FOM: Chess quibble

Julio Gonzalez Cabillon jgc at
Thu Jan 22 13:27:21 EST 1998

>Shipman wrote 9:14AM 1/22/98:
>>everyone with a rating equivalent to 1600 Elo points or higher;
>>there are hundreds of thousands if not millions of such players

And at 10:40 AM 22/01/1998 +0100, Harvey Friedman wrote:

>I think "millions" is wrong. This is just a silly quibble, but may
>illustrate how easy it is to overestimate the masses when you (Shipman)
>are at such a high level. By the way, I "retired" from correspondence
>chess with a provisional rating of 2090 based on 11 wins and 1 draw. If
>I come back to chess, it will in the role of a mathematical investigator.

As you know chess was *extremely* popular in the ex Soviet Union, and
still IS in the new Republics... Therefore, I do NOT think Shipman's
educated guess is wrong. A rating equivalent to 1600 Elo points, for
instance, is a very *low* rating indeed, and I would be very surprised
if one cannot find "hundreds of thousands if not millions" of such
players just taking *certain* countries of Eurasia (just think, for
instance, that chess is taught as a subject matter at school in many of
them). Any boy/girl with a basic training (say, school classes) would
*easily* reach 1600 Elo points, and even higher. Do not expect me to
provide conclusive data, nor a formal proof of Shipman's conjecture.


On Sun, 21 Dec 1997 23:56:17 -0800 (PST) Sol Feferman wrote:

       > I plan to answer Gonzalez Cabillon about Wigner's wonder at
       > the "unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics" separately.

For about a month I was away from the computer, and so I have not been
following the new threads. Anyhow, I do not find Feferman's reply. Should I?
And, in a quick lookup of postings related to the nature of mathematics,
I do not encounter the Wigner's dilemma as a real challenge to Hersh's
position. I think Reuben will agree with this philosophical challenge.
Any comments?

Greetings to all from sunny Montevideo,
                                            Julio GC

Julio Gonzalez Cabillon
Professor of Mathematics
jgc at, jgc at
Montevideo -- URUGUAY
Research interests: History of Mathematics,
Foundations of Mathematics, Philosophy of
Mathematics, Discrete Mathematics.

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