Susan Polgar World Record Simul-001

What grandmasters fear most – in simuls (1)

7/31/2016 – Your best chance to draw or win against a grandmaster is to play one in a simultaneous exhibition. In part one of this article by WIM Dr Alexey Root, grandmasters tell us what they fear most during simuls – and why, despite those challenges, they enjoy giving them. In part two, two amateur players reveal how they scored in simuls against the world’s best and created memories that last a lifetime.

What grandmasters fear most – in simuls

By WIM Alexey Root

The problems that grandmasters sometimes face in tournaments (rules violations, physical and mental fatigue, and well-prepared opponents) happen in simuls too. What is manageable in one tournament game (for example a touch-move violation with an arbiter nearby to help) may seem overwhelming when happening on several boards simultaneously. In a three-hour tournament game, a grandmaster can lose only once. But in a three-hour simul, a grandmaster might lose one or two games and give up a couple of draws. In part one, grandmasters tell about the challenges and the pleasures of giving simuls.


Grandmaster Susan Polgar is a former world record holder for simul games. Although she announces that her opponents should wait for her to appear at their boards before they make their moves, violations occur. While the grandmaster is away, the mice will play (with their pieces). As Polgar emailed, “Opponents who are new to simuls may not know the proper etiquette. They sometimes analyse while I am away from the board, and then may ‘accidentally’ fail to reset the pieces back to the game position.” Polgar’s latest book for new chess players is Learn Chess the Right Way!

Despite these challenges, grandmasters like giving simuls. Polgar and Arkell used almost identical descriptions of their desires to entertain and to win. Polgar wrote, “I usually try to make my simul a memorable occasion for my opponents. But of course I would try my best to win.” Arkell wrote, “First of all, when I give simuls my priority is to entertain, and help to create a warm, jovial atmosphere. . . . I try to win every game and don’t like losing.”

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