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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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…
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.
Junior Club organiser Phil Skippon, pictured below receiving the Townsend trophy last year, has set himself a possibly tougher task to complete the Chester half marathon on Sunday May 19th.
Starting at the racecourse around 9am he hopes to arrive at the Town Hall around 11am. He’s aiming to raise funds for the junior club to purchase additional chess clocks. If you’d like to sponsor him please contact him directly or you can use the club email firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck to Phil!