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Astrological Links Between Chess Grandmasters and Great Earthquakes

Updated on August 27, 2017
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Has studied astrology/historical seismology since the late '70s in San Francisco. Published in the ISAR International Astrologer in 2012.

Mikhail Botvinnik, Russian World Champion, nicknamed "Iron Man", was perhaps the most disciplined player of chess.
Mikhail Botvinnik, Russian World Champion, nicknamed "Iron Man", was perhaps the most disciplined player of chess.

Chess is Like Life and Earthquakes are Like Grandmasters

On August 17, 1911, 150 miles east of the island of Palou, itself about 500 miles east of the Philippines, a shallow earthquake of 7.8 in magnitude occurred. It didn't do any damage as many quakes that size can do, if close enough to populated areas.

However, another monumental event happened on that day. Mikhail Botvinnik, one of the greatest chess grandmasters of all time, was born near Vyborg, Russia. He not only became world champion, but he retained the title after many challenges.

Chess once played a large role in my life during my early to late teen years. But, for the most part, I became a chess drop out. Although I had the ability to advance, I did not have the consuming need to do the hard work to reach the highest levels of that demanding game. Perhaps it is because I wasn't born with the same DNA or astrological inclinations that a serious player such as Botvinnik was born with.

An interest in astrology came later in my life, as my Army years came to an end and I relocated to San Francisco. Spending half of my life in that wonderful city, I learned to respect the power of earthquakes. I also became interested in trying to determine if there were possible links between astrology and earthquakes and, if so, would it be possible to prove that scientifically.

Researching that subject for years now, I believe that I have found many such links between the two. I now have decided to test the hypothesis that there are astrological aspects (angular relationships) between solar system objects that relate to both earthquakes of great size and the greatest of the chess grandmasters.

Astrological Investigation Into Chess Mastery

The time of Botvinnik's birth is not known to me, so I have used the positions of the solar system bodies for noon at the location of his birth. Looking at astrological factors that have been linked to earthquakes of the past, two factors stand out. One is that his moon was in Taurus (great earthquakes occur with the moon in that sign twice as often than would be expected based on the statistical average). The other is that the midpoint between the positions of the planets Mercury and Saturn (as seen from earth) were no more than 48' (or 0.8 degrees of arc) from exact of an angle of 1/11th of a circle to the position of our sun.

This grouping has been found to relate to earthquakes of at least 6.5 magnitude in size, including the great San Francisco earthquake and fire of 18 April 1906. The following GMs (with an ELO rating of at least 2710) were also born when this astrological aspect group came into play. The GMs listed with an asterisk achieved the title of world champion. The last GM so listed is also the present world champion and the highest ranking player in the world.

Date of Birth
Birth Location
Lionel Kieseritzky
1 January 1806
Tartu, Estonia
Amos Burn
31 December 1848
Hull, England
Mikhail Botvinnik *
17 August 1911
Repino, Russia
Lev Polugaevsky
20 November 1934
Mogilev, Russia
Alexander Beliavsky
17 December 1953
Lvov, Ukraine
Magnus Carlsen *
30 November 1990
Tonsberg, Norway
Current world champion of chess, grandmaster Magnus Carlsen has been called "The Mozart of Chess" but "Destroyer" might be more apt.
Current world champion of chess, grandmaster Magnus Carlsen has been called "The Mozart of Chess" but "Destroyer" might be more apt.

Common Astrological Links Between Chess Greats

Interestingly, grandmaster Carlsen, like Botvinnik, also has his moon in the sign of Taurus. Not only that but, since the birth time is known for Carlsen's astrological chart, the position of his moon is in a degree that comes up the most for all significant seismic events that have the moon in that sign at the time of their occurrence.

Also of possible interest is that of the top 8 chess grandmasters in the world, 3 of them have their sun in the sign of Sagittarius (Magnus Carlsen, the current world chess champion; Hikaru Nakamura, the 6th strongest in the world and the top player in the United States; and Viswanathan Anand, presently the 8th ranked player in the world and a prior world chess champion). Another 3 GMs have their sun in the sign of Libra (Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, the 2nd strongest player in the world; Levon Aronian, the top Armenian player who is the 5th strongest player in the world; and Wesley So, born in the Philippines and representing the U.S., is presently the 7th strongest player in the world and likely to soon be a contender for the world title). The other two GMs among the top 8 are the 3rd and 4th best players in the world, Vladimir Kramnik (a Cancer) and Fabiano Caruana (a Leo).

Another interesting side note is that two great chess grandmasters, the late great Emanuel Lasker (world champion for 27 years) and Richard Teichman, were not only both born in Germany, but on the same day and year (24 December 1868). Two currently active GMs, Ernestio Inarkiev (born in Kyrgystan and ranked 33rd in the world) and Bu Xiangzhi (born in China and ranked 35th in the world) have birth dates of 9 December 1985 and 10 December 1985, respectively. Interestingly, all these GMs had their births in December, although the first two had their sun in the early degrees of Capricorn, while the later two had theirs in the middle degrees of Sagitarius. But these two Capricorn's at least had Mercury in the sign of Sagittarius at the time of their birth.

