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Friday, October 22, 2010

Israeli GM Alik Gershon sets world record for biggest simul

Chess news and chess trivia blog (c) Alexandra Kosteniuk, 2010

GM Alik Gershon at his World Record Simul in Israel on Friday.

Hello Everyone,

Grandmaster Alik Gershon, 30, of Israel has set a new Guinness World Record for the biggest simul ever played. He took on 523 players in a marathon 19-hour event.

"It's a very sweet feeling," he said after having the record confirmed. "It's something which we prepared for for a very long time; we couldn't have failed. I am very, very happy that I made it."

He won 86 percent of the games he played against amateurs in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square. He won 454, lost 11 and drew the other 58. He needed to win at least 80 per cent to set the record which previously stood at 500 simultaneous games.

As he played his final move on the very last chess board at around 5:30 am (0330 GMT), Gershon shook the player's hand before raising his arms in victory as the first light of dawn broke over the square.

The tournament had started on Thursday afternoon. Training for the event, which was sponsored by the quasi-governmental Jewish Agency and the Israeli Chess Federation, was purely physical and included a lot of jogging and swimming, the former Israeli champion said.

"There are a lot of kilometres to walk and you have to stay focused," he told AFP on Thursday, noting that his Iranian predecessor, Morteza Mahjoob, walked 40 kilometres (25 miles) to secure his record.

Mahjoob set his record in August 2009 in a feat which took him 18 hours and with less than five seconds for each move.

"Hopefully all our wars against Iran will be on the chess board," said a smiling Gershon. "For such wars, I am prepared."

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