Mathematics and ChessMacTutor Index

Previous page
(Fundamentals)
Contents Next page
(References)

Conclusion

Chess has captivated mankind for centuries, and continues to do so. As with so many fascinations, it is difficult to pin down exactly where the spark of intrigue lies. There are theories of course. Many would claim that humanity thrives on war and conflict, and on being victorious through our cunning. Others have more perverse explanations, such as the claim that in fact, the male obsession with the game is part of an innate, oedipal desire to kill our own father (Reider, 1959). Fortunately for the mathematician, it is possible to detach oneself from the psychology and claim that the beauty of the mathematics associated with Chess, direct or indirect, speaks for itself. We thus defer the question to one such as 'Why have any interest in mathematics?' This is certainly a question to steer clear of at this time.

Some Chess puzzles have been solved. The Knight's tour is unlikely to attract a huge amount of new study following the cited papers of the last fifty years. That said, it cannot be claimed that because it is complete, the interest has dissolved. Just as there is satisfaction in solving a Chess problem regardless of the fact that that the existence of the problem implies a solution which has already been found, there will be many people who will gain much satisfaction from completing a Knight's tour using Warnsdorff's algorithm. The 'solution' to Chess is awaiting discovery, it is potentially possible to find it, though it may never be found. However, were a solution discovered, it would not necessarily imply the end of Chess as Zermelo claimed. The solution would almost certainly be too large for a human to learn, and even if it were not, Chess would survive. We still play Noughts and Crosses, after all.


Previous page
(Fundamentals)
Contents Next page
(References)

John MacQuarrie January 2005