How geeky do you have to be to attend a mathematical meeting every 4 years - and think India in August is a cool place to do it?   Pretty geeky.   The ultimate geeks.

If that is you, we know where you will be August 2010, when the largest gathering of geeks ever will happen in Hyderabad.   It's the International Congress of Mathematicians, the biggest and most prestigious international mathematical meeting, which takes place once every four years. No meeting in any scientific discipline has the kind of wide sweep that ICMs have: every branch of mathematics is covered and emphasis is on the essential unity of all mathematics. 

To make sure this is the biggest geek festival ever, and that Hyderabad in August and six weeks of malaria pills is not a deterrent, the hosts are offering the delegates an opportunity to play against the World Chess Champion Vishy Anand.

Anand will play simultaneous chess against 40 opponents to be chosen from among the delegates to the ICM at Hyderabad.

As you might expect, there are many chess enthusiasts among mathematicians. Chess is considered the most cerebral of all games and thinking in Chess is very close to the way mathematicians think. Emanuel Lasker, the mathematician well known to algebraists for the “Lasker–Noether Theorem" was the world chess champion for 27 years (1894–1921).

The game of Chess is claimed by Indians to have originated in India in the sixth century. If so, it  was called Chaturanga, meaning four divisions (of the military): infantry, cavalry, elephants and chariots, in Sanskrit. The modern form of the game is somewhat different from the Indian version and heralds from Europe in the fifteenth century. 

Anand says he is a keen follower of developments in mathematics and science. One of his favorite books which he often refers to is Andrew Hodges's 'Inner Life of Numbers'.

Asked about the unique opportunity to play 40 brilliant mathematicians, Anand said, “Actually I am quite looking forward to attending the congress and maybe even hear some lectures. I enjoyed Simon Singh's book on Fermat's Last Theorem and I keep reading the book repeatedly. During the WC match in Sofia I would read this book, 'The book of Nothing' just before the game. In fact when I first became a Grandmaster, someone presented me the book, 'The Man who knew infinity', a biography of Ramanujan. I was intrigued by his natural genius. That was my first introduction to a mathematician. Both chess and mathematics are closely linked and lot of our methodology in problem solving are similar."