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The Greatest Chess Simul Victory Ever? - Nimzowitsch vs. Baron Ungern-Sternberg

The Greatest Chess Simul Victory Ever? - Nimzowitsch vs. Baron Ungern-Sternberg

SamCopeland
| 20

Simultaneous exhibitions hold a special place in chess history and lore. The ability for the world's greatest masters to take on dozens and even hundreds of opponents at a single time, sometimes even while blindfolded, is a spectacular skill that dazzles both chess and non-chess players alike.

A common joke among chess players is to say that you've played some huge number of players blindfold simultaneously and then after the crowd is suitably impressed, say that you lost all the games. Hardy-har-har Of course, masters typically score much better than 0% - often winning quickly and very decisively, but sometimes the amateur scores the coveted point or half-point. In rare cases, the amateur may manage a brilliant win. Nimzowitsch vs. Kurt Adolf Benjamin von Ungern-Sternberg is just such a spectacular victory. The Baron commits himself to a kingside assault early on, and Nimzowitsch almost seems to be egging him, playing too passively in a demonstration of the hypermodern strategic ideas which he would more fully develop in the future. The Baron finds a strong knight sacrifice, but then he follows it up incorrectly, setting up a queen sacrifice that Nimzowitsch should have declined but found himself unable to resist. The finish is tremendously pleasing and features many excellent lines and moves, and the Barong analyzed the critical lines excellently, and his analysis largely holds up to modern engine scrutiny.

Kurt Adolf Benjamin von Ungern-Sternberg. Photo: geni.com

Baron Ungern-Sternberg actually has the best simul win rate I've ever seen. He only has three games in the database at chessgames.com. This is one of the games and another is a win over Capablanca. Wow!

It's important not to confuse Kurt Adolf Benjamin von Ungern-Sternberg with the more famous Nikolai Robert Maximilian Freiherr von Ungern-Sternberg—both were known as Baron Ungern-Sternberg. The other Baron's Wikipedia page is one hell of a read, outlining his life as an anti-communist Russian general and devout fundamentalist Buddhist who conquered Mongolia in the name of the Bogd Khan before being defeated, captured, and executed during the Russian Civil War. Truth is stranger than fiction...

Top 10 Games of the 1910s

Annotations include selected comments both from Nimzowitsch and Baron Ungern-Sternberg as shown in Skoldager and Nielsen's excellent biography, "Aron Nimzowitsch - On the Road to Chess Mastery" [Affiliate link supports the content.].

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