FM Marc Lang sets new blindfold simul record of 46 boards
Last weekend a German chess player played a simultaneous exhibition blindfolded over 46 boards in Sontheim an der Brenz, Germany. With a score of 34.5-11.5 in a simul that lasted 21 hours and 9 minutes, 41-year-old FM Marc Lang (2306) improved upon Miguel Najdorf's famous (but not universally recognized) record from 1947.
Marc Lang in a press photo for the promotion of the event
Marc Lang's blindfold simul took place in the Gemeindehalle in Sontheim an der Brenz, a municipality in southern Germany, almost exactly between Stuttgart and Munich. It wasn't the first time that Lang, a 41-year-old computer programmer (married, 2 children), tried the toughest form of chess possible. The member of chess club Sontheim/Brenz played a simul over 35 boards in November 2010, thereby setting a new German and European record. He surpassed the previous European record of 34 games set by George Koltanowski at Edinburgh, Scotland in 1937.
According to some sources, including the Guiness Book of Records, Koltanowski's achievement still counts as the official blindfold simul chess world record. On Wikipedia it says that
later both Miguel Najdorf and Janos Flesch claimed to have broken that record, but their efforts were not properly monitored the way that Koltanowski's was. Najdorf's first record in Rosario, Argentina was against 40 opponents (+36 =1 -3) and was organised in an effort to gain sufficient publicity to communicate to his family that he was still alive, as he had remained in Argentina after travelling from his native Poland to compete in the 1939 Chess Olympiad. He increased this record to 45 opponents in São Paulo in 1947, with the result of 39 wins, four draws and two losses. The Guinness Book of Records does not acknowledge Najdorf's record, because he allegedly had access to the scoresheets, and there were multiple opponents per board. Koltanowski claimed that he could have managed 100 games under those conditions. However, Najdorf's record is considered legitimate by other sources.
The last increase in the record was claimed by the Hungarian Janos Flesch in Budapest in 1960, playing 52 opponents with 31 wins, 3 draws, and 18 losses. However, this record attempt has been somewhat sullied by the fact that Flesch was permitted to verbally recount the scores of the games in progress. It also took place over a remarkably short period of time, around five hours, and included many short games.
Apparently Marc Lang himself considered Najdorf's achievement as a valid record, because a year after 'beating' Koltanowski he put his number of boards to one more than Najdorf: 46. And he managed: Lang successfully broke Najdorf's record that wasn't touched for 64 years!
The simul started on Saturday, November 28th at 09:45 hrs and finished on Sunday morning at 06:54 (21:09 hours). Marc Lang scored 34.5 out of 46, his opponents 11.5. Lang won 25 games, drew 19 and lost only 2. The strength of his opponents varied between around 1000 as a national rating and 2138 FIDE, but most of them were below 1700 and so over 600 points weaker than Lang himself. However, they could all see the board!
Video by Frank Hoppe
On Sunday night at 22:26 Lang wrote on the official site:
I'm still groggy - when I got home, I could barely keep my eyes open and went straight to bed. When I woke up it was already dark outside and my head throbbed like a truck. (...) Now my mind can handle at best a Donald Duck, but probably not even that.
There were some side events as well. Vlastimil Hort played a (regular) simul while Jan Gustafsson played handicap blitz chess. Guest of honour was 1972 javelin throwing Olympic champion Klaus Wolfermann, who performed the first move.
In July of this year Marc Lang had already broken the world record for playing many rapid blindfold games in succession (but not simultaneously). According to Blindfoldchess.net this exhibition (also held in Sontheim) lasted 14 hours and his score was 45 wins, 11 draws, and 4 losses, a wining percentage of 84%.