Swedish Astronaut to play Chess from Space

8/21/2009 – Remember American astronaut Greg Chamitoff, who a year ago played chess against the NASA ground stations. Well, now European Space Agency astronaut Christer Fuglesang, Sweden, is going to do the same, playing a game against the Swedish public. Right now Fuglesang is in quarantine awaiting an August 24th launch. But the game has already started, and you can take part.

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Swedish Astronaut to play Chess from Space

The leading Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter is covering a chess game between the astronaut Christer Fuglesang and the Swedish people.

Right now the Swedish astronaut Christer Fuglesang is in quarantine awaiting his second trip into space with the NASA ship "Endeavor". Endeavor will once again take him up to the space station "ISS". The space trip is scheduled for August 24th, but with space trips you never know.


Seven astronauts pose for a STS-128 crew portrait – Christer Fuglesang is third from right [Photos by Nasa]

During the space odyssey Mr Fuglesang will be playing chess against the Swedish public. Dagens Nyheter will be covering the game "move by move" in the printed version of the newspaper. Online anyone who wants to can play against Mr. Fuglesang. Chess moderators will pick out three different moves that the public, playing black, will be able to choose from by voting online. The move that gets the most votes will be sent out to space.


What he does when he is not playing chess: European Space Agency astronaut Christer Fuglesang...


...during extravehicular activity (EVA) at the International Space Station. [All photos by Nasa]

"It will be great fun," Christer Fuglesang says, "I have been playing chess since I was six – I love the game."


Christer getting out of his work clothes...


... and spend some time relaxing with the boys (Christer is the one floating in the middle)


Trying to find a good line to play against the Dagens Nyheter readers? [All photos by Nasa]

Mr Fuglesang will not be able to use a normal chess set. The weightlessness would create some problems with chessmen flying around everywhere. However, as usual the people from NASA have a solution. Mr Fuglesang has a specially created chess set made with Velcro, so hopefully his chessmen will stay "on-board".

In his youth Mr Fuglesang was a club chess player and nowadays he is a member of the Swedish Chess Academy, striving to promote chess. "We are very proud to arrange an event like this," says Robert Unt, from the Swedish Chess Academy. "Hopefully it will give chess a lot of exciting attention".


Others drive to work in a car or commute by train – Christer rides this thing


Using a notebook computer on the middeck of Space Shuttle Discovery during flight


Preparing a meal at the galley on the middeck [All photos by Nasa]

The first moves are made from the base center and once Mr Fuglesang is up in space it will turn into a real space chess game. ISS is located some 350 kilometers above the surface of the Earth. Mr Fuglesang began with the move 1. d4, and so far the moves have been:

Fuglesang,Christer - Dagens Nyheter readers [D23]
ISS-Sweden Zurich, 20.08.2009
1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 Bg4 5.Bxc4 e6 6.h3 Bh5 7.0-0 Be7 8.Nc3 – the final position is shown in the first picture above.


Houston, we have checkmate

This is not the first chess game between an astronaut on the International Space Station and Earth. A year ago US astronaut Greg Chamitoff, another space walking chess buff, played chess against the Ground Stations. The first game was won convincingly by Chamitoff, who is a decent amateur player. He went on to play six simultaneous games against different Ground Stations.


The weightless astronaut Gregory Chamitoff ponders a position on the ISS


Flight Director Chris Edelen in Houston's station flight control room ponders a move he hopes will reboost Earth's position.


Chamitoff after playing his 18th move (18.Qb1) in game one [All photos by Nasa]


Houston Ground Control set up this Exel spreadsheet with the game notation


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