Spassky vs Nash: chess and maths in Rome

Chess was one of the main arguments at Europe’s first Mathematics Festival in Rome, which took place 15th-18th March. Yesterday morning former world champion Boris Spassky talked to Nobel prize winner for Physics Zhores Alferov about the relationship between maths and chess and, after the conversation, he played a simul against 15 illustrious opponents. The most famous of them, perhaps, was John Nash, subject of the Oscar-winning film "A Beautiful Mind", who talked for the first time in public, some hours later, about his struggle with schizophrenia and his unexpected Nobel Prize. In youth Nash took a particular liking to board games, such as go, backgammon, chess and kriegspiel (a form of chess in which each player is unaware of the other's moves), and invented a game of his own.
Other renowned participants in the simul were Zhores Alferov, Douglas Hofstadter, Andrew Wiles and John Nash jr. Spassky allowed his opponents retry bad moves; in spite of that he didn't lose any game. On saturday the former world champion also gave an interview to italian radio "Radio3 Scienza"; among other things he said: "The years of my chess reign have been the worst of my life: the title was a big responsibility and there was too much pressure on me".

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