Several moves ahead
“I’m losing to a grandmaster; I feel so special!” one sixth-grader chirped. Another student thought he was playing “Boris Evans.”
When you’ve caught the chess bug, it’s nice to have a grandmaster in town—even if you’re too young to grasp what a grandmaster is.
For the record, “grandmaster” is a lifetime title given to a chess master at the highest level of competition. Grandmaster Larry Evans, the prolific chess writer whose career includes victories over world champions, lives in Reno, and he graciously drove a few miles down U.S. 395 to the Virginia Foothills to take on the Brown Elementary School Chess Club in a simultaneous exhibition on Feb. 11.
In a “simul,” a player takes on a number of opponents at the same time, moving board to board. Thirty-one boys and nine girls, aged 5 to 12, squared off against Evans. Since the school lacked 40 complete chess sets, 10 of the students paired up at boards, for a total of 30 games.
As Evans hustled in a circle among cafeteria tables, he kindly instructed some students on making better opening moves and tolerated it that more than one parent was liberal with advice.
After 75 minutes, 23 boards were still active, but the number rapidly diminished as Evans scored checkmate after checkmate. His final opponent, 12-year-old Sean-Luke Brija, succumbed in a rook-and-pawn endgame at the two-hour mark.
Sean-Luke earned an autographed copy of Evans’ 100 Easy Checkmates. The signature read "Larry," not "Boris."