Bernard Parham: Creator of the Matrix System

With the current craze of the movie, "Matrix Reloaded" there is much to be said about the movie's emphasis on algorithms, mathematics, artificial intelligence and physics. While studying vector analysis and physics at Purdue University, long-time Indiana Master Bernard Parham (below) discovered a relationship between these higher sciences and chess. In 1965, he developed his "Matrix" System which is based on the understanding  of geometric patterns and vectors on the 8X8 matrix.

The Matrix Notation System. Bernard Parham vs. Dmitri Weiss
Bernard Parham teaching his Chess Matrix System

Does Parham's system allow one to defy the laws gravity and fly through the air inside a chess computer program? Of course not, but Parham has used his unorthodox teaching methods with great effect, winning the 1967 Indiana State Championship. The core of Parham's "Matrix Attack" system is the geometric attack of 1.e4 and 2.Qh5!? This sequence of moves violates all accepted opening principles of chess, but Parham is winning converts including the opponents he has defeated.

Another component of the Matrix Notation Systemô is a rather ingenious attempt to maintain the geometric orientation of the 8X8 chess board matrix. Each piece is represented by its geometric movement as opposed to a letter. This also makes the game score easier to follow without the sight of a board.

On 11 October 1995, Parham received a letter from the
United States Chess Federation approving the use of the Matrix Notation in U.S. tournaments.  Whether this notation system will gain wider practical use for illustrating chess positions remains to be seen; however, its inventiveness is admirable and Parham is to be commended for his revolutionary effort at teaching one aspect of  chess science.

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The Chess Drum, "Indiana Jones Meets 'The Matrix!"  22 April 2002.

Chess Academy Parham (e-mail)


Posted by The Chess Drum: 2 June 2003