Simultaneous Exhibitions: Explained

A simultaneous chess game (more commonly known as a simultaneous exhibition) is a type of chess exhibition, in which one player (known as the host) plays against several other players simultaneously. Let’s learn more about simuls together!

What is a Simultaneous Exhibition?

In a simultaneous exhibition (simul for short) the host player moves from board to board, making a single move each time. The hosts are usually experienced players, often Grandmasters, while the participants have various playing strengths.

There are three main types of simuls:

Regular Simuls

In regular simuls, the host usually plays with the White pieces, moving from board to board in a predetermined order, playing a move each time. Even though time is not a constraint, the host will usually try to avoid lengthy thinking pauses, making mistakes and blunders more common.

Exhibitions with Clocks (Clock Simuls)

In clock simuls, all games are played on a time constraint, measured by a chess clock. Usually, the number of participants is lower in clock simuls, as the host has a significant time advantage with his clock ticking on all boards at the same time.

Blindfold Simul Games

The hardest type of simultaneous exhibition for the host is undoubtedl the blindfold simul. Here is Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen playing a blindfold simultaneous exhibition in 2015:

In blindfold simuls, the host doesn’t see the board, remembering the moves in their head. Obviously, this requires extreme skill and is even tougher than clock simuls.

How To Play in A Chess Simul

If you’re lucky enough be a participant in a chess simul, here are some tips for drawing or even winning your game against a way better player:

  • Play a solid opening you now well. A lot of simul games are decided right in the opening. Grandmasters know all common openings by heart; there is no tricking them! So, make sure to play a solid opening that you feel comfortable with.
  • Play aggressively in the middlegame. The middlegame is your best bet to create a winning position. The host will lack the time to calculate deep variations, which is your chance to surprise them.
  • Don’t be afraid to exchange pieces. Even though the exhibition host will be stronger in the endgames, he will lack the time to calculate precisely. Make sure you play accurately and take your time to calculate all variations.

The tips are courtesy of the Dutch grandmaster Jan Hein Donner, who published them in his 2006 book “The King: Chess Pieces”, collected from Wikipedia.

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