Roaming inside a square composed of five tables, chess expert and teacher Bruce Pandolfini, of "Searching for Bobby Fisher" fame, played and won 20 games of chess at the same time. Pandolfini was the guest speaker at Oberlin Chess Club's Grand Prix tournament last weekend, for which the 20-game simultaneous exhibition was the concluding event.
Pandolfini is the first guest since the tournament's inception to win all 20 games. "He told me he has a good sense of a person's style of play from teaching," senior Angie Roberts, chess club liaison, said, "he can determine really easily what their strengths and weaknesses are and win."
Pandolfini was the basis for the character Larry Fishburne played in "Searching for Bobby Fisher." Pandolfini was also an expert chess advisor to the film's producers.
The tournament was held in Carnegie Root Room. Over 90 people, ranging in age and experience from elementary school students to Grand Masters, took part in the tournament.
This was the fourth year in which the Oberlin Chess Club has hosted a tournament, but it was their first Grand Prix tournament. Grand Prix tournaments are part of an ongoing nation-wide tournament which culminate in a national Grand Prix championship. Prizes for the tournament totaled $4500 and came from the registration fees of the participants. Prizes went to the winners in each of six categories, ranging from open to Expert rating.
Sophomore Elias Sardonis recounted one of his games.
"One of my best games was against a 7-year-old," Sardonis said. "She lost a tooth after the game. I've never played against someone with a loose tooth during a game before."
Sardonis explained that the girl opened with a Queen's Gambit. This is a move in which a pawn is sacrificed in return for an opportunity to gain control of the center of the board. However, Sardonis did not take her pawn.
"She kept coming up with these brilliant ways to refute my advance. There were people standing around because she had to sit on her knees to see the board," Sardonis said. "She moved faster than I did, but I eventually, with much work, managed to win. I think that when she starts to think more before she moves she's going to be quite a player."
Chess star flexes his muscles: Bruce Pandolfini won all 20 games of chess against members of the Oberlin chess team and community members. (photo courtesy of Angela Roberts)
Copyright © 1998, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 126, Number 16, February 27, 1998
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