Judit's clock simul against French students

4/9/2015 – What is it like to play against eight University chess teams of 3-4 players each, simultaneously, with your eight clocks all running at the same time? And doing something like this, as a retired player, for the first time in your life. Not too much of a problem if you happen to be the strongest female player in the history of the game. Judit Polgar tells us how it felt in this EY Chess Trophy simul.

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EY Chess Trophy: Judit Polgar against French students

The 22nd edition of the EY Chess Trophy took place on March 21-22 in the EY France headquarters in Paris (EY is one of the biggest worldwide audit and advisory firms). It is a rapid tournament played by teams of four players from the same university, followed by a clock simul between an invited GM and the eight best teams of the tournament. After Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in 2013 and Laurent Fressinet in 2014, the guest GM this year was Judit Polgar, the greatest female player in history, who still continues to promote chess through various events and exhibitions despite her retirement from competitions.

The greatest female player ever: Judit Polgar

The level of this 22nd edition was particularly high, with the participation of a dozen titled players, including GM Maxime Lagarde and IMs Adrien Demuth, Quentin Loiseau, Julien Song and Christophe Sochacki. The strongest team, Polytech-Université de Nantes (GM Maxime Lagarde, FM Pierre Barbot, Ronan Le Goff, Mickael Hutois, Jules Marecailles), eventually managed to win the tournament with 6.5/7, conceding a single draw against Science Po Bordeaux. UPMC (FM Yvain Bruned, FM Wojtek Sochacki, Redwan Maatoug, Amiel Peiffer-Smadja) with 5.5/7 and X-ENSTA (Etienne Adam, Frédéric Li, Nicolas Pilté, Clément Jeannesson) with 5.0/7 came second and third respectively.

The winners of the tournament, Polytech Nantes

The eight teams qualified for the simultaneous exhibition were:

  1. Polytech Nantes
  2. X-ENSTA
  3. ISEP
  4. Dauphine-ILERI
  5. INSA Rouen
  6. Universités de Paris
  7. Paris 1
  8. Sciences Po Bordeaux (due to a forfeit of the UPMC team)

It was agreed with Judit that titled players wouldn’t take part in the simul. Despite this the average rating of the participants remained very high, with a lot of players rated above 2200. So things were going to be far from easy for the Hungarian chess queen.

The setting for the clock simul against eight teams of university players

Let the games begin – one against 8 x 3-4 players

As the qualified teams and Judit took place behind their boards, the remaining players stayed in the audience room where the games were broadcast and commented by Jean Claude Moingt, former French Federation president, and Anatoly Vaïsser, winner of the World Senior Chess Championship in 2010 and 2013. They were soon joined by the French top GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Laurent Fressinet.

Quite a surprise for Anatoli Vaisser and Jean-Claude Moingt to be joined by a unexpected commentator

Just to give you an idea of how tough these clock simuls are: you have the same amount of time as your opponents, which is one hour thirty minutes at the start of the game. Just that all your clocks are running simultaneously and you have to finish not one but eight games in that same time period! Also you constantly need to keep walking without taking a break and have to be always aware of the boards where your time is ticking by. Clock simuls are an ultimate test of not only your speed of decision making but also your stamina and endurance.

Judit took the simultaneous exhibition very seriously, as she decided to spend a lot of time behind each board right from the opening. The drawback of this strategy is that as time passed it became more and more difficult for her to play on eight boards. Therefore, she had to end some games quickly, or she was going to be in a serious time trouble.

