Carlsen's 70-board simul in Hamburg

by Frederic Friedel
2/22/2016 – Germany's very prestigious news weekly, Die Zeit, have just chalked up seventy years of publication. As part of the anniversary celebration they invited the World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen to play a seventy-board simultaneous exhibition. A number of prominenten opponents took part, and a number of fairly strong players. The event took six hour and ended in a veritable massacre.

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It was shortly after the end of the Second World War that the first edition of Die Zeit was published in Hamburg – to be precise on 21 February 1946 – above the masthead of the very first issue. Since then the paper has been published weekly, on Thursdays, for seventy years. It is considered to be highbrow, with a centrist to liberal orientation, publishing dossiers, essays, third-party articles and excerpts of lectures of different authors – long and detailed articles published in a large physical paper format. It has a circulation of around half a million copies, with an estimated readership of slightly above two million.

Arriving at the venue (in the Harbour area of Hamburg) an hour early we were
surprised to see a long queue of people waiting for entry to watch the simul

Inside most of the opponents of the World Champion were ready and receiving instructions from the organiser

When the event was announced Die Zeit had asked chess players to apply for a place in the simul, with no upper limit for playing strength specified. Very soon 1400 applications were received – most opponents were chosen by lot. Four places were reserved for special guests, and two for young talents: Jana Schneider (see her game below) and Jeremy Hommer.

For the players – like nine-year-old Jeremy Hommer – there was sustenance for the long battle ahead

Here we have some pre-game consultation – between the former German Finance Minister
and candidate for Chancellory, Peer Steinbrück, and another young Carlsen opponent

At last the general public was let in and quickly filled the entire hall, after which...

... the World Champion arrives and is introduced by senior ZEIT reporter Ulrich Stock

Ulrich is a chess (and music) aficionado whom we tend to meet in places like Chennai and Sochi rather than in the newspaper offices in Hamburg, located just a few miles from the ChessBase office. In his introduction to the simultaneous exhibition he asked Carlsen if it would be okay to interrupt the simul at some stage to get his opinion on how things were going. Magnus reply: "Sure, but please make it brief – we don't want to break the concentration of my opponents, who are hard at work." Trademark Carlsen humour.

And then the simul was under way, one against seventy, quite a daunting task, you'll agree

Magnus at work – in the background you can spot another prominent opponent...

Yes, famous football star and coach Felix Magath, also a great chess fan

A bird's eyeview of the games in progress

The score at half-time, displayed on a "Play Magnus" screen

Kate Murphy is CEO of Play Magnus, Arne Horwei organises events like these

We have two games annotated by young players, the first by Jana Schneider:

