On January 26, I had a chance to do something I thought impossible for me.
With “Mr. G.”, a well-known teacher of Chess, Mathematics and Music in the San Francisco Bay Area, I gave a leapfrog (tandem) simultaneous chess exhibition against 50 opponents at Quinlan Community Center, Cupertino, California. In leapfrog chess, two (or more) people play against several people simultaneously, alternating moves without consulting. In this exhibition, we played White on all boards, I making the odd-numbered (1, 3, 5, …) moves and Mr. G. making the even-numbered (2, 4, 6, …) moves.
Playing simultaneous chess exhibition (called “simul” for brevity) itself is very challenging, having very little time to think and requiring to handle multiple games at a time. Playing tandem simuls are even harder, because the two players may have different styles, may think different plans and may be comfortable with different types of positions and openings. I was not sure whether it is even possible to handle this many games.
We not only played 50 games, but won all of them, with a perfect 100% score! Well, three people had to leave early, and we didn’t have winning advantage in those games. So, it is 47/47 instead of 50/50, but it is still 100%!
One challenge we had was, we play completely different opening systems. Mr. G. plays 1. d4, while I have never played any first move other than 1. e4. We sat down to decide a common opening system both are comfortable with, without success. So, finally we decided to open with 1. d4 and use either the Stonewall system or Colle system, both Mr. G. is very familiar with. He gave me a book on these openings, and for the first time in my life, I had to prepare some opening system for a match!
This had some consequences: One of the opponents, Aryan, prepared a gambit line (which I didn’t know) against 1. d4, and I messed up in the opening and our position was ruined after the opening. Our King was lured to the center, with all kinds of attacks around it. Aryan missed several winning chances in the game, and we managed to transform the game into an even Rook and pawn ending. We beat Aryan using our superior understanding of the endgame in 60 moves. This was the best fight in the match. (See Game 2 below)
Most of the opponents were kids, but some of them were really good. Some adults also were there. To our surprise, Fred, veteran player and director of Koulty Chess Club, San Jose joined in the middle, producing the most complicated and longest (69) game in the match.
We made a total of 1302 moves in 50 games, with an average of around 26 moves (Standard deviation = 13.6) per game. Median = 21, Mode = 18.
We took 6 hours 40 minutes. That means 18.4 seconds/move. But we waited in each round at halfway so that the other can catch up on the other side, and we estimated we did such wait for a total of 60 minutes. So we took 400 x 60 – 3600 = 20400 seconds for 1302 moves, means approximately 15.67 seconds per move on average. This includes the time to write down the moves (both our and the opponents’) on the scoresheet.
The longest game was against Fred (69 moves). Then comes Aryan (60), Nandit (54), Jeffrey (52), Easwar (48), Rahul (43) and Raghu (42). The shortest game was by Arthur (8 moves), but he withdrew early. Then comes Hari (11), Austin (11), Gavin (13 – withdrew), Vighnesh (13), Kevin (15), Likith (15), Pratham (15). The shortest checkmate was against Vighnesh (13 moves).