Hard at work: after one hour and a half, Judit scored her first point against Universités de Paris

[Event "Grandes Ecoles"] [Site "?"] [Date "2015.03.22"] [Round "1.8"] [White "Polgar, Judith"] [Black "Universités Paris"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B42"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "45"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:41:31"] [BlackClock "0:42:45"] {This was the first game that ended out of the eight games. Judit simply crushed her opponents.} 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Bd3 Qc7 6. O-O Nf6 7. c4 Be7 8. Nc3 O-O 9. Be3 d6 10. Rc1 b6 11. b4 Nbd7 12. f4 Bb7 13. f5 exf5 $2 (13... e5 {was necessary.} 14. Nd5 Qd8 (14... Nxd5 15. cxd5 Qb8 16. Nc6 $16) 15. Nb3 $14 {White has an edge, but Black is very much in the game.}) 14. Nxf5 Rfe8 15. Nd5 Bxd5 16. cxd5 Qd8 {Such positions are piece of cake for Judit, even in clock simuls.} 17. Bd4 Bf8 18. Qf3 Ne5 19. Bxe5 dxe5 (19... Rxe5 $142) 20. Rc6 $1 Kh8 21. a3 $1 {White's position is so good that she can easily afford such moves.} Ng8 22. Rfc1 Ne7 23. Nd6 {A very smooth win for the grandmaster.} 1-0

The look on the faces of the students from Paris University says it all

On six of the seven remaining boards Judit had the upper hand, but the commentators were thinking that one or two teams would be able to hold the draw. On the last board, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Laurent Fressinet were very enthusiastic about the position of the X-ENSTA team, which had a wonderful black bishop and a strong initiative on the kingside.

[Event "Grandes Ecoles"] [Site "?"] [Date "2015.03.22"] [Round "1.3"] [White "Polgar, Judith"] [Black "X-ENSTA"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C78"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "108"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:05:55"] [BlackClock "0:01:28"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O b5 6. Bb3 Bc5 7. d3 d6 8. c3 O-O 9. h3 Bb7 10. Bg5 h6 11. Bh4 Qe7 12. Nbd2 Kh7 13. Bc2 Rg8 14. Nh2 g5 15. Bg3 Rg6 16. Ng4 Nxg4 17. Qxg4 Rag8 {This was one of the only games in the simul in which Judit got a worse position out of the opening. She had a perfectly acceptable position until this point, but now things go wrong.} 18. d4 $2 (18. Rfe1 $14) 18... Bb6 $2 (18... exd4 $1 {would have opened the long diagonal, but Black is totally fine.} 19. e5 (19. cxd4 Nxd4 20. Bd3 Ne6 21. e5 dxe5 22. Bxg6+ Rxg6 23. Rae1 Nf4 $17) 19... Nxe5 20. Bxg6+ Kxg6 21. Bxe5 dxe5 22. Nb3 d3 $17) 19. d5 $14 {White is clearly better but there are a lot of ups and downs still to take place.} Nb8 20. Rfe1 (20. a4 $1 $14) 20... Nd7 21. Nf1 $2 Nf6 $1 22. Qe2 h5 $1 {Black launches a dangerous attack on the white king.} 23. Ne3 Bc8 (23... h4 24. Bh2 g4 $1 $17) 24. Nf5 Bxf5 25. exf5 Rh6 $2 (25... R6g7 $15) 26. h4 $1 $11 Qf8 (26... g4 $2 27. a4 $16) 27. Kh1 Qg7 28. f3 Kh8 29. Qd2 gxh4 30. Bxh4 Nxd5 {The knight is taboo because of the mate on g2.} 31. g3 c6 32. Rad1 Bd8 33. Rg1 Bg5 34. f4 Bf6 (34... Bxh4 35. gxh4 Qf6 $17) 35. Be4 Qg4 36. Bxd5 cxd5 37. fxe5 Qh3+ (37... Bg5 $1 38. Bxg5 Rxg5 $17) 38. Qh2 Qxh2+ 39. Kxh2 $11 Bxe5 40. Rxd5 Rg4 41. Kh3 f6 42. Re1 Kg7 43. Kg2 Kf7 44. Kf3 Ke7 $2 45. Rdxe5+ $1 {Judit is sharp as a hawk.} dxe5 46. Rxe5+ Kd7 (46... Kf7 { was better.}) 47. Re6 Ra4 48. a3 Kc7 49. Bxf6 Kd7 50. Re7+ Kd6 51. Rf7 Rc4 52. Bg7 h4 53. Bxh6 h3 54. Bf4+ Kd5 {A game filled with many ups and downs. Kudos to team Ensta for playing quite an imaginative attack and also to Judit for keeping her nerves in an extremely difficult situation.} 1-0

