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Maroczy vs. Korchnoi
August 3, 2011 12:59 PM   Subscribe

A New Meaning for “Soul Mate” [PDF] - the curious case of a game of chess between Hungarian Géza Maróczy and Russian GM Viktor Korchnoi... curious, at the very least, because it began more than thirty years after Maróczy's death. The game itself, and further analysis [PDF again].
posted by Wolfdog (18 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
(The linked articles do not take a particularly skeptical view of the matter; it is possible, however, that the spirit of Géza Maróczy was not actually the agent behind white's moves in this game.)
posted by Wolfdog at 1:02 PM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


foxit pdf viewer tells me the pdf is corrupted and won't open it.
posted by k5.user at 1:12 PM on August 3, 2011


Works here: Foxit 4.1.x.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:16 PM on August 3, 2011


Worked for me. Fun read!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:19 PM on August 3, 2011


Also worked for me. For anyone else: pagecaps on Imgur.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:24 PM on August 3, 2011


Wolfdog: it is possible, however, that the spirit of Géza Maróczy was not actually the agent behind white's moves in this game

You don't say. This is a completely flawed test from a scientific perspective, not that it was necessarily meant to be scientific. Just saying.
The move was communicated through Rollans via automatic writing, forwarded to Eisenbeiss, who passed it on to Korchnoi. When Korchnoi determined his response, he told Eisenbeiss, who told Rollans.
This process is a little vague, but it sounds as though Korchnoi, the living chess player, may have actually been the one interpreting the automatic writing. This can be highly subjective, and he may have been projecting what he thought were likely moves onto what was actually rather random or semi-random scribbles.

I also note that every step travels through Eisenbess, both directions. He was the one who proposed and facilitated this game, and there could hardly be a more biased moderator. He might easily have consciously or unconsciously effected the results.

The interview portion is interesting, but since the whole game/process took so many years to accomplish, I am less persuaded by the apparently extensive research that would be needed to arrive at so many correct statements. With so much time available, this could likely have been faked or facilitated by either Rollans or Eisenbess. Also, we do not see the original written material delivered by the medium. It's possible it was more vague than is described, similar to cold reading.

The main problem is that every one of the three involved, over such long time frame, had every incentive that the experiment work.

It was an interesting read, and I'm glad to have seen it. I wish the author hadn't been so breathlessly eager to sell it as real evidence of life after death.
posted by gilrain at 1:57 PM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hey, do I bring rooks to your Ouija games?
posted by PlusDistance at 2:05 PM on August 3, 2011


the medium had the two necessary qualifications: he was trustworthy and he knew nothing of chess.

Contradiction in terms.
posted by 7segment at 2:18 PM on August 3, 2011


foxit pdf viewer tells me the pdf is corrupted and won't open it.
posted by k5.user at 1:12 PM on August 3 [+] [!]


It's because your skepticism is making the spirits angry.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:23 PM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


My favorite part is the Additional Comment at the end! Parapsychology fight!
posted by muddgirl at 2:28 PM on August 3, 2011


But can this ghost beat The Turk?

I like how the article casually throws this in, "Mind reading, even on a grand scale, can't explain things either".

You know, as if "mind reading" was the next likeliest explanation after "spirit communication".

Here's how this hoax worked: The medium was playing a concurrent game of correspondence chess with another real grandmaster, so in reality it was the two live grandmasters playing each other. The second grandmaster doesn't even need to know he's part of the hoax. With months between moves, it would be easy to do.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 2:52 PM on August 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


I like how the article casually throws this in, "Mind reading, even on a grand scale, can't explain things either".

You know, as if "mind reading" was the next likeliest explanation after "spirit communication".


"The milk was gone from the fridge this morning. Obvious conclusion? GHOSTS."
posted by Sebmojo at 3:19 PM on August 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Before I read this, I was kinda hoping that it was a correspondence game started while two parties were alive, and then finished on the part of the deceased by a computer running a "Maroczy algorithm".

After reading it, I think that would have been better.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 3:21 PM on August 3, 2011


The event was apparently somewhat underreported at the time, but there is no escaping the journalistic excellence of the Weekly World News: 1998, 1992.
posted by Wolfdog at 4:26 PM on August 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Before reading the article, I guessed that Maróczy composed a game with his moves plotted out for all of the possible lines of play, so that future grandmasters could "play against him." That might conceivably be possible if he used extremely forcing moves. That would almost inevitably mean a loss for him, since the options are so constrained, but it could be an interesting exercise.
posted by abcde at 7:06 PM on August 3, 2011


Actually, that might be a little more feasible if he took, say, queen and knight odds, for being dead.
posted by abcde at 7:28 PM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


"The milk was gone from the fridge this morning. Obvious conclusion? GHOSTS."

This is just a straw man. Telekinesis and/or boggarts are a far more likely conclusion. No serious researcher in the field believes that spirits drink milk. Except Santa Claus, of course.

abcde, I made the same assumption. Would have been even awesomer if he'd included instructions to have his queens walking through other pieces, tortured wraiths that once were captured pawns stalking the lonely ranks taking unsuspecting travelers en passant, etc.
posted by No-sword at 8:15 PM on August 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


I agree that running a correspondence game with a GM is the most likely way that this was done. But, what would have happened if that unknown GM had died, or resigned early? It seems like that would have put the Spiritualist in a hell of a bind.
posted by thelonius at 3:31 PM on August 4, 2011


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