EDSS will be the scene of skill and critical thinking as Elmira’s resident chess expert, Scott Kuehl, will take on students and teachers over their lunch hour on May 6 in simultaneous play. The event will see Kuehl take on several opponents at once in multiple games.
According to Kuehl, there are two types of simultaneous play; the first is where one player physically walks around and makes moves at each game, the second is called “blindfold chess,” where the player doesn’t actually see the boards and they make every move from memory.
“Only so many people actually can do that,” Kuehl explained of the latter form, noting the record number of blindfolds simultaneously is 75.
“Seventy-five opponents, at the same time, remembering all those positions on every board just in his mind. Personally, I think he’s crazy. I can’t do that. I know I can’t do that, but a simultaneous, that I should be able to do because the board is right there in front of me,” he said.
Kuehl first got introduced to the game by his dad and grandfather when he was a kid.
“I was basically a nerd at school. We actually did have a travel chess team, and the three or four of us would travel to various other schools that also had a team and you play. I don’t know if such a thing even exists anymore,”
Over time, he became quite skilled at the game.
“I was the one that usually would win. If everybody else would lose, I would still win. It’s basically the only time I ever got to shine in the limelight.”
Kuehl is using the upcoming event to promote chess in southwestern Ontario. He’s been a booster of the game for years.
“Even though chess is starting to open up in Ontario, there still isn’t very much in southern Ontario. There’s an event this year in Port Elgin, one in Collingwood, other than that [there is] the odd tournament in Kitchener, which are one-day events. You have to go to Toronto, Ottawa or Hamilton – these are the only places that are running regular weekend tournaments,” he said.
While the game might struggle with popularity, kids are becoming better at a young age than when he was a child, Kuel said.
“Nowadays, you’ve got kids that are being tutored and are not just good but very good at the game. It’s so much younger in age, with the internet and being able to get a hold of tutors and stuff like that. I wasn’t capable of that when I was that age, because, of course, the internet didn’t exist,” he added.
In 2021, American Abhimanyu Mishra became the youngest ever grandmaster (the highest title for a chess player) at just 12 years, 4 months and 25 days old, beating the previous record set in 2002 by Sergey Karjakin, who was 12 years and 7 months old.
In his efforts to grow the game, Kuehl will be hosting his third Horse and Buggy Chess Open at the Woolwich Memorial Centre on August 12 and 13. Any player that defeats him during the May event will receive free entry into the summer tournament.