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Baseball at 10 Boards an Hour Print E-mail
By Jennifer Shahade   
August 10, 2009
A beautiful setting for a chess simul

If as sportswriter Roger Kahn once wrote, baseball is like chess at 90 miles per hour, then a chess simul must be like baseball with ten balls at a time. Luckily, no fly balls intruded on the simuls that my father, FM Mike Shahade and I gave at a Lakewood Blueclaws game on August 3rd.

Mark Zaiger, an event coordinator for the BlueClaws, a minor league baseball team and Phillies (!) affiliate asked me to participate in their Chess Night. Almost 60 players signed up for the simul so I recruited my father as well. 45 players entered a blitz tournament, held right before the simul. Daniel Karbownik and Brian Meinders tied for first with 4.5/ 5 each.

Co-winners of the blitz, Brian Meinders and Daniel Karbownik
The two co-champs had the honor of throwing out a ceremonial first pitch. My father also enjoyed throwing out a pitch and would have stayed on the mound if not for the 27 opponents waiting for him. 
FM Mike Shahade throws out his pitch

We had some tough opponents in the simuls: I lost one, drew three and won all the rest. My dad had no losses and a few draws. One of his victims sent me the following game on facebook and had an "awesome time" despite his loss, "Your dad is a hoot, man! Spanked me on that chess board!"


My brother also came, so inspired by "Who Wants to Be A Millionaire"  we offered each player one "Call an IM" lifeline, in which they could call Greg over and ask for advice. The opportunity to learn from an International Master was a big hit, although I squirmed every time I saw Greg  generously mentoring over a board I thought was in the bag. In one case, I was totally lost, and my opponent asked Greg if he should offer me a draw. Greg said, "no-crush her!", and indeed I lost that game. grrrr.

IM Greg Shahade gives a lifeline.

Luckily, my opponent in the following position, Joseph Criscuolo had already used his lifeline (or maybe he was just ready to go home!), as otherwise I would have suffered two defeats:


Perhaps White hallucinated that there was no good way out of the checks so he accepted a draw after Kf7 Rc7+ but Ke6 just wins because my rook is on permanent watch of the c2-pawn, so I can't take on g7 and my checks are running out.

My favorite photos are below, you can see the full gallery on my personal website. 

It's a good year for baseball & chess. While promoting the 2009 US Championships this spring, I went with CCSCSL founder Rex Sinquefield on air with Mike Shannon at a Cardinals-Phillies Game.

Rusty Miller also organized a Chess Night at a Minor League Portland Beavers baseball game on July 28. That event featured "shortstop quads", a first pitch by Oregon State Chess Champion Carl Haessler and a simul by Chuck Schulien, the highest rated Oregon player. You can find out more about that event here. 
I thought I was racing my dad to see who finished first (he won), but in the end, I was also racing against the BlueClaws. As the home team locked in a 3-1 victory over the Hickory Crawdads, I was still hunched over my 24th game.

Chess Night Gallery

The sun is setting on the chess simul

FM Mike Shahade

A tough opponent

Mark Zaiger gets a ball signed for me!

FM Mike Shahade

Jennifer and Gregory Shahade