What a chess game would sound like if played on the piano

Full disclosure: While loving chess, I am horrible at it.  Whether its playing against another individual or against a computer, I lose and lose soundly.

Chess, in its present form, originates from the second half of the 15th century, and features two players huddled over a chessboard with sixty-four squares in an eight by eight grid.

At the outset of a chess match, each player has sixteen pieces at their disposal: one king, one queen, two rooks, two knights, two bishops, and eight pawns. The object of the game is to checkmate the opponent’s king, meaning there is no way for the checkmated player to move or defend their king from an attack on the next move.

The game is, to say the least, difficult if you’re a dolt, or even remotely intelligent, given that theoreticians have developed extensive chess strategies and tactics, the vast majority of which I can neither name, nor implement, in a match.

To make chess more interesting, Jonathan W. Stokes, states the following:

“One can’t help but notice that algebraic chess notation maps almost perfectly to scientific pitch notation…”

Kudos to Stokes, because I’ve never noticed, nor given any thought to his idea.  That said, unlike chess, I do understand music.

Spurned by this notion, Stokes sets about proving his point that chess and music go together in perfect harmony (yes, I went there):

“The eight columns of a chess board correspond to the eight audible octaves.  E.g., C4 is a middle square on the chess board and C4 is “middle C” on the piano… We’ll simply use the Northern European system of musical notation, where an “H” indicates a B Natural, and a “B” indicates a B flat.  This is the notation that composers from Schumann to Lizst used to sign the name “B-A-C-H” into their music (see BACH motif).”

Now that we’ve established Stokes’s fascination with the relationship between chess and music, here are two MP3’s he created to prove his hypothesis:

  1. In “The Immortal Game (June 21 1851)” Adolf Anderssen gave up both rooks, a bishop, and ultimately his queen, in order to checkmate Lionel Kieseritzky using only his three remaining minor pieces – a bishop and two knights. – LISTEN TO THE MP3: The Immortal Game
  2. At the World Chess Championship 1972, Game 6, Bobby Fischer beats Boris Spassky using an agressive queenside attack. Spassky not only applauded Fischer, but called it the best game in the match. LISTEN TO THE MP3: Bobby Fischer 1972

The music and inspiration behind the MP3s are impressive.  Visually, the connection between chess and music is even more impressive, as evidenced by a video created by Stokes where he translates Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” into a chess game.

Are you a chess player?  How would you rank yourself (bad, average, great)?  Did the music-chess relationship ever occur to you?

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Jeff Cormier

Animal, music, literature, and history lover. Law school graduate. Founder of C4 Universe. Writer for The Next Web and a few other internet destinations. Find me on any social network site under jffcrmr. It works, try it...

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