Chess champ takes on 20 opponents at Hay
May 25 2008 Media Wales
Former chess grandmaster Boris Spassky will today take on 20 opponents simultaneously – including one in Antarctica.
Spassky will take up the challenge at the Hay Festival, in mid Wales.
And, with Antarctica 8,000 miles away, it will be the longest distance live chess match ever attempted.
Spassky’s on-line opponent on the continent will be Ian McNab, a field technician with the British Antarctic Survey based on the Rothera Research Station.
His other 19 opponents, who include comedian Dom Joly, Liberal Democrat Welsh Assembly Member Peter Black, and a number of the area’s leading child chess prodigies, will play him in person.
Mr MacNab, 52, from Manchester, said: “I am not very optimistic. I would describe myself as an amateur, but I was quite good as a teenager. I don’t think that Boris has much to be afraid of.”
The former outdoor pursuits instructor is part of a British team of 21 scientists and experts who are undertaking a long-term monitoring of environmental and maritime changes in the region.
Their next physical contact with the outside world will not take place until the arrival of a supply ship in October 2008.
Spassky, a 71-year-old Russian, became grandmaster at the age of 18 and proceeded to win the Soviet Chess Championship twice.
He was in the world’s top ten players for most of the years between the mid 50s and the mid 80s.
The simultaneous chess match will take place at 6pm at Richard Booth’s Bookshop, in Lion Street, Hay-On-Wye.
The challenge pre-emts the former world number one’s talk at the annual literary festival tomorrow about his famous loss to Bobby Fischer, in Reykjavik, at the height of the Cold War in 1972.