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Saint Louis Psychs Up for U.S. Champs Print E-mail
By Jennifer Shahade   
May 3, 2009
The many expressions of Margaret Hua, one of my opponents in a promotional simul at the Saint Louis Science Center. Photos and montage by Betsy Dynako

This weekend, I arrived in Saint Louis for a series of promotional events leading up to the U.S. Championship, which starts Friday, May 8, 3 PM EST.

First up was a 26-board simul at Saint Louis's Science Center. It was one of my longest simuls ever, and certainly the longest in proportion to the number of boards. All the players were members of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, and so probably more active and sharp than in my average simul. Normally, 20-25 board simuls take me about 2.5 to three hours, while this one lasted over 4.5 hours!! I usually finish simuls more quickly because a few players drop pieces or mates early in, whereas at the Science Center, I think it took me an hour to win a pawn on any of the boards. In the end, I lost four games, won 18 and drew four.
One of my toughest opponents at the Science Center simul. Photo Betsy Dynako

I was really impressed my youngest opponent, Jason. He was only five years old and he played incredibly well. He developed soundly, attacked and defended in equal measure, and only lost after several hours.  Watch out for this kid!
Me vs. a very tough five year old, Photo Betsy Dynako

The DGT board which was relayed on the big screen was against Margaret Hua, who played well but underestimated the power of two bishops in the endgame.

Kevin Cao, Photo Betsy Dynako
Among my four losses were the two against the youngsters recorded below, Kevin Cao and William Nesham.

Against Cao, I saw the variation with Qxg5 when playing 15.Bxf7, but I had two thoughts, 1. Maybe it's not that bad, and 2. Maybe he won't see the line taking three pieces for the queen and play Ke7 instead. Unfortunately, I was wrong on both counts.



One of my favorite games was against Larry Stendbach from the media and tech team at the CCSCSL. I'm always looking for double attacks to show my students, and certainly 20.fxg3 would qualify as an unusual one.


Another instructive game was against the top rated kid from the simul Henry Cao. When he played Nxg4, I had this sinking feeling, "This is going to be really tough to defend in a simul", but it was easier to regroup than I anticipated.


On Sunday, kids from the area painted a bus with a chess theme, which will drive around Saint Louis for an entire year. The project is part of the"Art That Moves You" program.

The next event is a panel discussion for Marcel Duchamp: The Art of Chess on Tuesday, 6 PM at the Chess Club! If you live within striking distance, I hope to see you there or at one of the nine rounds of the Chess Championship. Check out some more photos from the simul and the painting of the bus by Betsy Dynako. Find many more photos from Betsy tomorrow on uschesschamps.com.


A Science Center simul spectator checks out Marcel Duchamp: The Art of Chess

If it wasn't for my running, the simul probably would have lasted all night

Kids painting the bus

The final product!