They said it couldn’t be done: senior and Chess Grandmaster Robert Hess played 21 simultaneous chess games after tenth period on Tuesday, April 13 in the first floor lobby. Hess won 19 of the games and drew the other two. This was his second simultaneous exhibition at Stuyvesant; the first was held last spring. Hess achieved Grandmaster status last April.
“It was really fun. A lot of people really wanted to play and there were a lot of people watching so it was a really great time,” Hess said. The free exhibition was held to give members of the Stuyvesant community a chance to play against a Grandmaster.
Tables for the games were set up in a row in order to facilitate Hess’s ease of movement. The games were open to anyone who wanted to play, with seats reserved for chess club members. Players recorded their moves on a provided sheet of paper, and waited for Hess to pass by to make their moves. “It was really tiring, I walked around a lot and I probably burned a lot of calories doing that,” Hess said. “But it was really fun.”
Spectators crowded around the tables to watch the matches. The last game was completed approximately one hour and 15 minutes after the matches began, while the first game to end was concluded in 30 minutes, with Hess victorious.
After the first defeat, people began losing their games to Hess at a rapid pace. “It was intense because I had no idea what he was doing and he did [each move] in less than three seconds every time,” freshman David Flomenbaum said.
The event attracted players from all grades, as well as a teacher. “It’s fun to play a famous player,” social studies teacher Bill Boericke said. “In this game I actually played him very even for a long time […] but then we got to very active pace play and he’s much faster.” Boericke was a serious chess player in his youth and has participated in previous simultaneous exhibitions against Grandmasters. However, Boericke decided to play Hess “just for the challenge,” he said.
One of the matches resulting in a draw ended early by repetition; wherein the white and black players both repeat the same moves three times in a row and the game cannot advance. Hess’s queen was captured in the opening of the other draw but Hess was able to catch up and tie.
“I am […] very happy to play against someone as strong as him, which I have never done before,” said sophomore Nick Ryba, whose game was one of the two to end in a draw. “It felt really good to draw him, since he’s such a good player.”