Sumptuous simul in Versailles

by Albert Silver
7/2/2015 – Simuls are a time-honored way for amateurs to play a strong player, and to help promote the game to a wider audience. While ever-popular, it is hard to innovate on the formula, yet the Chess Club of Versailles did their best to do just that. With the help of IM François Vareille, a simul was organized in the great Versailles palace with participants dressed in era costumery.

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The day's activities were held in honor of André Danican Philidor, the father of the comic opera
in France, and the greatest chess player of his day

Held in the sumptuous Galerie des Batailles (Gallery of Battles) at Versailles

The Galerie des Batailles (Gallery of Battles) is a 120 metre long and 13 metre wide gallery
conceptualized by Louis-Philippe I, and was intended to glorify French military history from
the Battle of Tolbiac (traditionally dated 495) to the Battle of Wagram (5–6 July 1809). Above
is a painting by François-Joseph Helm of Louis-Philippe opening the Gallery on 10 June 1837.

The team behind the Versailles Chess Club with the president Jean François (rear right)
and Patrick Claisse, the club's correspondent (rear left)

IM François Vareille, who conducted the simul, was also prominently dressed in era attire, and
took on all-comers for hours on end. By the end of the day he had taken on no fewer than 60
opponents in all, with 56 wins, two losses, and two draws.


A small video excerpt of the simul

François was not the only player following fashion a few centuries old as can be seen by his
opponents here, unusually dressed as Richelieu and a Musketeer. If one goes by the classic
tale by Alexandre Dumas
, the musketeers were king's men and at odds with the cardinal.
A warm thanks to Michel Rauche for the photo.

Dressing up this way must have taken great effort, and the ladies shine with their beautiful costumes.


Even the younger participants joined the fun as demonstrated by this little princess


A final video of the beautiful simul that could not but capture the imagination of passersby

Photos and videos by Philippe Dornbusch (Chess & Strategy)

Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications, and the content creator of the YouTube channel, Chess & Tech.


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