GM Alik Gershon sets new Guinness World Record for simultaneous games

Gershon plays against 523 opponents, wins against 454

Alik Gershon

Israeli grandmaster Alik Gershon broke the Guinness World Record for simultaneous chess games. Gershon played against 523 chess players from all over the world at Rabin Square, Tel Aviv. He won 454 games (86% of the total games), lost 11 and drew the other 58, which is enough for a new World Record.

Gershon needed to win at least 80 percent to seal the record, which previously stood at 500 simultaneous games, set by Iranian Grandmaster Mahjoob in August 2009.

The tournament had started under the blazing midday sun on Thursday with Alik Gershon shaking hands with every single player as he walked along rows of tables lined with chess boards. “There are a lot of kilometres to walk and you have to stay focused,” he told AFP on Thursday, noting that his Iranian coleague Morteza Mahjoob, walked 40 kilometres (25 miles) to secure his record a few months ago.

“Hopefully all our wars against Iran will be on the chess board,” said a smiling Gershon. “For such wars, I am prepared.”

More about the World Record

In 1996 the legendary Swedish GM Ulf Andersson set the official record playing against 310 opponents. Eight years later the English IM Andrew Martin faced 321 opponents with an amazing score of 95.64% (294+ 1- 26=)!

This record held just a year when former female world champion GM Susan Polgar challenged in summer 2005 326 players at the same time (and 1131 in total).

In February last year it was the Bulgarian renowned GM Kiril Georgiev who astonished the chess community as well as the general public when he needed just 14 hours to overcome a field of 360 players beating 284, drawing 70 and losing just six (88%).

However the best was yet to come unexpectedly in the Iranian capital last summer. GM Morteza Mahjoob set the current shocking record playing 500(!) games at the very same time, winning 397, drawing 90 and losing just 13 (88.4%).. His oldest rival was 81 and the youngest just 4 years old and the entire exhibition lasted almost 19 hours after which the new record holder was still able to drive his car home all by himself!

About the new record holder: He was born in Dnepropetrovsk (Ukraine) in 1980 and learned the rules of the game at two (according to his father), starting a serious “professional” career when he was five years old. He immigrated to Israel with his family at the end of 1990 and in 1993 he was already Israel u-16 champion.

It was just a year later when he was crowned as the world u -14 champion (Szeged, Hungary 1994) and it took him another two years to become the world u-16 champion too (Cala Goldana, Spain 1996). Alik was awarded with the IM title in 1997 and became a grandmaster when he was 20. Then he already saw the peak of his career when he won the national title for adults (together with GM Boris Avrukh).

Away of the board he had already two remarkable achievements: He was the founder and editor –in –chief of the first Israeli chess online weekly “Schachnet” and was the co-author (with Igor Nor) of the best seller “St Luis 2005″ which was praised worldwide and earned him the prestigious “Book of the Year” award by the British Chess Federation. Though he still plays for Kfar-Saba club at the top Israeli division, he actually quit professional chess already in 2005 for software engineering studies.

New record attempt coming

International Master Dean Ippolito from New Jersey is also attempting to break the record of 500 simultaneous chess games. Read more about it here.