Mathematics and Chess Page

The latest version of this webpage is being maintained here. I'll update this page at some point when I get more time. For now, please go to the Mathematicians and Chess page.

Chess teaches many things, including strategic thinking. Though one might think at first that this type of thinking is unrelated to mathematics, in fact, chess also teaches a type of "calculation" (see Soltis's book [4] for the exact idea). To anyone who thinks doing mathematics and playing chess are unrelated, this page is for you.

A paraphrase from the entry under Mathematics and Chess in [5]: In 1893, a Professor Binet (of Stanford-Binet IQ test fame) made a study of the connection between mathematics and chess. After questioning a large number of leading plyers, he discovered that 90% were very good mental calculators. On the other hand, he discovered that although mathematicians are often interested in chess, few become top-class players.... Professor Binet commented that both chess and mathematics have a common direction and the same taste for combinations, abstraction, and precision. One characteristic which was missing from mathematics was the combat, in which two individuals contend for mastery, with all the qualities required of generals in the field of battle.

This page contains information on

Mathematicians who play, or have played, chess:

Some other possible entries for the above list:

There is some misleading information given either in the literature or on some internet web pages.


  1. Eero Bonsdorff, Dr Karl Fabel, Olavi Riihimaa, Schach und Zahl, unterhaltsame schachmathematik, Walter Rau Verlag, Dusseldorf, 1966
  2. Lasker, E. "Zur theorie der moduln und ideale," Math. Ann. 60(1905)20-116
  3. Kunz, Introduction to Commutative Algebra and Algebraic Geometry, Birkhauser, Boston, 1985
  4. Nunn, J. D. M. "The homotopy types of finite H-spaces," Topology 18 (1979), no. 1, 17--28
  5. A. Soltis, The Inner Game of Chess, David McKay Co. Inc, (Random House), New York, 1994
  6. A. Sunnucks, The Encyclopedia of Chess, 2nd ed, St Martins Press, New York, 1976

Papers about mathematical problems in chess:

I only know of a few sources:

Created 10-28-97. Thanks to Christoph Bandelow, Max Burkett, Elaine Griffith, Hannu Lehto, John Kalme, Ewart Shaw, Richard Stanley, Will Traves, Steven Dowd, Z. Kornin, and Noam Elkies for help and corrections on this page.

Last updated 2012-11-12. Any comments or additions to suggest? Please email me at: