Simul Stories from Singapore
In simultaneous exhibitions, it is usually not common for strong masters to sit across the board to face the simul master. After all, the simul master will have his hands full fending off the many boards, let alone deal with someone he would already have problems with one to one.
Hence, I thought it would be quite a challenge for Magnus Carlsen to take on Chess.com's 8 qualifiers plus one selected player, one celeb, Rainn Wilson and one chesskid.com representative. Among the 8 qualifiers were 2 IMs, Andrew Tang and Kacper Drozdowski. In my World Mindgames Rd 3 matches with Kacper, I lost 5 and won 2, so I was very clear about his playing strength. Definitely not a pushover, the ELO 2472 rated Polish IM.
It has come to pass that Magnus triumphed 10-1, losing only to CM Stepan Osinovsky. The consensus was that Magnus applied the incredible strategy of blitzing his opponents, spending not more than mere seconds on each move versus any opponent, putting them under tremendous pressure. This is a rather radical approach. I'm not sure if he can achieve a wipeout had he applied his time more judiciously but 10-1 in a field of 4 masters is pretty scary.
In 1995, I was part of a group of simul givers where we faced 20 players in a fund raising activity in the Concourse. Among the 20 players IM Hsu Li Yang, FM Wong Foong Yin and your scribe had to face were top juniors like Justin Kueh, Chua Han Wei and Lau Keng Boon. The last chap is particularly strong, already ELO 2105 and the National U16 Champion. Foong Yin and I beat all the rest of the 19 but lost to Lau. But, in the final simul, IM Hsu Li Yang concentrated his efforts on Lau and beat him convincingly, and in a marvellous gesture, gave draws to three delighted participants!
When Kasparov gave a Singapore simul in 2010, many top juniors showed up to play this once in a lifetime match against 'The Boss'. However, there was some apprehension when CM Tan Weiliang (ELO 2267) sat across the board. The Boss often requests that players ELO 2000 and above not be included in simuls. However, in this particular one, apart from Weiliang, Malaysia's top junior, Yeoh Li Tian (ELO 2139) was among the participants. After the organizers had some words with Kasparov, the latter relented to let the junior champions play. Just before the match, Kasparov had some words with Georgian GM Zurab Azmaiparashvilli, looked in Weiliang's direction and then started the game. And what a positional masterpiece the Boss produced!
However, the most radical simul story occured today. GM Zhang Zhong and FM Tin Jingyao held a simultaneous exhibition in United Square, Novena, Singapore and many interested parties took on Singapore's top player ELO 2614 rated Zhang Zhong. FM Tin only had 9 opponents. However, one of them was a very wilful IM Terry Toh (!) who at ELO 2419, outrated Jingyao by 64 points! When I arrived at the venue 25 minutes into the simul, Jingyao had already disposed of 7 opponents and apart from his game against Terry, one other chap was already a few pawns down and could resign with dignity.
So it was down to a one to one match. See for yourself what happened!
Hope you have enjoyed the simul stories from Singapore!