Game Changing Simul

On Saturday Chester welcomed GM Matthew Sadler and WIM Natasha Regan to the Hoole Community Centre. There they entertained around 40 members and guests from as far away as Stockport and London.

Following an entertaining talk and games analysis about AlphaZero from their book Game Changer there was an opportunity to buy copies of Game Changer and to have books signed.

Freya and Jasmine with Matthew and Natasha

At that point the serious simul business started. The organisers had jumbled together a few types of boards and arranged the tables suitably far apart to reduce the grandmaster edge as much as possible. And early on that seemed to be helping the participants gain some chances.

Ready to go. Chris and Dave (right) discuss tactics whilst Matthew and Natasha (back) do the same.
Ethan focuses on the task ahead.
Stephen, Jack and Andrew play their openings.
Colin plays on the queenside whilst Matthew contemplates Stockport sharks Allan and Andy.
John looks on as Sam makes his move and Colin gets ready.
Nick prepares to make his move.

As the community centre management started to wonder when it might finish, Matthew kicked up a gear (many of the photos were too blurred to use as he sped round the hall – it transpires that when not working, writing, playing, studying openings, or reviewing books he also runs regularly).

Matthew devises a cunning plan against Freya’s queenside expansion. Ethan and Chris get ready to move.
Chris wonders how best to get some winning chances from his piece sacrifice.

Chester knock out first team players were amongst the last to finish. Chris and Colm’s attacks were ultimately pushed back leaving Daniel as the last hope of any result against Matthew.

Matthew calmly parries Colm’s attack, defending his king with his queen on the h1-a8 diagonal.
Dan is the final player to finish. Material up he faced a tricky conversion, but looked unlikely to lose…
Disaster strikes…Dan, Black to move, centralises his king with ..Ke6, allowing the unfortunate Bg4

In the end the one on one blitz pressure proved too much and Matthew completed his 100% sweep. For his efforts Dan won the best game prize, a signed centenary mug.

After coming tantalisingly close to a result, Dan has to be satisfied with a signed mug as consolation.

But what of the secondary simul you might be asking? Or might not. WIM Natasha was joined by your writer (and Chester league individual champion) Phil in a tandem simul against those players preferring less extreme opposition. I couldn’t honestly claim our results were spectacular. Well not spectacularly good anyway. Playing my first simul I let the side down early on by allowing Ian Clayton to inflict a cunning ..Nh3+, forking our king(g1) and queen (f2). Prospective new member Dave played in AlphaZero style crushing us by pushing his h-pawn all the way to h3 (just as Natasha had explained in her talk!) Other players perhaps showed more respect than was merited; John Sutcliffe resigned a couple of times when we were only a couple of pawns up in an ending. Where we failed to impress we hopefully entertained…

Jixin assists Jasmine with algebraic notation as she takes action in the centre.
Ian prepares to play ..Nh3 whilst Jasmine prepares some further sacrifices.

Thanks to everyone who helped make the event a success. Thanks in particular to Matthew and Natasha for coming all the way from London and devoting so much energy to the talk and simuls. And thanks to Stephen Chapman for generously taking and providing over 100 photos including the majority of those above.

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