[Event "Simul - 70 Years DIE ZEIT"] [Site "?"] [Date "2016.02.20"] [Round "?"] [White "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Black "Schneider, Jana"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E08"] [WhiteElo "2844"] [BlackElo "2112"] [Annotator "Schneider,Jana"] [PlyCount "67"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] 1. Nf3 d5 2. c4 e6 3. g3 Nf6 4. Bg2 Be7 5. O-O O-O 6. d4 Nbd7 7. Qc2 Ne4 8. Nc3 Nxc3 9. Qxc3 Nf6 10. Bf4 c6 11. Rac1 Ne4 12. Qb3 g5 $5 13. Be3 f5 {Too optimistic, weakens the position of the king.} (13... f6 {was probably better.} ) 14. Ne5 {An unpleasant position for Black.} Qe8 (14... Bf6 {[%cal Yf6e5] in order to exchange the knight.}) 15. f4 h6 (15... g4 16. Bxe4 dxe4 17. d5 $16) 16. cxd5 exd5 17. Bxe4 fxe4 18. fxg5 hxg5 19. Rxf8+ Qxf8 20. Rf1 Qe8 (20... Qd8 21. Nf7 Qb6 $16 {in order to exchange the queens. The king is too weak.}) 21. g4 (21. Nf7 g4 22. Bg5 $18 {[%cal Rb3e3,Re3h6,Re3g5]}) 21... Rb8 (21... Qd8 { [%csl Re5][%cal Ye7f6,Yf6e5]} 22. Nf7) 22. Bd2 {[%cal Yb3e3,Yb3h3]} Be6 23. Qh3 (23. h4 gxh4 24. Qe3) 23... Kg7 $8 24. Qg3 Kh7 $2 (24... Qd8 25. Nxc6 bxc6 26. Qe5+ $16) 25. h4 gxh4 26. Qe3 Bf8 $8 27. Qg5 Bg7 28. Qxh4+ Kg8 29. Bh6 Qd8 ( 29... Bxe5 30. Qg5+ Kh7 31. Qxe5 Kxh6 32. Rf6+ {Also lost for Black.}) 30. Qh5 Bxe5 $2 (30... Qe7 31. Qg6 $18 {The bishops on e6 and g7 are too weak. The threat is} -- 32. Rf7 ({and} 32. Bxg7 Qxg7 33. Qxe6+)) 31. Qxe5 {Black can resign.} Qd7 32. Qxb8+ Kh7 33. Qf8 Qc7 {[%cal Yc7g3] Threatening ...Qg3 and perpetual.} 34. Kg2 {[%cal Yf1h1] Resigns.} 1-0

The second is by Annmarie Mütsch, who is just thirteen years old

[Event "Simul - 70 Years DIE ZEIT"] [Site "?"] [Date "2016.02.20"] [Round "?"] [White "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Black "Mütsch, Annmarie"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A50"] [WhiteElo "2844"] [BlackElo "1933"] [Annotator "Mütsch,Annmarie"] [PlyCount "71"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 b6 4. e4 d6 5. d4 Be7 6. g3 ({I would have disliked } 6. Bd3 O-O 7. e5 {more.}) 6... O-O 7. Bg2 Bb7 8. Qe2 Re8 9. e5 dxe5 10. dxe5 Nfd7 11. Bf4 Bb4 12. O-O Bxc3 13. bxc3 c5 14. Rad1 Qc7 15. h4 Nc6 16. Rd6 Nf8 17. h5 Rad8 18. h6 {After 18.h6 I thought I would get counterplay with 18... Ng6, which would in my opinion not have been possible after 20.Rfd1.} (18. Rfd1 ) 18... Ng6 19. Qe3 Ba6 ({I also thought about} 19... Nce7 $1 {but I was unclear about the position after} 20. g4 {Probably I would have been better after} Nxf4 21. Qxf4 Bxf3 22. Bxf3 Ng6 23. Qg3 f6 24. Rxd8 Rxd8 25. exf6 Qxg3+ 26. fxg3 gxh6 $19 {Since Magnus was approaching my board I had no time left to calculate this variation and went for the text move.}) 20. hxg7 Bxc4 21. Rfd1 ( 21. Nd2 Ncxe5 22. Bxe5 Nxe5 23. Rxd8 Rxd8 $19) 21... Nce7 22. Bg5 $1 {prevents 22...Nf5 or 22...Nd5.} Qc8 (22... Bd5 23. Qd2 c4 24. Bf6 $14) 23. Bxe7 Nxe7 24. g4 {takes the important square f5 for my knight.} Nd5 25. Qh6 f6 $6 26. R1xd5 $6 (26. Ng5 $3 fxg5 27. Be4 $1) (26. exf6 Rxd6 27. Ng5 Nxf6 28. Rxd6 $18) 26... Bxd5 27. exf6 Bxf3 28. Bxf3 Rxd6 29. Be4 Kf7 30. g5 e5 31. g6+ $4 (31. g8=Q+ $1 Rxg8 (31... Kxg8 32. Qxh7+) 32. Qxh7+) 31... Kxf6 32. gxh7+ Kf7 {It was clear to me that my position was lost for many moves now, but I still wanted to create some problems for the World Champion.} 33. h8=N+ (33. Qxd6 Qg4+ (33... Kxg7 34. Qg6+ $1) 34. Kf1 Kxg7 (34... Qxg7 35. Bd5+) 35. h8=Q+ Kxh8 (35... Rxh8 36. Qe7+ Kh6 37. Qf6+ Kh5 38. Qxh8+) 36. Qh6+ Kg8 37. Bd5+) 33... Ke7 34. Qg5+ Rf6 35. Ng6+ Ke6 (35... Kf7 36. Bd5+ Ree6 37. Nf8 $1) 36. g8=Q+ 1-0

