Russian Theologian, Philosopher, and Essayist. Born 1634, died 1681, one year to the day prior to the ascent of Peter the Great to the Russian throne. Spent most of his years living with the Russian tsarist family, the Romanovs.

Mandelstahm was a quiet contemplator who spent most of his time maintaining one of the many royal libraries decreed by the first Romanov, Michael Fedorovich Romanov, in 1636, in the same decree that ordered the incineration of all musical instruments in the empire. Mandelstahm contributed to the writing and production of the Synopsis, the first textbook of Russian history. He was an avid reader and preferred to be rarely disturbed. However, he would nightly visit with members of the Royal family and their court, taking wines and absinthes with the beautiful women who were brought to the palace as slaves. Mandelstahm wrote prolificly and although we have no accurate record of the extent of his texts and manuscripts their confirmed number is in excess of twenty. The Romanov family employed a team of between two and fifteen copyists that were constantly employed in the reproduction of Mandelstahm's texts, despite the ready availability of printing presses under royal control. The fact that Mandelstahm (or the Romanovs) did not want his works reprinted on a press is to this day unexplained. Of the texts of which we are aware, Mandelstahm wrote a number of treatises on God, Scripture, Bible interpretation, Scholastic philosophy, Abraham and Job as well as a number of essays on contemporary Russian politics and the fashions of the royal court members (the latter essays were almost similar in their form to the gossip columns of today's grocery store newspapers).

In his rare and famous manuscript God's Thinking, Mandelstahm authored his little-known proof of the existence of God. The text displays a keen understanding of the work of the Western philosophers Rene Descartes and Baruch Spinoza, who also sought to proffer reasons for believing in God's reality. Mandelstahm does not find their proofs of God's existence all that convincing, and he particularly thrashes Descartes in writing that, "His proof of God's existence would not even convince a child with the barest of critical faculties. His most basic error is denying that God is not a feature to be apprehended, but a faith in which to believe." Mandelstahm's own 'proof' of God's existence does not appear to be a rational argument, and so, by current standards, is not a formal proof. Instead, Mandelstahm only seeks to relieve the doubt which may lead a seeker to inquire into God's existence in the first place. In this way, Mandelstahm approaches in important ways, the later American pragmatism of Charles Sanders Pierce and William James.

Mandelstahm is also the supposed author of a mysterious text on astronomy and God, the Codex Dei Omnibus, which some claim is a divine text, others a hoax, and still others apocryphal literature illegitimately attributed to the Russian theologian.

There is a famous story regarding Mandelstahm's devotion to the royal blood of his country. It begins with a chance encounter on the streets of Moscow. Mandelstahm purpotedly saw turning a corner almost two blocks away Grigorii Kotoshikhin, a diplomat who was suspected of being a spy on the royal family. Upon seeing Kotoshikhin, Mandelstahm is said to have chased after him for four blocks. He then confronted him, short of breath no doubt, regarding accusations that he was treading on the empire. Kotoshikhin denied the accusations whereby Mandelstahm challenged him to a game of chess to settle the dispute. Mandelstahm proposed the conditions of win and loss. Should he lose the game, Kotoshikhin would desert his post as an oficial in the department of foreign affaris and exile himself from Muscovy. Should he lose, Mandelstahm would submit himself to a decapitation by Kotoshikhin's own hand! The wager was remarkable as Mandelstahm well knew his opponent's renowned understanding of the royal game. Mandelstahm himself hardly knew the moves. The gravity of his wager is a testament to Mandlestahm's loyalty to the Romanovs as well as his faith in God's providence. The conditions of the game stipulated that each player should make one move every other day, their moves to be made on alternating days. The board would be kept at a pub nearby the place of their encounter, the proprietor of which both players trusted. So that each player could not consult secretly with advisors in between moves, each player would sleep at the pub in the hotel rooms upstairs. The hotel would have no other guests at that time, and the innkeeper's two sons (both strong men of two hundred and eighty pounds each) would stand watch over their locked doors at night. In exchange for a favorable sum, the innkeeper's wife would provide them with four delicious meals a day. The final rule agreed upon was that the game would begin in thirty days.

In the meantime, accusations of Kotoshikhin's betrayal of the Romanovs grew more and more serious. Then tsar of Russia, Alex Mikhailovich Romanov, a personal friend of Mandelstahm's, hired all manner of advisors and tutors in preparation for the game. Should Mandelstahm win, Kotoshikhin could quickly be ousted. By day, Mandelstahm studied in a secret crypt in the cellar of an unwhisperable location. By night, he drank vodkas and was lavished by a royal court of lovers. One day prior to the game it was determined that Mandelstahm would handle the white pieces.

The game started and events off the board were rather unremarkable. Mandelstahm played the risky King's Gambit as white and Kotoshikhin accepted the free pawn. The game progressed evenly, with many mistakes by today's standards, for a number of moves. Finally, on the twenty-third move, Mandelstahm obtained a win with a brilliant forced mating combination after a classic oversight by his opponent. On the forty-sixth night, Kotoshikhin contemplated the hopelessness of his position. He secretly fled in the night. His family never saw him again. He wrote for them from Sweden, where he remained in exile for the remainder of his life.

Here is the complete text of that historic game in standard algebraic notation:
  1. e4 e5
  2. f4 exf4
  3. Nf3 c6
  4. d4 d5
  5. exd5 Qxd5
  6. b3 Nd7
  7. Bc4 Qa5+
  8. Bd2 Qc7
  9. Qe2+ Be7
  10. Bb4 Ndf6
  11. O-O Nh6
  12. Nc3 Be6
  13. Bxe7 Qxe7
  14. a4 Bxc4
  15. Qxc4 O-O
  16. h3 Nd5
  17. Nxd5 cxd5
  18. Qxd5 Rad8
  19. Qc4 Qd6
  20. c3 Nf5
  21. Ne5 Rfe8
  22. Nxf7 Qc6
  23. Nh6+ {1-0, white wins}
The forced continuation is this: 24...Kh8, 25. Qg8+ Rxg8, 26. Nf7 checkmate (alternatively black could play 24...Kf8, 25. Qf7 checkmate). This is the classic smothered mate and, although the theme was not all that well known in the 17th century, Kotoshikhin must have cursed himself all the way to Sweden for having not realized, with a day's time to contemplate its possibility, Mandelstahm's brilliancy.

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