Magazine article The Spectator

Banach Vacuum

Magazine article The Spectator

Banach Vacuum

Article excerpt

There is a common belief that strong chess players will have a predilection for mathematics.

I know from my own personal experience that this is not always the case.

Someone who did conform to received opinion in this respect was Professor Nigel Kalton, a colleague of mine on both the Dulwich College and Trinity College Cambridge teams which were both successful in the UK Schools Championship during the 1960s and the Cambridge College league. Nigel went on to represent Cambridge in the annual Varsity match against Oxford, he secured two second prizes in the Cambridge University Championship and the high point of his career was his victory in the major open section of the British Championship, which qualified him for the 1971 championship itself. Soon afterwards he abandoned competitive chess for a career in mathematics, where he became a world expert on Banach spaces - a form of infinite-dimensional function space. To my astonishment, Nigel died last month at the early age of 64, having hardly exhibited a day's illness over the entire course of his life.

This week I give a game and a puzzle by Nigel Kalton against two players (one of them being myself) who went on to win the British Championship at various times.

Hartston-Kalton: Correspondence Game England 1962; King's Gambit 1 e4 e5 2 f4 I nfluenced at that time by Boris Spassky, Hartston often wheeled out the venerable King's Gambit. 2 . . . exf4 3 Nf3 g5 4 Bc4 Bg7 An alternative is 4 . . . g4 5 0-0 gxf3 6 Qxf3, the so-called Muzio Gambit where White gives up a piece for massive pressure in the f-file against Black's uncastled king. …

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