Mercury played a role in the aspect group that both Botvinnik and Carlsen shared, and Mercury is a common thread when looking at other aspect groups that are a factor in both earthquakes and chess grandmasters. In doing my research to find the top such groups, I discovered that the 6th best player in the world and 2nd in the world for blitz chess (and also #1 in the United States, off and on, for 4 out of the past 12 years), possesses five of the top six aspect groups that chess players share in common with earthquakes. He was also born in Japan, a nation that is perhaps the most seismically active country on the planet.

The primary example of how chess greats are like earthquakes was born in Japan and is often the #1 U.S. player.
The primary example of how chess greats are like earthquakes was born in Japan and is often the #1 U.S. player.

Nakamura's Five Earthquake Related Aspect Groups

This first most significant aspect group has the strongest link between both earthquakes and chess grandmasters. It involves the Sun at 1/16th of a circle (22.5 degrees) from the midpoint of the planets Mercury and Mars (all as seen from the earth). Of the many earthquakes associated with this aspect grouping, the most prominent is the largest seismic event ever recorded (magnitude 9.5) which occurred in Chile on 22 May 1960 (and caused thousands to perish). The list of Grandmasters with an ELO rating of at least 2730, who were born at the time when this astrological aspect was in effect are listed below. The last 4 players on this list are the 20th, 6th, 7th, and 9th best players in the world at the moment (respectively). The GM with an “*” was a world champion.

Date of Birth
Birth Location
Dr. Reuben Fine
11 October 1914
New York City
Svetozar Gligoric
2 February 1923
Belgrade, Yugoslavia
Tigran Petrosian *
17 June 1929
Tibilisi, Russia
Rafael Vaganian
15 October 1951
Erevan, Armenia
Valery Salov
26 May 1964
Leningrad, Russia
Alexei Shirov
4 July 1972
Riga, Latvia
David Navara
27 March 1985
Prague, Czech Republic
Hikaru Nakamura
9 December 1987
Hirakata, Japan
Wesley So
9 October 1993
Las Pinas, Philippines
Anish Giri
28 June 1994
St. Petersburg, Russia

The second strongest grouping of aspects involves Mercury at the midpoint between the planets of Mars and Neptune (all as seen from the earth). Of the earthquakes associated with this grouping of aspects, the most prominent is that of the Kamchatka earthquake of 4 November 1952 (an event perhaps as large as 9.0 in magnitude). The chess greats represented by this grouping (with an ELO rating of at least 2680) are listed below. The last 5 players on this list are presently the 14th, 33rd, 35th, 6th, and 31st best players in the world respectively.

Date of Birth
Birth Location
Szymon Winawer
5 March 1838
Warsaw, Poland
Andor Lilienthal
5 May 1911
Moscow, Russia
Alexander Grischuk
31 October 1983
Moscow, Russia
Ernesto Inarkiev
9 December 1985
Osh, Kyrgyztan
Bu Xiangzhi
10 December 1985
Qingdao, China
Hikaru Nakamura
9 December 1987
Hirakata, Japan
Le Quang Liem
13 March 1991
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

The next strong grouping that will be discussed here involves the Sun at 45 minutes (0.75 degrees) from the midpoint of the planets Mercury and Uranus (all as seen from the earth). Of the earthquakes that occurred during the formation of this aspect grouping, one that stands out is the magnitude 8.0 event in Japan of 27 October 1891, which resulted in over 7,000 casualties. The GMs (with an ELO rating of at least 2680) associated with this aspect are listed below.

Date of Birth
Birth Location
Louis Paulsen
15 January 1833
Nassengrund, Germany
Wolfgang Uhlmann
29 March 1935
Dresden, Germany
Leonid Yudasin
8 August 1959
Leningrad, Russia
Hikaru Nakamura
9 December 1987
Hirakata, Japan

Another astrological aspect that came into play during this last earthquake, as well as at the time of birth of GM Nakamura, involves the two asteroids Ceres and Pallas, both in a 22.5 degree aspect (1/16th of a circle). This aspect is the strongest of any involving asteroids that relate to either earthquakes or chess GMs. It is also nearly tied in strength with the second listed aspect group given in this article (which did not involve asteroids). Other GMs (with an ELO rating of at least 2704) who were born under this aspect are listed below. The GM with the asterisk was world champion with the last 3 GMs presently representing the 8th, 5th, and 6th best players in the world (respectively).

Date of Birth
Birth Location
Frank Marshall
10 August 1877
New York City
Miguel Najdorf
15 April 1910
Warsaw, Poland
David Bronstein
19 February 1924
Bila, Ukraine
Boris Gulko
9 February 1947
Erfurt, Germany
Viswanathan Anand *
11 December 1969
Mayiladuthurai, India
Levon Aronian
6 October 1982
Yerevan, Armenia
Hikaru Nakamura
9 December 1987
Hirakata, Japan

The last aspect to be examined involves the planet Uranus, opposed to the asteroid Chiron (as viewed from the earth). A seismic event associated with this aspect was the Mexican earthquake of 19 September 1985, which caused at least 10,000 fatalities. GMs (having an ELO rating of at least 2717) with this aspect present at the time of their births are listed below. The GM with an asterisk was a world champion and is presently the 3rd best player in the world. Following him on the list are the 27th and 6th best players in the world.

