Susan Polgar world simultaneous chess record attempt

7/31/2005 – On August 1–2 there will be an attempt to break the record for the greatest number of chess games played simultaneously, as recorded by the Guinness Book of World Records. The simultaneous master is GM Susan Polgar, who will attempt to play 350 opponents at the same time, in a 24-hour period of time. Pictures of the preparation.

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The previous record, as far as we know, is 321 games played by IM Andrew Martin (of ChessBase DVD fame) on February 21, 2004 at the Wellington College Crowthorne. Earlier records were 310 games played in 1996 by Swedish GM Ulf Andersson (result: +268 =40 –2, achieved in 15 hours 23 minutes).


A simultaneous exhibition given by Samuel Rosenthal in Paris in 1867

As an aside we need to mention that according to the latest Guinness Book Anna-Maria Botsari, WGM from Greece broke a record entitled "Most opponents in consecutive chess games", which we assume means she played against far fewer opponents, who were replaced by new ones when their games were over. Botsari managed 1,102 "consecutive games", breaking the previous record held by the Chinese player Ye, who had managed 1004. We have no details on the mechanics of these marathons.

In 1977 GM Vlastimil Hort, after unluckily losing a Candidates' match, played a marathon simultaneous exhibition in Reykjavik, Iceland. Vlastimil took on 200 opponents, who were replaced as soon as a game ended, and played 550 games in a 24-hour session. His score: +477, =63, –10.


A 92-board simultaneous exhibition given by the entire Baden-Oos team (with Anand, Svidler, Dautov and Almira Skripchenko) in Baden-Baden, 2003

In a genuine simultaneous record attempt all players have to be present at the same time, and the master must play all games simultaneously, not sequentially. When a game is over the opponent is not replaced. To qualify for the Guinness world record the simultaneous master has to win at least 80% of the games.


Prepared: Susan Polgar at the Gardens Mall site in Florida

Susan Polgar's record attempt will be launched at the Gardens Mall in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. It will start on Monday, August 1st at 10 a.m. in the morning. Her opponents are chess enthusiasts from all over Florida. Supporting Organizations are the Susan Polgar Foundation, the Gardens Mall, Channing Corporation, Northern Palm Beaches Chamber of Commerce, Boca Raton Chess Club, Palm Beach County Sports Institute. The purpose of this event is to raise money for the Susan Polgar Foundation to promote chess, with all its social, educational and competitive benefits throughout the United States, for young people of all ages, especially girls.

How hard is it?

This is how the mechanics of the record attempt work: 350 "chess stations" will be set up in the Gardens Mall, each consisting of a table and chair, a chess board and pieces. Each player is assigned to a station. Susan walks along the rows of tables. At each station she will observe her opponent move. Then she will respond with her move. Then she walks to the next station and repeats the process.


Preparations under way to launch the simultaneous chess record

According to our calculations, if the stations are about a yard apart, and if the games last an average of 30 moves, then Susan will have to traverse the 350 yards 30 times, making for about 10,000 yards or close to six miles (ten kilometers).


Boards and sets being put into place

She would make a total of 10,000 moves, and if she wants to complete the task within a 24-hour period she will have approximately eight seconds to walk to a board, ponder and execute a move. We assume that in the opening she will play much faster, probably hardly breaking her stride.


Down these "chess alleys" she must go

It is an extremely daunting task, and the success of the endeavour is far from guaranteed. We can only cross our fingers and hope Susan has the stamina and determination to see it through.


The team of helpers and enthusiasts who are making this record possible


Meeting the children, telling them about chess in the Gardens Mall


The press takes a keen interest in these unusual chess activities


Susan being interviewed by John Shainman, ABC Palm Beach anchor


Susan with her two sons Leeam and Tommy


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