Anniversary Chess Match Space to Earth ends with a draw

by ChessBase
6/9/2020 – On June 9, the second 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, the Roscosmos State Corporation, the Chess Federation of Russia, and the social network VKontakte. The game between Sergey Karjakin and the cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner was short and exciting and ended in a draw. | Photos: Eteri Kublashvili

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Grandmaster Sergey Karjakin and Cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner made a draw

Press release by the Chess Federation of Russia

Tuesday, 9th June, 2020

The match featured pilot-cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin, Hero of the Russian Federation, 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.

A cosmonaut Anatoly 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.

April 18, 2020, hosted a big Online Space Chess Festival, co-organized by the Moscow Museum of Cosmonautics, the Roscosmos State Corporation, and the Chess Federation of Russia. The team chess tournament among Roscosmos employees, as well as open individual/team tournaments among schoolchildren, brought together as many as 338 teams from all over Russia and even a team from India. All in all, participation applications were filed by 2 609 players. The corporate tournament of Roscosmos employees brought together as many as 26 teams.

For reference:

Space – Earth is the first-ever chess game played on June 9, 1970, between the cosmonauts in flight and “representatives of the Earth.’ Space was represented by the crew of Soviet spacecraft Soyuz-9 consisting of pilot-cosmonauts Andriyan Grigoryevich Nikolaev and Vitaly Ivanovich Sevastyanov. Representing Earth were head of the Soviet cosmonauts training center, Colonel-General of Aviation Nikolai Petrovich Kamanin, and pilot-cosmonaut Viktor Vasilevich Gorbatko. Pilot-cosmonaut Valery Fedorovich Bykovsky was in charge of the game broadcast.

The game was taking place when the crew had a rest day and lasted about 6 hours. Communication was maintained over the radio. The moves were timed to when the ship would fly over the USSR territory. Space had the white pieces.

A unique chess set designed for zero gravity conditions was used for that game. The space chess designer was Mikhail Ivanovich Klevtsov – a young engineer, candidate of biological sciences, and employee of the Institute of Aviation and Space Medicine. Any magnet designs were ruled out because of sensitive instruments, but Klevtsov came up with an unsophisticated and original system of notches and grooves.

The Museum of Cosmonautics is one of the largest scientific and technical museums in Russia. The history of the museum starts in 1964, when the Monument to the Conquerors of Space first appeared on the map of Moscow.

Today, the Museum of Cosmonautics is one of the top three most visited museums in Moscow’s Department of Culture. The modern museum exposition is composed of eight exhibition halls. The museum’s collection includes more than 99,000 items: samples of rocket and aerospace technology, authentic relics, documents, philately, numismatics, decorative and applied works of art, and collections of paintings and graphics.

The museum tells the stories of the conquerors of space. Among them: the famous Belka and Strelka, authentic descent vehicles from Soyuz spacecraft, a model of the first artificial satellite “Sputnik,” the original Lunokhod control panel, a full-scale model of the base module of the “Mir” space station, and other space artifacts.

Official website of the museum:

ROSCOSMOS is a State Corporation established in August 2015 to oversee and implement a comprehensive reform of the Russian space industry.

State Space Corporation ROSCOSMOS ensures the implementation of the Russian government’s space program and its legal regulation. ROSCOSMOS also places orders for the development, manufacture and supply of space equipment and space infrastructure objects.

The state corporation is also responsible for international space cooperation and tasked with setting the stage for the future application of space activities findings for Russia's social and economic development.

Official website of SC ROSCOSMOS:

The Chess Federation of Russia (CFR) (from 1992 till 2019 known as the Russian Chess Federation) is an All-Russian non-governmental organization uniting regional chess federations as well as being a member of the International Chess Federation (FIDE). The Federation was founded in 1992 as a successor to the USSR Chess Federation.

The CFR charter recognizes the Federation congress as the supreme governing body to be convened at least once every four years. Besides, the collegiate governing body is the Federation’s Supervisory Board, which consists of five vice presidents and 26 representatives of regional federations. Since 2014, the sole executive authority has been vested with President of the Russian Chess Federation (since 2019, the Russian Federation of Chess). Andrey Filatov is the CFR’s current President.

The CFR is a direct organizer of many national and international tournaments, including the Russian Championship Higher League, Russian Team Championship and the international tournament Belaya Ladya. The CFR also hosts the Russian Rapid and Blitz Championships, the Russian Cup, the Grand Prix Rapid, and the Children's Russian Cup.

The game


An incredibly precise game by Ivanishin, Vagner and Karjakin. After 9.bxc4 Qxa1 the engines evaluate the position as 0.00 and predict the perpetual  that ended the game twelve moves later.


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