Thursday 25 January 2024

Bacon, Morphy, Erdos

 I saw a recent article concerning the mathematician Paul Erdos. A prolific collaborator and publisher, he was probably the first subject of the 'n degrees of separation' game, which was more popularly attached to the actor Kevin Bacon.

In the world of chess there is also the concept of the Morphy number, where you trace the number of steps back to Paul Morphy, through a chain of opponents. Surprisingly, my Morphy number seems higher than either my Erdos or Bacon numbers, although the distance in time may account for this.

My Erdos number is 4, having collaborated on a paper with someone whose Erdos number was 3. My Bacon number (probably 4) is somewhat tenuous, as I worked on an amateur film with the Australian actor Joseph Clements (we we 12 years old at the time!, and I don't believe it was ever completed or shown). But my Morphy number appears to be 5, via GM Ian Rogers who has a Morphy number of 4, at least the last time I checked. Of course there may be other paths that I am not aware of, but I'm happy enough with 5.

1 comment:

Kevin Bonham said...

MN4s have been reasonably common in Australia (older players often played CJS Purdy, Steiner, Sulik or simuls against Euwe or Smyslov, Hamilton played Reshevsky, and a path for some not so old players is Bob Wade when he played in NZ). I've played at least ten MN4s. One other path to MN5 you would have would be the late Mos Ali, who played Wade and was therefore MN4. Many of us who go to FIDE Congresses have met a living MN3 (Reuben) but I haven't ever played one to my knowledge.