South Africa hosts its biggest simultaneous chess exhibition ever, 101 games played

History was made in South Africa on Sunday the 7th of January. Super chess Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura from the United States took part in the largest simultaneous exhibition ever to be held in South Africa and definitely one of the biggest simultaneous chess exhibitions to ever be held in Africa.

Shaking hands before the start of the game. CREDIT: Lennart Ootes

It’s been an Incredible week for South African chess with 2 massive events one after the other. One of the largest chess tournaments in the country, South African Junior Chess Championships (SAJCC) was followed by the largest simultaneous chess exhibition.

More handshakes before every game starts at the chess simul CREDIT – Lennart Ootes

Grandmaster Nakamura played 101 games at the same time against chess players from all over the country at the OR Tambo Conference Centre in Johannesburg. Out of 101 games the grandmaster lost just 2 games and 7 seven games. Just a day before the simultaneous chess exhibition, the grandmaster had visited Joubert Park in Johannesburg for a very eventful day of chess in the park.

Super Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura, fully focussed on the game at hand CREDIT: Lennart Ootes

And in one of the games that the grandmaster lost, that game lasted almost 6 hours so as one can easily see that the grandmaster was looking to win every single game in the simultaneous chess exhibition. That’s how competitive these players are. There are no easy games for anyone playing the GM and if you are going to win against a grand master you have to work incredibly hard.

Whenever Grandmaster Nakamura is playing chess, there is bound to be a can of Red Bull somewhere. Red Bull is one of the GM’s sponsors. CREDIT – Lennart Ootes
Chess is a serious game but there is still some time for a good laugh now and then. CREDIT: Lennart Ootes

It was not just a workout for the chess players facing Grandmaster Nakamura but also quite a physical workout for The Grandmaster himself. In completing all his games The Grandmaster made an average of 24 moves per game and by the time he had finished all the games he had made around 3000 moves in total. He walked about 4 and a half km to complete all the games and the simultaneous chess exhibition.

And now he is an account from one of Chess promoter, entrepreneur, player and coach Reuben Salimu, one of the very few players to draw against Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura.

Reuben Salimu played the super Grandmaster Nakamura and drew. Not a bad start to the year at all.

You can replay the game below where Grandmaster Nakamura was white and Reuben Salimu was black.

Below is the account of the game in Reuben’s own words.

Nakamura,Hikaru (2781) – Salimu,Reuben (1948) [C45]
SAJCC 2018 Simulaneous, 09.01.2016

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 The Scotch was not a surprise and I had refreshed on
the theory in the afternoon so I can safely say I was prepared for all main
lines here. 3…exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.e5 Qe7 7.Qe2 Nd5 All normal so
far and here I expected c4 of course and I am well versed in the critical
lines here and there is not much to fear for black. 8.h4!? Not new but
something I surely have never taken serious before and this is where I
started thinking. There is the obvious threat of 9. Bg5 when f6 damaging
blacks structure does not appear good, 9…Qb4 check and 10. c3 black wastes
time and 9… Qe6 I am not sure what the queen is doing there. 9… h6 does
not add value to the position so I thought 9…d6 opening up for the light
squared bishop makes sense and challenges the white anchor pawn on e5.
8…d6 9.c4 Nb6 Seemed pretty straightforward and relalvant to the positions
demands. [9…Ba6? Is not accurate anymore 10.exd6 cxd6 11.Qxe7+ Nxe7 With a
bit of congestion on blacks side.;
9…Nb4 10.a3 Na6 And the Knight is just wandering around] 10.exd6 Qxe2+
11.Bxe2 cxd6 12.0-0 Be6 [12…Be7 Would be slow and the initiative would
quickly shift to white after 13.Bf3 Bd7 14.Na3 With black on the defensive.]
13.b3 Be7 14.Bb2 0-0 [14…Bxh4 15.Bxg7 Rg8 16.Bd4 c5 17.Bc3 Bh3 18.Kh2
White is alright here.] 15.h5 d5 Best way to meet wing action is reacting in
the center. Its not hard imagining some sort of sacrifice on h6 opening the
g line and a rook lift. 16.Nd2 [16.cxd5 Nxd5 Gives black a huge command of
space to compensate for the structural weakneses.] 16…dxc4 17.Nxc4 Nxc4
18.bxc4 [18.Bxc4 Was probably better, getting rid of the weaker bishop.]
18…Rfd8 [18…Bc5 19.Rfd1 And black is late to the open file party.]
19.Bc3 I expected Rfd1 but this move keeps chances. 19…Bc5 Very important
because now if you compare the pieces blacks bishops area bit more active
than whites. 20.Rfd1 With hindsight maybe I rushed a bit here. 20…Rxd1+
[20…h6 Fixing the h5 weakness was a bit better.I was concerned that maybe
black can exchange on the d line and infiltrate on the b file. 21.Rxd8+ Rxd8
22.Rb1 f6 23.Rb7 But at the end of this line I have 23…Rd7 holding the
equilibrium.] 21.Rxd1 f6?! Overlooking whites next move.I wanted to play Rb8
but I was afraid of [21…Rb8 22.Be5 Re8 23.Bd4 Bxd4 24.Rxd4 Kf8 25.Rd6 and
I felt this was a better posittion for white.So when I played f6 it prevents
Be5 attacking the rook from the b file.] 22.h6 [22.Rb1 h6 23.Rb7 Rd8 24.Rc7
Rc8 Would be equal though again I felt white has an easier time here.]
22…Rb8 23.hxg7 Kxg7 Black has to field a bit more weaknesses than white ,
so I decided I had to amp up my activity so white does not have a moment to
start pressing my buttons. 24.g3 Rb6 With the idea of making a Rubinstein
rook (One which attacks forward, sideways, backwards and so on!) 25.Kg2 Ra6
I started feeling I had some winning chances here. 26.Rd2 Ra4 27.Rc2! Very
resourceful defence, using the discovered check. 27…Kf7 Narrow mindned
approach, this reactionary way of solving the problem loses all the chances
in the position. Because I view the discovered attack as something to be
overcome I move my king out of check. However there is more to the position.
[27…Bf5 I looked at this during the game but I was worried that after Rb2
white is starting to get active. 28.Rb2 I missed 28…Kg6 With a passive
position for white, exactly what black wants.] 28.Bd2 Bf5 29.Rb2 Bd4 I still
thought I was good here and I completely did not consider the following move
from Nakamura 30.Bd1! Completely extingusihing any hopes I had [30.Rb7+ I
had assumed Rb7 check was forced 30…Kg6 31.g4 Be4+ 32.Bf3 Bxf3+ 33.Kxf3
Rxc4 and black can hope for two results.(33…Rxa2? Would be wrong however
34.Be3 Ra3 35.Rc7 c5 36.Ke4 Bxe3 37.fxe3 And white is active enough to hold
the balance.) ] 30…Bxb2 [30…Ra3 31.Rb7+ Kg6 32.Bb3 and the black rook is
not comfortable.] 31.Bxa4 Bd3 32.Bb3 Bd4 I recieved a draw offer and I
accepted, ½-½

Reuben Salimu, playing black against Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura


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