Simultaneous exhibitions

Simultaneous exhibitions are some of the many artful things that a chess grandmaster can do. The concept is quite simple: one strong chess player plays against a bunch of amateurs. This way, many people get to play strong chess players whom they wouldn’t play otherwise. In chess terminology, the term “simultaneous exhibitions” is often shortened to “simul”.

Coincidentally, I’ve noticed an interesting pattern: many world champions had beaten strong grandmasters in a simul when they were young. I have provided three examples of young champions playing strong grandmasters in simuls.

An eight-year-old Samuel Reshevsky giving a simultaneous display in Paris. (1920)

Let’s begin with a game between Mikhail Botvinnik and José Raul Capablanca, in which Botvinnik managed to beat “The Chess Machine” at the tender age of 14.

The second game was played by none other than Mikhail Tal. The “Magician from Riga” played this game at the age of 13. In the game, Tal chooses the very sharp Botvinnik System of the Semi-Slav – a bit out of character; he would usually stick to the King’s Indian Defence in his later career. After a successful opening for Black, young Misha seizes the opportunity and wins the game with a swift attack.

Lastly, let’s have a look at a game played by the legendary Garry Kasparov, who was able to obtain a draw against Viktor Korchnoi (who was no doubt one of the top 3 at the time). Garry even managed to obtain a winning position, but couldn’t quite convert it into a full point against “Viktor the Terrible”. He was 12 years old at the time. 

In conclusion, if any young boy or girl wins against a grandmaster in a simul game, we ought to watch out for them: they may one day become a grandmaster themselves!