Leon Chess Festival: How To Lose To A Super GM Quickly
A simul held by GM Leinier Dominguez Perez at the Leon Chess Festival gave me a chance to play my best game, but I blundered. Image:

Leon Chess Festival: How To Lose To A Super GM Quickly

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Playing against GM Leinier Dominguez Perez (@sebastian), ranked by FIDE as the number-16 player in the world with a rating of 2758, in a simultaneous exhibition, or simul, was an amazing experience—except that I lost quickly.

Game analysis
The game analysis tells the story succinctly: One mistake made all the difference (plus Dominguez played almost flawlessly).

The event was part of the Leon Chess Festival, played on during July 10-18. The simul was a special component of the festival, held for the 33rd time this year but online for the first time due to the coronavirus pandemic. The main events are a Masters tournament, an open blitz tournament, and a closed tournament with four rising stars of the chess world. (Dominguez won the Masters tournament over Spanish GMs Alexei Shirov and Jaime Santos and Iranian GM Parham Maghsoodloo.)

Dominguez's record in simul
Dominguez smiles slightly as the final game of the simul ends and he wins all but two games that are draws. Image: via YouTube.

In the simul, my downfall was leaving a knight hanging, and the GM snatched it immediately without any hesitation. After my blunder, Dominguez was on “cruise control” for the rest of the game as he simplified and worked his pieces in harmony to block any escape route for my king from an unfolding fatal attack. Because the outcome of the game was never in doubt after I lost my knight, I won’t bore you with the moves but will simply show how I set up the GM to enjoy the feast of an unprotected piece after my 11th move.

Hanging knight
My unprotected knight on c6 before it was brusquely captured.

The simul included several Spanish players who are members of the Team Spain club on Other players from around the world—Argentina, Belgium, Chile, Ecuador, France, Paraguay, Poland, Serbia, and U.S.—also participated, and generally they contended much more effectively in the simul than I did, although the GM completed the event undefeated with a 19.0-1.0 score (no losses, two draws). The highest-ranked opponent, César Pérez Dapoza (@DynamicPigeon with a rating of 2198), achieved one of the draws. More interesting than my game is his draw by repetition after 69 moves.

The format was 45 minutes for each player plus a 45-second increment after each move. I was the third of the 21 players in the simul to lose, and I resigned with an obvious mate imminent—a benefit of learning with Puzzles on is knowing when an endgame is collapsing. My losing position was displayed briefly on the Twitch/YouTube broadcast by en Español.

Losing position
My one second of fame on YouTube that shows my losing position when I resigned and gave Dominguez his third win. Image: via YouTube.

Before I resigned, my knight did fork his two rooks. (Don’t look at my inferior position. Just observe my happy knight.) 

Knight fork
Once in my life I sprung a knight fork on a GM (of course, he permitted it, but the beauty of the tactic overshadows the pending demise of my king).

Born in Havana and now affiliated with the U.S. federation, Dominguez has been performing above the 2700 level since 2008. I’m twice as old as Dominguez—he is more than 37 years younger than me—and he is at his peak. (I, unfortunately, hit my peak decades ago and have been watching my rating steadily decline.) Nevertheless, I’m still up for a good game; I just have to avoid blunders, which I make even when not playing a GM.

The simul was streamed on Twitch and recorded on YouTube.

Being able to say that I’ve played against such an elite grandmaster gives me bragging rights. If anyone now asks how I’m doing, I’m being completely honest when I say: Of all the games that I’ve played against a GM, I’ve lost just one. 

Thanks for reading. What are your comments? Have you ever played against a GM whose rating was higher than 2700?

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