The "Grandmaster at every table" will include, we are told, Anatoly Karpov, Garry Kasparov, Nigel Short, Michael Adams, Luke McShane, David Howell, Stephen Gordon, Daniel King, John Emms and Raymond Keene. Garry v Nigel and Michael v Luke will be where people can bid to accompany the players in consultation one hour games, where each person makes alternate moves (similar to the NYC format). There will also be impromptu blitz simuls by Garry Kasparov and Nigel Short.
To accompany the grand evening on the 8th of September Barry Martin will be showing images from the Seventh Staunton Memorial Chess Tournament that was held at Simpson's-in-the-Strand in August 2009. It will be the first time they have ever been exhibited. A large drawing (above) from the Kasparov-Short 1993 World Championship, created in the Savoy Theatre where the match was held, will also make a return.
The Grand Cigar Divan –
The Home of Chess
In 1828, Samuel Reiss, opened the Grand Cigar Divan on the site of the Fountain Tavern which had been the home of the famous literary association, the Kit Kat Club.
The establishment soon developed as a coffee house, where gentlemen smoked cigars with their coffee, browsed over the daily journals and newspapers, indulged in lengthy conversations about the politics of the day and played chess, sitting on comfortable divans or sofas. Many of these divans were arranged to form boxes and these can still be seen today. Regular visitors would pay one guinea a year for the use of the facilities and cups of coffee. The daily entrance fee for others was 6d (2½ p) or 1/6d (9p) with coffee and a cigar.
Simpson's-in-the-Strand in London today
The entrance to the Grand Divan (originally the "Grand Cigar Divan")
Historical pictures on the walls of the staircases
Two more recent players whom you might recognise in the paintings on the walls