Former chess champ to entertain 'space travelers'

Volunteers who will isolate themselves from the outside world for 520 days as part of the Mars-500 experiment will wind down playing chess with former world champ Anatoly Karpov.

The purpose of the Mars-500 project, to be held at the Institute of Medico-Biological Problems in Moscow, is to gain practical experience in preparation for man's real flight to Mars.

Last week, eleven contenders for crew membership from Russia, France, Belgium, Italy, and China launched preparation for the simulated flight.

The scientific program, consisting of 95 experiments, comprises clinical, laboratory and diagnostic, physiological, sanitary and hygienic, microbiological, and operations and technological research.

Playing chess is meant to sidetrack the crew’s attention from their everyday routine.

"During the isolation, within the framework of psychological support for the crew, a chess tournament is to be held between world ex-champion Anatoly Karpov and the crew that will engage in Mars-bound flight training," read a statement by the Institute of Medico-Biological Problems.

Karpov has already delivered a general lecture about chess at the institute, and now plans to arrange a simultaneous chess display with the crew.

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