Sights and Sounds of the WR Simul - Part 1
As the day grew closer, the tightness in my stomach grew to the point where I felt like I had 500 pounds sitting on my chest. The night before the World Record Simul attempt by IM Dean Ippolito, I was like a hyena on cocaine stuck in a cage at the zoo. I was pacing, racing, tossing and turning as the hour grew closer. Almost every other hour I was awake in bed and looking at the clock. Donna and I made plans to leave by 8 AM to be able to get to Raritan, N.J., the site of the simul, early enough to be able to talk to Dean and interview some players we knew were going to be there. Armed with a new blue shirt, a digital voice recorder, Donna's digital camera, notebooks, pencils and my brand new black Chess.com hat, by 8:15 we finally got on the road heading towards history in the making.
It wasn't just history for Dean, it was also history to us as well. This was the first time Donna and I have ever been to a chess event, let alone one that might be sitting in the record books for all eternity (or at least until it was broken). It was all new territory for us and we didn't know what to expect, we just knew it was going to be fun to witness.
We got down there around 9:30 AM and once we parked, I whooshed open the car door and starting my pacing again. There were only a few cars that we noticed parked in the lot, and Donna even said there's not that many cars here. We walked into St. Ann's School and followed the "cafeteria" signs downstairs and opened the double doors. We were walking into history in the making.
Donna found Dean's wife Dawn, and introductions were made all around. There were many lunch tables set up with steel chairs at every board setting. The tables made aisles for Dean to walk up and down through and over 100 chess sets were set up. The boards were heavy paper and custom made just for this event with logos all around the corners of the board. I would later find out during the announcements by Dean and Dawn that each player got to keep the board and pieces that they were using, plus Dean would sign the board too in a red Sharpy marker. I knew right then, even though I wasn't playing, I had to get a board signed, and Donna took care of that later on, which we will get to at some point.
We started interviewing some people, kids at first, and had them or their parents sign a release form that Donna created for permission for pictures, quotes or recordings to be used in the post-Simul article we will be writing for Chess.com later this week.
I noticed towards the direction of the concessions that NM James West was talking to a group of guys. I messaged him the day before telling him that Donna and I would be down there to get interviews and thoughts from the people that will be participating We also learned that one of the guys he was talking to was Atomic Patzer (Tom), an internet chess blogger that I have heard about on my time at Chess.com. Donna and I interviewed them both and had a great time talking to each of them and we got pictures of them as well, which will be inserted in the article.
During this time, Dean walked in, caught up with his wife and once we were done talking to Jim and Tom, we went over and introduced ourselves to Dean and got some pictures together with him which will also be posted in the article. Then we left him to get ready, which he really already was, and at about 10:30, the players sat down at their respective tables and the announcements by Dean and Dawn were made. The highest rated players would be seeded at the top boards and the lowest ranked at the last. There were 15 Experts/Masters there because of the maximum rating cap (1800 USCF) being removed so Dean could get more people to play.
We were all ready to be treated to a great experience, but there is a lot more to talk about, but not in this entry. I am going to continue this in my next blog which will be posted a few days from now. I don't want to make one mammoth blog that's going to take hours out of someone's life to read. So stay tuned to Part 2 and keep your scope locked to Chess.com for all of your chess needs.
Thank you all for reading Part 1.