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Ray Robson vs. 30 of our Best Players!

America's youngest grandmaster
Featured on the December 2010 cover of Chess Live, magazine of the U.S. Chess Federation

On November 21st, 2010, the extraordinary chess prodigy Ray Robson came to our little town and took on 30 of our best local chess enthusiasts. We gave him good competition -- the toughest, he said, that he has met in a simultaneous chess exhibit so far ... but among the 30 of us we only secured a single draw, and 29 losses!

Here is a little photo essay about this amazing performance.

Meet Ray Robson. 16-year-old certified chess grandmaster since the age of 14. He was the youngest American ever to attain the grandmaster title (even younger than Fischer who earned the title at 15), and Ray Robson is still the youngest grandmaster in America today. A good natured and unassuming teenager, Ray put on a breathtaking performance at the chessboards - and was a pleasure to lose to!

Bob Schleppi is the undisputed master chess coordinator of our modest chess-loving town. Here he is, laying the ground rules and putting out the good vibe which set the tone for our very excited contenders.

What anticipation! Here we sat, hanging on every word. The fellow in the center was our youngest participant; and the young man farthest on the right with glasses - he's the only one of us who managed a draw.

And where did we get all those beautiful wooden chess sets for the event? Furnished by of course!

A very active part of the Ray Robson team is dad and coach Gary Robson! Gary has written a fascinating book about raising Ray from his first chess moves on the kitchen floor to the rapidly rising chess star he is today. Highly recommended reading! Check it out at This Link

Everyone enjoys a little chess-child-raising humor ... as the tension builds!

A little pan around the room shows you who we've got. Let's just say, I've seen the best minds of my generation destroyed at the chessboard on that fateful day...

Yes, we did have one woman playing, among us old boys...

...a little press coverage... That empty seat with the coffee cup and the Chess Child book is my place, sitting next to my good chess buddy Emmy.

...and those are the guys at the far end of the room, completing the arc. Thirty very serious chess players!

And there it is - the first move of the game! We were all expecting P-K4 (e4), well known as Ray's favorite opening. It didn't take long for the games to get underway as our young champion dove right in.

My board was no exception - P-K4 (e4)! I was as ready as I could be.

I was surprised to see my neighbor with something a little different. Ray had kicked this one off with the king's knight and queen bishop's pawn. Interesting! And also an interesting response on the black side, surprisingly similar to the curious finachetto defense I attempted....

You can see by the lookers-on here that what we had was much more than a bunch of chess games. It was a real performance! We were giving it our best making the young genius prove himself. He's seen here moving against our local chess coach and favorite son Greg High. Greg has won many games against grandmasters over the years ... but not this one!

It seems like Ray has ambushed my buddy's rook pawn here (and counting them up I think he's already got another one) - but the way the grandmaster hovers intently over the board, you can see he's looking far beyond a couple of pawn grabs.

If there was one thing that made me feel honored in this game it was the fact that the Ray really stopped and thought about his moves at my board. Could it be that I was giving the champion a good game? Such ideas were pretty well dashed after Ray's 19th move. Notice how the white pawns are parading right down the center of my board. Such audacity!

That's me, looking on dreamily after the white knight was planted crushingly on K6 (e6). I was running out of hope, but still a very willing participant.

Nothing to do but follow through. Take the pawn before it takes my knight, never mind that I was opening my king side to a hopeless security breach.

The drama continues against our grandmaster-eating coach. The young fellow at his right, David Wyde, was the one player among us to manage a draw against the grandmaster.

A detail of my hopeless position. Down the exchange, and hoping for some action by taking his bishop pawn (Bxc4), I was defenseless against his reply, Q-R5 (Q-h5), threatening checkmate and all sorts of nasty things!

The games go on. You can see that the young fella has a whole lot of kindly old men thinking very seriously about their little wooden pieces.

A gracious handshake when I finally admitted defeat. My litte monkeys hanging on surely didn't grasp the gravity of the moment.

The whole thing went much longer than expected - we were close to being kicked out of our host library as the clock approached 6 PM.

...and there was that one stubborn lingering game. David Wyde had a pawn ... and if he only could have pushed it to the end of the board ... (but he couldn't)

A crowd gathers round to squeeze the last bit of blood out of this epic drama.

A sign of the end, our town coach has seen enough. Packing his bag, he knows that the last game will have no winner.

And of course, all through this marvelous performance, for the many lookers-on and chess aficionados, (that's me, Rick) had laid out a grand display of world chess. A veritable portable museum of the great historic game. (A few more pictures of that follow)...

And now, for your viewing pleasure, stay with us just a couple more minutes
to take in the live video clips of the day's events
(stay tuned past the 'world chess' blurbs to see Ray in action!)...

That's the story! But before you go, let me remind you of one little thing:
The book Chess Child is a must-read. Click here to order

Click here to send comments, questions and further ruminations


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