Iranian GM smashes Guinness simultaneous chess world record

by ChessBase
8/30/2009 – 29-year-old Iranian GM Morteza Mahjoob spent months preparing for the record attempt, which until then stood at 360 simultaneous games, set earlier this year by Bulgarian GM Kiril Georgiev. Mahjoob broke it by taking on 500 opponents and scoring 397 wins, 90 draws, 13 loses (= 88.4%). The effort lasted over 18 hours and was closely followed by the Iranian TV. Big illustrated report with videos.

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Morteza Mahjoob breaks Guinness Simultaneous Chess World Record

The Guinness World Record for the largest number of simultaneous games played in a single session was initially set in 1996 Swedish Grandmaster Ulf Anderson, who took on 310 opponents. This record was broken in 2004 by British IM Andrew Martin, author of many of our openings training DVDs. Martin played against 321 opponents, scoring 294 wins, 26 draws and 1 loss for a winning percentage of 95.64%. In August 2005 GM Susan Polgar played against 350 players simultaneously at the Gardens Mall in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Finally, in February this year, Bulgarian GM Kiril Georgiev played a simultaneous exhibition against 360 opponents.

The latest record attempt by Iranian GM Morteza Mahjoob

Recently Iranian GM Morteza Mahjoob, 29, took it on himself to break this record – actually smash it to little pieces. He planned a simultaneous exhibition against 500 players, which entailed walking for about 40 kilometers and staying awake and sharp for up to 24 hours.

The training phase: Morteza Mahjoob preparing for his physical ordeal

The GM had to be ready to walk 40 kilometers and stay awake and fit for 24 hours

The name of the world record attempt was Rokh-dar-rokh 500 (rook vs rook 500). The opening ceremony began on August 13th at 9:00 a.m., with nearly 700 participants (500 players and 200 reserve players) present. In addition there were nearly a thousand spectators at the playing venue "Yadegar-e-Emam", a multi-purpose sport saloon in the "Engelab Sport Complex" in Tehran.

A crowd has collected at 9:00 a.m. in front of the Engelab Sport Complex in Tehran

Dignitaries: Kiomars Hashemi, Vice President of the Iranian National Sports Organization;
FIDE Vice President Nizar Elhaj (middle), President of the Iranian Chess Federation Dr. Mohammad Ebarahim Maddahi (right)

The President of the Iranian Chess Federation Dr. Mohammad Ebarahim Maddahi

Iranian soccer star and manager Peyrovani is interviewed at the site

Iranian Taekwondo champion Behzad Khodadad (watch him in action here)

The President of the Iranian National Olympic committee, Mohammad Ali Abadi, who is also the Iranian vice President, some of his deputies were also at the location: FIDE Vice President Nizar Elhaj, who came as the official observer for FIDE, the President of the Iranian Chess Federation Dr. Mohammad Ebarahim Maddahi and many well-known Iranian sportsmen such as Hadi Saei, three times Olympic medal winner and recent Olympic Champion in Taekwondo, who is a member of the Tehran Council. Finally a number of famous actors and movie stars participated in the ceremony.

Preparing the venue for the mammoth event

Everything is in place, the simultaneous master and his opponents can start playing

Iranian TV talks to GM Morteza Mahjoob before the start of his record attempt

The GM and Hadi Saei, Olympic medalist in Taekwondo, are interviewed

The games officially started at 10:00 o'clock. The 500 players all were present at the time on their boards. GM Morteza Mahjoob executed his first five moves in two hours. The first (and only) break, for lunch, was after the ninth move at 14:30 to 15:00. After the break all players came back to their boards and games continued.

GM Morteza Mahjoob starts his simul on board one of five hundred at 10:00 a.m.

An Iranian lady helps her grandson to prepare for his game against the grandmaster

The master moves from board to board, making his first moves in this exhibition

1.Nf3 was one of the opening moves the grandmaster used

The jacket is off for the second round of moves

Just after midnight there were 130 players left. Many of them had no chance of winning, but they insisted on
playing on. There were some kids and semi-professional teenage players who resisted for more than 15 hours.
Their parents helped them by massaging them. Some of the players who hung on for 15 hours needed medical attention. One of Morteza Mahjoob's chess students, who is six years old, won his game against his teacher. This kid was amongst the last ten players in the simul.

A very youthful opponent, a student of the Master, won his game in the simul

At 23:30 Morteza had succeeded in achieving 88.42% over 364 boards. The remaining games continued and finally at 04:12 on August 14, 2009 he finished the last game.

The final result over 500 boards was: 397 wins, 90 draws, 13 loses, with total score of 442/500 points and score percentage of 88.4%.

The long cycle time between moves was not just tiring for the master

Even the older players felt the strain

Women's chess is definitely on the rise in Iran

The main sponsor of this event was Candy, an Italian producer of home appliances. The sponsor covered all organizing expenses as well as cash prizes for every winner and everybody who could make draw. There were also some prizes from their products, drawn by lottery, for spectators.

The organizer of the event was the Iran Chess Federation. Chief organizer and technical director was IO Hadi Karimi, Chief Arbiter was IA Hosseingholi Saloor, first deputy of chief arbiter was IA Hamid Reza Pourshahmari. Three other Deputy Arbiters were: IA N. Kananazar, IA F. Eskandary, IA. H. Kazemiashtiyani. Two FIDE Aribiters and 48 National Arbiters refereed in this event. Near 30 people helped in the organizing team.

The arbiters and organisers pose for a group photot

The oldest and youngest players were 81 and 4 years old. Many international and national rated players participated and showed stiff competition. Also three strong blind Iranian chess players competed all the way until the final hours.

A blind Iranian chess player amongst Mahjoob's simultaneous opponents

Many TV channels and other Media covered the event from beginning to end. The games had live coverage by IRIB3 (Iranian National broadcasting) for near two hours in three different segments. All daily newspapers as well as all news agencies put the event on the front page.

Flowers for the record-breaking GM from football manager Farhad Kazemi

The simultaneous master at the end of his 18-hour ordeal

All photos provided by Mehdi Mahjoob

Videos of the record simul (in Farsi)

Part one

Part two

Part three


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