periods occur.
Earth vs. Space Chess Match, 2008-09

Astronaut Dr. Greg Chamitoff has sent 46.Kxa2 and his resignation and congratulations to the Stevenson stars and Earth's voters.
Use the Java chess viewer (below) to review and analyze this historic game and read game commentary.

Explore the game in our Chess Viewer

(Click here for help with Java or the chess viewer, or click here for a move list.)

The Final Position:
(after Greg's 46.Kxa2)


Read NASA's announcement about this game.

If you don't know all the rules of chess, and would like to learn, click here.
Media Contacts:
NASA - Kelly Humphries
Johnson Space Center, Houston

USCF - Glenn Petersen
[email protected]

Stevenson Team -
Coach David Hendricks
WA State Scholastic Coordinator

Match Director -
Hal Bogner
[email protected]