12-year-old beats Super-GM in simul

2/16/2010 – This is what happens when you travel half-way around the globe, accept more and more opponents in a strong simul, agree to play with white and black pieces, and start at 1 a.m. body time. You blunder a game against a 12-year-old and make it into the Canadian press. Alexei Shirov showed great sporting spirit in this Ottawa simul. Gordon Ritchie reports.

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12-year-old beats Super-GM in simul

By Gordon Ritchie

A jet-lagged Alexei Shirov took on 36 strong opponents last night at the RA Chess Club in a dramatic exhibition featuring impressive performances and an astounding upset. The level was remarkably high by simul standards: six masters (four players over 2300), another eight experts (over 2000), and 14 A-class opponents (1800-2000). In an unusual gesture, Shirov alternated with white and black pieces. Players came from Ottawa, Gatineau and as far away as Montreal and North Bay.

Originally the simul was supposed to be with 25 opponents only. First he accepted five more, then another five. When an extra player showed up at the last moment he agreed: "Just add another board". Shirov was aware of the strength of the opponents, but he could not know who was who – the organisers did not provide name tags. For the first few moves Shirov actually he spent more time with the lower rated players.


The start of the simul with the jet-lagged grandmaster in Ottawa

Arriving direct from Latvia at 2 a.m. Thursday morning, Shirov played the match in the vaulted Canada Room of the RA Centre. The games started at 7 p.m. Thursday (1 a.m. Friday Riga time) and quickly produced a sensation. After only 90 minutes and 16 moves, the Super Grandmaster turned over his king and put out his hand in defeat to the youngest player in the hall, 12-year-old Pranav Sharma. Shirov congratulated the young wizard and presented him with an autographed copy of his first book, the best-selling Fire on Board.


The start of a critical game: Pranav Sharma vs Alexei Shirov


The grandmaster has just played 3...g6 against the 12-year-old lad

Sharma,Pranav - Shirov,Alexei [B26]
Ottawa Simul, 02.2010
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.d3 d6 6.Be3 Rb8 7.f4 b5 8.Qc1 b4 9.Nce2 e5 10.Nf3 Nge7 11.f5 gxf5 12.Bh6 Bxh6 13.Qxh6 fxe4 14.Ng5 exd3 15.Qg7

15...Rg8?? After 15...Kd7 Black is clearly better. 16.Bxc6+ and since White is thratening mate on f7: 1-0.


Shirov signs a book for the lucky winner...


...who will treasure this scoresheet for the rest of his life

From that point on, Shirov summoned his renowned concentration to battle his remaining 35 opponents, winning 25 games, drawing nine and losing one more game, to RA Club Champion, 16-year-old Karoly Szalay. The last game ended just before 1 a.m. Friday morning.

CFC Vice President Stijn de Kerpel, himself a master player who had gone down in flames against the Super GM, pronounced himself delighted by the evening's performance. He noted that Alexei Shirov is undoubtedly the highest-ranked player ever to visit the nation's capital.

The Ottawa Citizen referenced the event on its front-page banner with the caption "All the Right Moves: Ottawa boy topples chess grandmaster." The local front page carried an extensive report, with photograph, and the headline, "The Great One of Chess. Pranav, who's been playing chess for about five years, said he was shocked by his victory," The Ottawa Citizen reported. "'First what went through my mind was how proud my dad would be and the second thing that went through my mind was how happy I was." Pranav said Shirov was gracious in defeat – the super grandmaster raised his hands, congratulated the victor and moved on to the next game."

For the other winner, Karoly Szalay, it was another triumph in a long string of achievements, including the Canadian U16 championship and the RA Club championship. Szalay goes on to present his own simultaneous exhibition Saturday morning, with slightly less formidable opposition, at the Chess 'n Math tournament at the RA Centre. Shirov will be presenting lectures at the RA Centre on Saturday and Sunday afternoon.

There will be a full report in the upcoming CFC chess magazine and the games will be posted on-line at the RA Club website.


Fritz-Trainer DVDs with Alexei Shirov

Other classical DVDs

Title: My Best Games in the Slav and Semi-Slav
Disk contents: Thirteen instructional videos, each based around a single game in which Shirov was a participant. The games span the years 1992 to 2006. Total video running time is nealy five and a half hours.
Comments: The introductory video explains the basic ideas behind the Slav, plus explains a novelty presented in that game. Each successive video explains theory in each variation presented. Note that I did use the word "explains": instead of merely cranking out variations for their own sake, Shirov takes the time to explain the reasoning behind the moves. This is the reason why the user should watch the videos and absorb the instruction in the recommended order; ideas are carried over, but the ideas not verbally repeated, from video to video. Of particular interest to computer chess fans, Shirov's 2001 victory against Shredder in an exhibition game is also included. It should be noted that all games on this DVD are presented in both Chess Media System format and as a regular ChessBase database game; although the latter also contain variations and a bit of symbolic commentary from time to time, the extensive instruction from the videos is not included in text annotation form.

Title: My Best Games in the Nimzo-Indian
Disk contents: Nine video lessons; after an introduction, eight videos (each based around a single game) follow. Total running time is more than four hours.
Comments: The DVD's title isn't completely accurate; Shirov actually discusses three separate openings on this disk, all of which follow the initial moves 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6. These include the Nimzo-Indian (3.Nc3 Bb4), the Queen's Indian (3.Nf3 b6), and the Catalan (3.Nf3 d5 [intending a transposition into a number of varied openings including the French Winawer] 4.g3). Especially interesting is Shirov's revelation in the introductory video that the games presented share a common thread: Shirov knew the general ideas of each opening at the times the games were played but lacked an in-depth knowledge of many variations -- thus he "flew by the seat of his pants" in each game and developed interesting (and successful) ideas in each opening while at the board, instead of relying on "home preparation." Shirov plays White in all but one game, so the user can look on ths DVD as being from "White's point of view", and also concentrates on more recent (post 2003) games (with one exception). As with the Slav disk, the games are also presented in a very-lightly annotated traditional database form.

Title: My Best Games in the King's Indian
Disk contents: Eleven instructional videos, each centered around a single one of Shirov's games. The total running time exceeds five hours.
Comments: Shirov again offers a glimpse into the mind of a grandmaster as he explains his thoughts in eleven of his best games. Both colors are covered, as Shirov plays both sides of this classic opening. Interestingly he includes three draws among the eleven games instead of presenting nothing but victories (how many players typically consider a draw among their "best games"?). The DVD concentrates on the Classical King's Indian (with White's Be2, Nf3, and 0-0 defining the tabia). The introduction contains a brief description of the history behind this opening (including Garry Kasparov's influence on this opening in the 1980's and early 1990's), after which Shirov adopts a "building block" approach to this opening: each subsequent video builds on concepts introduced in prior lessons. Again on this CD the eleven games are also presented in standard database form.

Title: My Best Games in the Caro-Kann
Disk contents: Ten instructional videos, each (with one exception) focuses on a single game in which Shirov was a participant. Total running time is just shy of five hours.
Comments: Shirov presents ten instructional videos, based on both sides (presenting ideas for both White and Black). One video isn't based on a particular game, but instead contains analysis of the Caro-Kann Advance in which Black plays the older move 6...Ne7 instead of the more current 6...c5. In fact, the main focus of this entire DVD is on the Advance thrust 3.e5 (Shirov's preferred line as White). Of particular interest is Shirov's 2001 blindfold game as White against former world champion Anatoly Karpov, an acknowledged master of the Caro-Kann defense. Unlike the other disks mentioned above, this one does not contain the games in standard database format in addition to the instructional Chess Media System format videos.


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