Letter #16 - 2003
History of mathematics and Chess
4/26/2003 11:10:16 AM MDT
I am a historian of mathematics, trying to find out more about the role Chess played in the life of mathematician Leonhard Euler. I wonder if the Chess community can help me find some answers.
Here's what I know:
Around 1750, Euler lived and worked in Berlin at the Academy of Sciences under Frederick the Great. Euler enjoyed Chess, but wasn't very good. He wanted to be better, so he took some lessons and improved rapidly.
A few years later, he had a chance to meet Philidor in Potsdam, but since going to Potsdam probably would have required Euler to meet and be nice to Voltaire, and Euler disliked Voltaire, Euler passed on the opportunity.
Around that same time, Euler did his work on the Knight's tour. He begins the paper he wrote with the remark that "after dinner one recent evening, the conversation turned to Chess ..."
Here are my questions.
1. Are there any of Euler's games recorded?
2. Who might have been Euler's chess teacher in Berlin around 1750?
3. Who might have been that dinner guest when "conversation turned
to Chess ..."?
I'd be interested in facts or speculation, but I'd appreciate it if you keep me straight on what is fact and what is guesswork.
Western Connecticut State University
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