CHESS

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODFUN -

CAPETO­NI­ANS have shone in the last week.

Top of the achieve­ments is Kenny Solomon’s grand­mas­ter norm. Play­ing in the Padua Open, Kenny scored eight out of a pos­si­ble nine, third equal be­hind the joint win­ners Epeshin and Malerov. If Solomon does gain the ti­tle he will be­come the first South African to hold Fidé’s high­est nomen­cla­ture for over-the-board play, but it is the rat­ing that climbs ever nearer 2 600 that re­ally mat­ters.

Other Capeto­ni­ans in the spot­light in­clude Tif­fany Dar­ling, who won the un­der-12 gold medal at the African ju­nior in Lusaka. Then, at the South African Ju­nior, which ended this week in Port El­iz­a­beth, Mo­hamed Bha­woo­d­ien creamed the top (un­der-20) sec­tion, while Daniel Bar­rish, aged 11, but play­ing in this sec­tion, fin­ished equal third.

Other heavy scor­ers in lower age groups were Paul Dar­ling, Paul Gluck­man and Raoul Cha­gan.

Both Bha­woo­d­ien and Gluck­man are sons of Fidé ti­tle hold­ers and must ben­e­fit from Dad’s en­cour­age­ment and coach­ing.

The main at­trac­tion out­side the tour­na­ment was the pres­ence of former Women’s World Cham­pion Su­san Pol­gar, who, apart from her three-day sem­i­nar on women in chess, gave a si­mul­ta­ne­ous ex­hi­bi­tion against mainly girls, in­clud­ing WGM Melissa Gre­eff.

The sight of one player tak­ing on many op­po­nents never fails to im­press, but as the fa­mous Bel­gian, Count Al­beric O’kelly de Gal­way, told me, “My legs get more tired than my brain.”

Mean­while a new world record was set for blind­fold, si­mul­ta­ne­ous play. Un­til a few weeks ago, since 1947 only one player had played as many as 35 blind­fold games at once un­der well-con­trolled con­di­tions.

That suc­cess­ful mas­ter was Marc Lang of Günzburg, Ger­many, who han­dled 35 op­po­nents in Novem­ber 2010, sur­pass­ing blind­fold cham­pion Ge­orge Koltanowski’s record of 34 si­mul­ta­ne­ous games set in Ed­in­burgh in 1937 (in 2009 Lang had set a new Ger­man record of 23).

Lang’s goal was to ex­ceed 45 games to gain the world record. For the past year he pre­pared by tak­ing on 46 op­po­nents un­der strictly con­trolled con­di­tions, fac­ing a blank wall while his op­po­nent’s boards were shielded from view by opaque screens. Even the wear­ing of che­quered T-shirts was ex­cluded.

It is re­mark­able that Lang is only a Fidé mas­ter, with an ELO rat­ing around 2 300.

Ex­cept for Koltanowski (who did achieve an In­ter­na­tional Mas­ter’s rat­ing in 1950 and was later awarded an hon­orary Grand­mas­ter ti­tle by Fidé in 1988), the great­est si­mul­ta­ne­ous blind­fold play­ers of the past were top world-class tour­na­ment and match play­ers like An­dré Phili­dor, Paul Mor­phy, Joseph Black­burn, Harry Pills­bury, Alexan­der Alekhine, Richard Réti and GM Miguel Na­j­dorf.

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