Team X-Ensta stretched Judit to the limit but in the end weren’t able to handle the time pressure

As the time continued to flow, both Judit and the teams were beginning to get into zeitnot, which inevitably caused some mistakes. Judit blundered in two games, losing a bishop against Paris 1 and INSA Rouen. She still managed to save the draw on the Paris 1 board, while she had to resign against INSA Rouen.

[Event "Grandes Ecoles"] [Site "?"] [Date "2015.03.22"] [Round "1.6"] [White "Polgar, Judith"] [Black "Paris 1"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "D15"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "90"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:13:08"] [BlackClock "0:00:04"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Nf3 a6 5. Ne5 g6 6. g3 Bg7 7. Bg2 O-O 8. O-O dxc4 9. Nxc4 Be6 10. Ne5 Nbd7 11. Nd3 Bc4 12. Nf4 e5 13. dxe5 Nxe5 14. b3 Be6 15. Nxe6 fxe6 16. Ba3 Re8 17. Qc2 Qa5 18. Bb2 Nd5 19. Ne4 Rad8 {Judit has a clear advantage after the opening. Not only does White have a bishop pair but she also has a better pawn structure. The simple move, Rad1, would keep the edge. But Judit moves the other rook and drops the a2 pawn.} 20. Rad1 $2 (20. Rfd1 $16) 20... Qxa2 $1 {White loses a pawn almost without any compensation. Now there are threats like Nf3+ on the horizon.} 21. Nc5 ({The queen cannot be trapped.} 21. Ra1 Qxb2 $1 22. Qxb2 Nf3+ 23. Bxf3 Bxb2 $17) 21... Qxb2 $2 (21... Nf7 22. Rb1 Re7 $15 {gives Black a fine position.}) 22. Qxb2 Nf3+ 23. Bxf3 Bxb2 24. Nxb7 $14 {White has a clear advantage once again although the game later ended in a draw.} Rb8 25. Nc5 Rb5 26. Nxa6 Rxb3 27. Nc5 Rb5 28. Ne4 Ra8 29. Bg4 e5 30. Bd7 Ra6 31. Rd3 Kg7 32. Nd6 Rc5 33. Rf3 Nc3 34. Ne8+ (34. Rf7+ Kg8 35. Be6 Nxe2+ 36. Kg2 Nd4 37. Ra7+ Nxe6 38. Rxa6 $18) 34... Kh6 35. Nc7 Nxe2+ 36. Kg2 Ra7 37. Ne6 Rc3 38. Rf7 Ba3 39. g4 (39. Re1 $1 $18) 39... Nf4+ 40. Nxf4 exf4 41. h4 g5 42. Re1 $2 {A huge blunder.} Kg6 $1 {[%csl Rd7][%cal Ra3e7] The bishop on d7 is lost.} 43. Rf5 Rxd7 44. Rxg5+ Kf6 45. Rf5+ Kg7 $19 {I wonder why Paris 1 took a draw in this completely winning position. Maybe they were really short of time and confidence. (Judit has told us that they had four seconds left on the clock)} 1/2-1/2

