Since about March of this year, I’ve been out of the chess scene, even stopping going to the Coral Springs Chess Club. Call it part business, part laziness. However, I did want to visit the club a couple more times before moving, and I got a call from Delbert, one of the members, who mentioned that there would be a Grandmaster simul. Never having participated in one before, I gladly plopped down the $15. (For non-chessies, a simul is when one guy plays multiple games at once, essentially making him a good bit weaker.)
Colombian Grandmaster Gildardo Garcia first had a lecture on one of the World Championship games, then we (disorganizedly) tried to form a decent arrangement for Mr. Garcia to perform the simul. There were maybe 20 of us, an average rating I’d guess about a high class B. We finally stuffed ourselves in, and got clarified rules: each person could get 3 passes, and we would make our move when Garcia arrived at the table.
GM Garcia was White, and for the first move, shook each person’s hand, and simply alternated e4 and d4 as he bounced from board to board. I was at the receiving end of the powerful 1. e4!, gaining central space and opening diagonals for his Queen and Bishop. I really only considered two openings: the Pirc (d6) and, inspired by chessloser, the Reverse Grob (g5). I never play e5, and he’d be way too knowledgeable about the Sicilian for me to hope to keep up. As he came around for his second move, I noticed someone else played the Scandanavian Defense (d5), probably to try to throw him off. And as tempting as the Reverse Grob was, it would have been suicide against someone with his ability, so I stuck with the Pirc.
Although I shouldn’t jump to conclusions, I got the impression that he hasn’t seen the Pirc as much, based on the speed at which he played the opening at other boards. It might have taken him a little out of his element (as much as you can do with a GM, I suppose).
I hadn’t seen anyone play 4. Be2 before, but it looked familiar, with the words “Averbach variation” and “Kingside storm” kept coming to mind. I was determined to hold off on castling until seeing White’s intentions (promptly forgetting this resolution on move 5).
White’s 10th and 11th moves were subpar. This allowed me to either win a Pawn or the two Bishops, and I was agonizing over the decision until he got to the board. I figured that I’m not good enough to know how to take advantage of the two Bishops imbalance, so I eat the Pawn, figuring I can throw it back if things got desperate.
And another thought occurred to me right around then: as time went on and games started to finish, GM Garcia would get stronger and stronger. Assuming I lasted a while, I’d probably have to get myself a fairly sizable advantage to hold off someone of his superior technique and experience. Not long after, right around move 12, someone already bit the dust. And several others died around move 20.
Unfortunately, I made a poor move right around then. Happy to exchange Queens, I ended up plopping my Knight on a square that allowed White to pin it. While I didn’t lose material, I lost several tempos by having to unpin the Knight and re-coordinate disconnected Rooks. Fortunately, White’s 22 wasn’t good and gave a little back: he picked up his Rook to play Rad1, but saw my reply Nd3. Because he touched the Rook, he was forced to move it instead of considering something more effective.
I did end up picking up another Pawn, my material advantage was not very comfortable. Eventually, we agreed to a draw. Looking at the final position, that’s winnable, but it was late and he was up to nearly full strength (only two other boards were playing). I’d be killing myself if I screwed up the ending somehow, so decided to offer the draw.
The final tally for Garcia was +16 -1 =3 (a class A player got the win, and I’d be interested in seeing that game).
1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6 4. Be2 Bg7 5. Nf3 O-O 6. O-O c6 7. Be3 b5 8. a3 Nbd7 9. Re1 a6 10. e5 Ng4 11. e6 fxe6 12. Ng5 Nxe3 13. fxe3 Nf6 14. e4 h6 15. Nf3 g5 16. Qd3 c5 17. e5 dxe5 18. dxe5 Qxd3 19. Bxd3 Nd5 20. Be4 Bb7 21. Ne2 Rab8 22. Rac1 Ne3 23. Ng3 Nf5 24. Nxf5 exf5 25. Bxb7 Rxb7 26. Rcd1 Rc8 27. e6 Bxb2 28. Rd7 Rcc7 29. Rd5 Rcc6 30. Rxf5 Rbb6 31. h4 gxh4 32. Re4 Rxe6 33. Rg4 Rg6 34. Re4 Rbf6 35. Nxh4 Rg5 36. Rxg5 hxg5 37. Nf3 Bxa3 38. Rxe7 c4 39. Re5 Rg6 40. Nxg5 Bb2 41. Rd5 Bd4+ 42. Kf1 Rf6+ 43. Nf3 Bc3 44. Ke2 Rg6 45. Ng5 Bf6 46. Ne4 Rxg2+ 47. Kf3 Rg6