David Smerdon: Duchamp's Opposition

Marcel Duchamp, who was himself an accomplished chess player, co-authored a book, Opposition and Sister Squares Reconciled, in 1932 on certain positions that arise in chess endgames when it is bad not good to have the move, and this idea of “opposition” was to play a considerable role in his art.

Chess master David Smerdon, after studying psychology and mathematics at university, became a behavioural economist who applies statistical methods to social questions. Amongst his papers are “The best (and worst) countries to be a female chess player” and “Understanding gender stereotypes in competitive environments,” on the historically low participation rate of women in chess, and “It matters if you’re black or white: Evidence of the stereotype threat among chess players,” on the role racial stereotyping plays in chess performance.

David Smerdon became a chess grandmaster in 2009 and has played for Australia in seven chess Olympiads. At the 2016 Chess Olympiad, he drew a game against one of the best chess players ever, world champion Magnus Carlsen, while on first board for the Australian team. He has a web page, and an interview with him after drawing with Carlsen can be found online here

The authors and Artlink are extremely grateful to David for his generosity in making this video to accompany the essay “Duchamp and Australia: In Opposition.”