Skip to main content

Astrological Links Between Chess Grandmasters and Great Earthquakes

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 dropout. 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 magnitudes 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.

GrandmasterDate of BirthBirth 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.

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 latter two had theirs in the middle degrees of Sagittarius. But these two Capricorns 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.

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 four 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.

ChessmasterDate of BirthBirth 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 five players on this list are presently the 14th, 33rd, 35th, 6th, and 31st best players in the world, respectively.

ChessmasterDate of BirthBirth 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 on 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.

ChessmasterDate of BirthBirth 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 the 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).

ChessmasterDate of BirthBirth 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.

ChessmasterDate of BirthBirth 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

Summing It All Up

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 chessboard 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 one's 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 there 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 ELO 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 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 to 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.

Case Studies of Two Prominent Serial Killers

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2016 Joseph Ritrovato