The Carlsen simul lasted six hours, and the final result was (hold on to your hat): 68-2, sixty-seven wins for the World Champion, two draws and one loss. One of the draws is especially interesting, but we will save it for a later article. Here is the only loss Magnus suffered.

Jens-Erik Rudolph vs Magnus Carlsen [Pictures of Rudolpj by Julia Keltsch for DIE ZEIT]

[Event "Simul - 70 Years DIE ZEIT"] [Site "?"] [Date "2016.02.20"] [Round "?"] [White "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Black "Rudolph, Jens-Erik"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A42"] [WhiteElo "2844"] [BlackElo "1981"] [PlyCount "114"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] 1. c4 g6 2. Nc3 Bg7 3. d4 d6 4. e4 e5 5. d5 a5 6. Bd3 Na6 7. Nge2 Nf6 8. Bg5 h6 9. Bh4 O-O 10. f3 Nc5 11. Bc2 Bd7 12. O-O Qe8 13. Kh1 Nh7 14. b3 f5 15. a3 b6 16. b4 Nb7 17. Qd2 f4 18. Bf2 g5 19. Nb5 Bxb5 20. cxb5 h5 21. Nc3 g4 22. Qe2 Qg6 23. Rfc1 Nf6 24. Bd1 Bh6 25. Be1 Rf7 26. Ra2 Rg7 27. Rac2 Kh8 28. Qf1 Rag8 29. Bh4 Bg5 30. Bf2 g3 31. Be1 gxh2 32. Na4 Ne8 33. Nb2 axb4 34. axb4 h4 35. Nd3 Bd8 36. Kxh2 Rh7 37. Nf2 Nf6 38. Nh3 Nh5 39. Ra1 Ng3 40. Qd3 Bf6 41. Ra7 Nd8 42. Raxc7 Rxc7 43. Rxc7 Nf5 44. Rc2 Ne3 45. Ra2 Nxg2 46. Qe2 Ne3 47. Bb3 Nf7 48. Qf2 Qh5 49. Qe2 Rg2+ 50. Qxg2 Nxg2 51. Kxg2 Ng5 52. Ng1 h3+ 53. Kh1 Qg6 54. Rh2 Nxf3 55. Nxf3 Qxe4 56. Rxh3+ Kg7 57. Kg1 Qe3+ 0-1

Winner Rudolph is a City League player and publisher of classical chess books

The game notation with the signature of the World Champion

What every opponent got: a Play Magnus chess set, signed by Magnus Carlsen

Football with Magnus

Here's a question for you: what is the best way to prepare for a marathon 70-player simultaneous exhibition? Football after breakfast! Magnus called André Schulz at ChessBase and asked him if he could join in a football session on the morning before the simul.

Magnus in action in a football game including a number of chess players

He's pretty good at this game, and certainly always has his heart in it

Keeper on Team Magnus was his second, Peter Heine Nielsen,
who happened to be in Hamburg to record a new DVD

The chess-football group with two guests

Pictures by Frederic Friedel, André Schulz, Julia Keltsch for DIE ZEIT

Editor-in-Chief emeritus of the ChessBase News page. Studied Philosophy and Linguistics at the University of Hamburg and Oxford, graduating with a thesis on speech act theory and moral language. He started a university career but switched to science journalism, producing documentaries for German TV. In 1986 he co-founded ChessBase.


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