Schmid (right) at the Fischer v Spassky match.

Have you ever played a grandmaster?  Ever beaten a grandmaster?  Surely playing against one of the world’s elite chess players is a big thrill for a young player and, if you are obsessed with chess as I was when I was young, then the chance to play such a player is something not to be missed.   In 1967 GM Averbach toured Australia and I was one of the lucky juniors who got to play him in a simul when he came to Melbourne.   A few years later in 1971 I played in a simul against Portisch and remember how he castled queenside against my Kings Indian Defence then calmly moved his King to b1, opened the “c” file and crushed me on the queenside.   I was impressed with how solidly he played.

A few years later I even got to play in a simul against former World Champion, Max Euwe, who visited Australia in 1973 I think it was.  I was a pretty strong senior by then and was helping the two juniors sitting beside me in the simul. Jordan on the left and Bartnik on the right.  Should have paid more attention to my game.  They both won.  I lost.

Last night German GM Igor Khenkin (2659 rating) gave a simul at the Box Hill Chess Club.   I haven’t heard the results yet, but I persuaded one of my keen students, Gary Lin, to play against the GM so it will be interesting to see how he went.

Of course giving a simul is a significant handicap to the simul giver as they have maybe 5 seconds per move whereas the participants have 2 or 3 minutes to think before the GM arrives back at their board.   Never-the-less it is rare for the GM to lose a game at these exhibitions and a victory against them is something to be cherished.   It is with some pride therefore that I show you my first ever win against a GM (albeit in a simul) when I played the German GM Lothar Schmid in the Glen Shopping Centre in 1971.   Schmid was umpire of the famous Fischer v Spassky match and owns the largest private library of chess books in the world.  The strange thing about the game was that Schmid had two queens!  He was trying hard to find a way to break my defence and commented in his thick German accent “It’s not zo easy mit de two queens, yah?”  We arrived at the following position with Black to play.  I was hoping that if my queen could keep defending f7 White may not be able to break-through, but with only seconds for each move I got lucky and the grandmaster missed a tactic.  Your puzzle today is to find Black’s next move, which gives White a chance to go wrong, and how Black responds to White’s erroneous reply.

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