Sunday, January 6, 2008

Bruno Simul `08


If you are an outsider to chess, then the term "Simul" (is this really a word??!??) or simultaneous exhibition must seem a little odd.

In a simul a strong player takes on a rather sizable group of usually relatively weaker chess players all at once or simultaneously

 This is how a simul is usually conducted: 


 Tables are arranged in a square, circle or oval in a realtively large hall.  The simul participants seat themselves on one side, usually the outer perimeter and the chess master who is giving the simul walks clockwise to each player.  When the master stands before the player, the player then makes a move and the master makes an answering move and then moves on. Sometimes a player will take a "pass" if the player needs a little time.  For the sake of expediency, it is customary to be allowed three passes per player.  Some masters will reserve the right to start all games with the White pieces. Touch move is not enforced. Ettiquette requires no outside consultation or using books.  A simul is considered successful for the master if he achieves a 50% score or better.  Such has been the state of simuls since the time of Frenchman Andre Danican Philidor (c. 1760) through his succesors LaBourdannais (who also played a couple hands of whist); to Paul Morphy; to, arguably, the greatest simul performer of all time, Harry Nelson Pillsbury; to the incomparable Jose Raoul Capablanca; to Alexander Alekhine; to Bobby Fischer to the present day.

The San Diego Chess Club has a proud time-honored tradition of having various chess dignitaries, usually a visiting titled-master conduct simuls.  In 2006, for instance, Grandmasters Alex Yermolinsky and Alexander Shabalov along with WGM Carmilla Baginskaite gave a memorable tandem simul, with the grandmasters alternating turns at making moves, at the club during the United States Chess Championship that was held in the NTC Promenade in San Diego.  Recently Grandmaster Varuzhan Akobian gave a more traditional simul which was made memorable when young Varun Krishnan, then 9-years olddelivered a smothered mate to the sporting grandmaster. For those that have not seen this remarkable game, here it is - GM Akobian v. Varun Krishnan, Simul

Sometimes a club member is called to give a simul.  This happens when a new club champion is crowned or when a club member achieves the required rating of chess master (2200+) for the first time.


This year National Master Ron Bruno captured the title of San Diego Club Champion for the second time and was invited to demonstrate his skills in a public simul.  There were twenty-three participants to take on the champion whose recent achievements have made him a standout master even beyond the confines of the San Diego Chess Club.  In February, Ron Bruno tied for first with an undefeated 5-1 score for first board at the U.S. Amateur Team West held in Los Angeles.  His two draws were against Grandmaster Sergey Kudrin and IM Joaquin Banawa


 Then in March, Ron Bruno defeated Grandmaster Melikset Khachiyan (his first grandmaster scalp) at the Western Pacific Open in Los Angeles. See game here.

A simul requires a different set of skills.  Sheer endurance must surely be prized highly just as combinational vision and positional intuition.

After the smoke had cleared, five players claimed victory over the new champion.  They were Erik Marquis, Marty Lower, Mariano Lozano, Alejandro Garamendi and Shaun Sweitzer.  Here is Erik Marquis convincing win.  Bruno-Marquis


Three players earned draws.  They were Ed Baluran, Victor Broman and Bill Murray.

Championship finalist George Zeigler sportingly participated to join in the fun and ended up a statistic.  Speaking of statistics, the final tally at the end of the night was 15 wins, 5 losses and 3 draws for a percentage of  71.7 %


One of the youngest participants was Easton Banks who put stronger than expected resistance.


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