This last aspect comes into play, off and on, for many decades, reflecting both earthquakes and, even more so, chess grandmasters, and then being absent from celestial influences for many decades. The last active period was from 1951 to 1990, paralleling the birth of both great earthquakes and exceptional chess GMs. Since 1991, this aspect has not come into play, and will not do so again until the year 2095.

Date of Birth
Birth Location
Jonathan Speelman
2 October 1956
Vienna, Austria
Alexander Khalifman
18 January 1966
Leningrad, Russia
Vassily Ivanchuk
18 March 1969
Kopychyntsi, Ukraine
Gata Kamsky
2 June 1974
Novokuznetsk, Russia
Vladimir Kramnik *
25 June 1975
Tuapse, Russia
Evgeny Tomashevsky
1 July 1987
Saratov, Russia
Hikaru Nakamura
9 December 1987
Hirakata, Japan


Looking back on all the astrological aspects that relate to both earthquakes and the best of the chess grandmasters, the order of the most influential solar system objects that appear to play a role (from most to least) would be first Mercury, then the Sun, followed by Mars, then Uranus, Neptune, Saturn, Chiron, Ceres, and Pallas (the last three being asteroids).

Focusing our attention on Hikaru Nakamura, or the key player over the chess board in relation to these earth shaking astrological aspects, what does all this mean for his future as a chess player? The evidence presented here would strongly suggest that he could be a world champion in the near future. Among all the past and present grandmasters who have been influenced by key seismically linked astrological aspect groups, he tops the list hands down.

The only aspect not a factor in his chart is the key group in Botvinnik's and Carlsen's charts. That aspect, unlike all the others involves the planet Saturn. What Saturn represents astrologically is dedication, determination, and hard work which are often necessary to get the most out of ones inherent talents and rise to the top in any chosen profession. Will he have the discipline necessary to bring order out of his many chaotic yet creative forces? That may be the key to his greatest success, to become champion of the world.

End Notes

Besides looking at any possible link between great earthquakes and Grandmasters of chess, two other studies were done on the possibility of their being astrological links between the birth charts of serial killers and event charts for significant earthquakes. What was discovered was that there appears to be a stronger relationship to deadly earthquakes for the serial killers than for the Grandmasters of chess.

There was one noteworthy exception however. One aspect that relates to very large earthquakes for both the grandmasters and the serial killers involves Pluto, formerly known as a planet, positioned 105 degrees from the midpoint between our Sun and Mercury (as seen from the earth).

This aspect actually relates less to habitual murderers and more to chess geniuses, including several noteworthy players born in the former Soviet Union. The most prominent was Mikhail Tal, born in Riga, Latvia on 9 November 1936 (peak EL0 rating of 2786). He was World Champion from 1960-1961, a true genius of the game, and perhaps the best attacking player ever. Another very prominent player with this aspect was Leonid Stein, born in the Ukraine on 12 November 1934 (peak ELO rating of 2745). Also a strong player coming under this aspect was Evgeniy Najer, born in Moscow, Russia on 22 June 1977 (peak ELO rating of 2706). Interestingly, a noteworthy seismic event of magnitude 8.0 in size occurred on that date in the Tonga region of the south Pacific (although, as of 19 August 2017, the USGS lists it with their original estimate of M6.8). This particular grouping of solar system objects was just 4 minutes from exact at the time of one of the largest earthquakes ever; an 8.7 magnitude event in the Philippines on 21 September 1897 (among the 18 largest earthquakes since the year 1700).

Another aspect that relates strongly in the birth charts of both chess GMs and serial killers has the Sun at one degree from the midpoint of the planets Venus and Mars. A Great earthquake, one of the top 14 since the year 1700, occurred at the time of this aspect on 29 October 1746 in Peru (with an estimated magnitude of 8.8). It is also worth noting that, shortly following the birth of a very strong modern GM from China, Yangyi Yu, born on 8 June 1994, there was an 8.2 magnitude quake in Bolivia (occurring at 0033 UT on 9 June 1994). A well known historical GM, Szymon Winawer, born in Poland on 5 or 6 March 1838, who had several opening lines in chess named after him, also had this aspect in his chart.

Unfortunately for Hikaru Nakamura, these powerful aspects are not part of the makeup of his birth chart. It is fortunate however, that none of his chief rivals (with the possible exception of Yu) has this angular relationship within their charts either.

There are two very prominent serial killers that came under the influence of both of these aspects also. They were Ted Bundy and Richard Cottingham. They are the subject of one of my articles published here on Exemplore. You can find it at the following link..

© 2016 Joseph Ritrovato


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