Paris 1 could have scored a victory had they decided to continue playing

[Event "Grandes Ecoles"] [Site "?"] [Date "2015.03.22"] [Round "1.7"] [White "Polgar, Judith"] [Black "INSA"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B44"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "82"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:03:21"] [BlackClock "0:04:57"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nb5 d6 6. c4 a6 7. N5c3 Nf6 8. Be2 Be7 9. O-O O-O 10. Be3 Rb8 11. f3 Qc7 12. Nd2 Rd8 13. Qb3 Nd7 14. Rac1 Nc5 15. Qd1 {An atypical Maroczy type position can be seen on the board. White has a knight on d2 instead of d4. In order to punish this, Black goes for active play, but Judit accurately refutes this activity.} Nb4 $2 (15... Bf6 $11) 16. a3 $1 Nbd3 17. Rc2 {[%cal Rb2b4,Gc5d3,Gd3c5] b4 is threatened now.} Ne5 18. b4 Ncd7 19. Nd5 $1 {Playing with great momentum.} exd5 20. cxd5 {The black queen is trapped. Black has only one way to wriggle out from this, but it leaves White with a central majority.} Nc5 21. bxc5 dxc5 22. f4 Ng6 23. Nb3 b6 24. Nd4 (24. e5 $16) 24... Bb7 25. Nf5 Bf8 26. Qd2 Rd7 27. Qc3 Qd8 28. Bg4 Ne7 29. Bc1 $6 (29. Nxe7+ Rxe7 30. Bf3 $16) 29... Nxf5 30. Bxf5 Rd6 31. Bb2 Bc8 32. Bxc8 Rxc8 {Black has slowly extricated himself from a very bad position.} 33. Rf3 b5 34. Rg3 Rg6 35. Rd2 b4 36. Qc4 Qh4 37. Rxg6 $2 {A very big blunder which results in a lost position.} (37. Rdd3 $14) 37... Qe1+ $1 38. Qf1 Qxd2 39. Rc6 Rxc6 40. dxc6 Qxb2 {White loses a piece without any compensation.} 41. Qxa6 bxa3 0-1

These three young lads can be proud of their feat. They were the only ones who could beat Judit.

Judit won against Dauphine-ILERI and ISEP, while Polytech Nantes managed to take her into an ending king and two knights versus king, and Science Po Bordeaux managed to hold a rook and two pawns versus rook and pawn.

Team of tenacious defenders from Polytech Nantes

Team Science Po Berdeaux managed to hold Judit to a draw with the French Winawer

The final score was therefore four wins, three draws and one loss in the favour of Judit. Scoring 5.5/8 in a such a challenging clock simul was a great feat by the Queen of Chess. We sent a few questions to Judit, asking her how she felt playing in this event, and this is what she had to say:

“This was the first time in my life that I played a clock simul. I knew that the players would be stronger than in the usual simul exhibitions. It was also interesting experience that my opponents were teams of 2-5 players. I was doing fine until the last half an hour, more or less, when in some games I started to get short on time and made some serious mistakes – actually some blunders.”

Judit felt that in some of the games she could have done better but her result was overall quite acceptable. More than tiredness or lack of stamina it was the paucity of time and her time management which led to the blunders.

Judit was also very happy about the organization of the event: “It was a very nice experience for me to see the students play in this simul. I also believe that Olivier [Macard] is doing a great job organizing this event for the students annually. It is a lot of work to organise an event of this calibre.”

After the games everyone gathered in the audience room and Judit discussed some highlights of the simul

… with some contradictors from the audience: Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Fressinet

The event was finally closed with a cocktail, which saw a smiling Judit answering the questions of the students and signing autographs.

If you are famous, you have to pose for selfies

Laurent Fressinet, Judit Polgar, Olivier Macard (organiser), Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

Replay all the games of the Judit Polgar simul

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Pictures from the Facebook page of the tournament

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gmwdim gmwdim 4/9/2015 05:23
I wish she was still playing in competitive events, but it seems Judit is retired now and only plays exhibitions
Steven E DuCharm Steven E DuCharm 4/9/2015 02:51
thlai80 thlai80 4/9/2015 11:12
If simul can be done with computer like viewing multiple games in playchess, that would help reduce the tiredness of Judit and played better.
tasliman tasliman 4/9/2015 10:33
Viva Judit Polgar