The game of Chess might have been invented for some rudimentary training of military personnel.


The game of Chess is more complex than the game of Checkers in the sense that

  • there are more possible moves
  • some games could take up a lot of time
  • a reasonably good memory and technique are needed to beat strong opponents.

Championship level chess uses a clock and rules to ensure that a game ends within the specified period.

Some tournaments support “lightning move Chess”.


There are two sets of 16 pieces.
Each set has

  • King
  • Queen
  • Two Rooks (or Castles)
  • Two Bishops
  • Two Knights
  • Eight Pawns


The objective of the game is to capture the opponent’s King with a “Check mate”.

The player with the White pieces plays first and has some advantage over the player with the Black pieces. It needs skill and some luck to win with the Black pieces.

Saya Dawson and YMCA Chess

Saya Dawson, who taught Mathematics at SPHS before our time, opened his own Tuition school.

He was Burma Chess Champion. He was a friend of my cousin uncle Dr. Aung Nyein who played Chess regularly at YMCA.

Saya Dawson enrolled me in a Chess tournament at YMCA. I showed up at YMCA, and my 40+ year old opponent refused to play against a Char Taik (young chap). He gave me a walk over. In the next round, my 30+ year old opponent also gave me a walk over. My father told me that I was spoiling the tournament and should withdraw.

My Chess Sets

I had at least three sets.

  • My parents bought me a Standard Chess set with Plastic pieces.
  • Saya U Maung Maung Gyi, my father’s teacher, gave me a Wooden Chess set with leaded pieces.
  • My elder brother U Sein Htoon (M63, Past Captain and RUBC Gold) gave me a Portable Chess set that he bought during his trip to Colombo, Ceylon to compete in the 1960 ARAE Annual Regatta. He coxed the winning team with U Tin Htoon (A60, Stroke), Sunny Teng (left BIT for abroad), Victor Htun Shein (BAF pilot, GBNF) and Dr. Harry Saing (Pediatric Surgeon and multiple athlete, GBNF).

Chess Literature

Most Chess experts have Chess books specializing in

  • Opening
  • Middle
  • End game.

Some also read Chess Puzzles (e.g. White mates in xxx moves, where xxx is typically two or three) and Chess Columns (e.g. analysis of Chess games).

I do not have the patience to study the Chess Literature.

RIT Chess

Ko Aung Than (EE69er) spent time with Chess and Cards more than classes and had to leave RIT before graduation. He co-founded the RIT Chess Club with Ko Maung Maung, Ko Thet Lwin (Henry) and the visiting Soviet lecturers.


I am an amateur historian.

Although I stopped playing chess regularly, I followed the “History of Computer Chess”. Professor Don Michie (Machine Intelligence researcher at the University of Edinburgh) and David Levy (Computer Programmer and Chess Master) had a friendly wager. David Levy bet a year’s wage if a computer chess program could beat him within a decade.

Luckily, David Levy won the bet.

Deep Thought (at CMU)

It took more than a decade before a computer could beat a reasonably good Chess player. It took several more decades before “Deep Thought” (developed at Carnegie Mellon University by a designer of special purpose chip for multi-layer pruning and with the help of four other Ph.D. students for Chess and programming expertise) outclassed Chess playing machines.

Deep Blue (at IBM)

IBM hired three of them (after graduation) to work on “Deep Blue” with the help of Grand Masters to beat Gary Kasparov (then World Champion). It succeeded on the second attempt. Kasparov made a slight mistake, and “Deep Blue” relentlessly attacked and won. IBM “retired” Deep Blue.


The hardware and software technology used for Deep Blue were enhanced to develop Watson (and its relatives) for competing in Jeopardy (TV game) and for assisting medical doctors in training and diagnosis.

At one period, almost every IBM project was related to Watson.


CHM (Computer History Museum) had an exhibit on the History of Computer Chess.

I attended a panel discussion on ‘Computer Chess”. The panelists include

  • Member[s] of Deep Blue
  • Monty Newborn (Organizer of ACM tournaments for Computer Chess)
  • Professor Edward Feigenbaum (Stanford University, Pioneer in Computer Expert Systems)

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