An explanation for non chess players:
A "simul" is a simultaneous exhibition given when a player takes on many opponents at the same time. They are usually given by top rated players and when a grandmaster of the expertise of Portisch, Euwe or Spassky gives one the competition to get a board is fierce.
Susan Polgar was equally sought out. At the time she visited Sydney she was the world's top rated woman. She was not the women's world champion only because she had never played in the event—she knew she could reach a higher level by concentrating on men's events.
Susan's younger sister Judit has now surpassed her and has done something no other woman has ever achieved. She has secured a rating among the top ten players in the world. Judit Polgar is the only woman in history with a realistic chance of winning the world championship.
GM Lajos Portisch giving a simul at Sydney's Maroczy Chess Club.
Spot the Rooty Hill player—the first correct entry gets to buy me lunch!
Photograph by Geza Loja.
In 1971 Lajos Portisch, then rated in the world's top ten, was invited to Australia for the Karlis Lidums Tournament in Adelaide. Florin Georghiu, Alexander Matanovic and Lothar Schmid, were also invited.
Portisch was the favourite to win and performed as expected, although sometimes in unexpected ways. After he had used a rare opening move in one game a chess journalist asked him, "Was that in the book?" Portisch replied sardonically, "I have my own book." Another game that caused comment was his victory over Fred Flatow who won the Australian Championship about that time. Flatow played 9. ...Be6 to reach the following position to which Portisch replied 10. exf6, "sacrificing" his queen for three minor pieces.
His knights and bishop then harried Fred's leading lady like a pack of jackals attacking a lion. To see the whole game CLICK HERE.
Thanks to the miracle of the Internet we are able to bring you three more of Portisch's games from the 1971 Lidums Tournament.
Former World Chess Champion
Dr Max Euwe
After winning in Adelaide Portisch toured Australia. He gave a simul at the Maroczy Chess Club – at that time a strong Hungarian club located near Haymarket in Sydney. I'd been playing for about six months then and, as a member at Maroczy's, I was lucky enough to get a seat at one of the boards.
I can still hear Portisch's immortal words ringing in my ears. When he arrived at my position he said, "The board is wrong!" (Somebody had set it up with the black square in the right hand corner.) What I remember best about the game was his black bishop. It sat on b2 for the entire game and never moved. It just watched—but, boy, how it watched! It dominated my whole position.
A year or two later when Max Euwe visited Sydney as part of a chess promotional tour he also played a simul at Maroczy's. He was in his late seventies and to a young bloke like me that seemed ancient, but he hadn't lost much much in the way of ability. After the simul one guy, a former state champion, explained to Euwe how he should have beaten him, if only he had played this instead of that. Heard that before, huh? Euwe wasn't about to argue—he just shrugged and said, "It may be so."
When the Polgar sisters visited during the 1980s I had the chance to play Zsuzsa. The simul was at the Hakoah Club and the fee for dinner and a simul was $30. Pretty reasonable. It proved to be even more reasonable for me because when the Hakoah Chess Club committee received my cheque they realised I was from the Blue Mountains and returned it. They treated me as a guest because I was a "country visitor". It was a generous gesture and much appreciated. I enjoyed the game even if the result was predictable.
It proved to be a set of simultaneous simuls with the three sisters strutting their stuff at the same time, with the younger girls (they were only kids then) playing fewer opponents than their older sister.
Former World Chess Champion
Boris Spassky—giving a simul.
Playing Zsuzsa (Susan now, but she was Zsuzsa then) was like playing chess with a boa constrictor. She wrapped her pawns around my position and just squoze!
I was talking to Lloyd Fell recently (that's Lloyd S not Lloyd R) and he said he played some lightning games with Sophia Polgar while they were here. She played a King's Gambit against him and although Lloyd admitted to being an expert with the KG he said he couldn't do a thing with her. She was just too good.
If Lloyd is a King's Gambit expert by Australian standards, Boris Spassky is one of the world's leading authorities on the opening. In this simul from London in 1978, Spassky came unstuck playing the KG against an English teenager. How does that relate to simuls played in Sydney? Well, that teenager is now a member of the Rooty Hill Chess Club. His name is Gary Lane. Here's the game.
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