Our first club simul! In place of the normal chess club meetup, National Master Jon Crumiller is giving a simultaneous exhibition on Wednesday, March 1st beginning at 6:15pm sharp This is an exciting opportunity to participate in an event that many people have only seen on TV and in movies. For those of you who don’t know, a chess simul is a chess exhibition in which a single player, usually a chess master, plays multiple games simultaneously against a large number of opponents. While some of you have had the chance to meet and play against Jon at the club, few have heard his jaw-dropping chess stories or laid eyes on the incredible chess relics just a few miles outside of San Marcos. I had the privilege of spending a few hours with Jon in Canyon Lake and I am excited to share details about that visit with everyone, but first I want to provide a brief overview of how our simultaneous exhibition will work.
Chess simuls have been around for over a century. They allow players to test their skills against a strong opponent while also promoting the game of chess. Simuls are also a lot of fun, even for spectators; there is nothing quite like watching a master perform at an elite level in twenty games at once. Because chess simuls can feature a variety of rules, let me outline the guidelines for our upcoming simul event:
- The simul will take place on March 1st and start at 6:15pm SHARP. If you are late, your spot will be given to someone else.
- You MUST be registered to play in the simul.
- There will be a maximum number of 20 players (so register ASAP).
- Jon will have the white pieces on every board.
- Jon will make his way around the room, making his move at each board. When he returns to your board, you must make your move. However, each player is allowed two “passes” during the game.
- The games are not touch-move for the participants or Jon; moves are not final if either player simply touches a piece, but once the piece is released, the move is final.
- If you are lucky enough to make it among the final few, the event will likely last around 2 hours.
- REGISTRATION LINK
A Bit About Jon Crumiller
Jon graciously invited me to his home in Canyon Lake to see part of his antique collection and it did not disappoint. We spent at least an hour looking at the sets as Jon told me all about their rich historical and cultural significance. It was like taking a chess journey through time with chess as the focal point. I was amazed by Jon’s depth of knowledge and honored by his willingness to share it with me. I was in chess nerd heaven. In that one hour I tried my best to absorb the incredible breadth of information about chess piece styles, materials, artisans, and more. In the interest of not butchering everything that Jon told me, I will refrain from going into detail, but I will say that it was something that I won’t soon forget. I could have stayed looking at the exhibit for 5 hours without complaint. In addition to collecting sets, Jon has clearly studied the history of chess in depth, from its origins in ancient India to its spread across the world and its development over the centuries. Jon’s collection has been featured in several magazines and articles, and he has given numerous talks and exhibitions on his collection. He has also been interviewed many times regarding the collection by various chess commentators such as GM Maurice Ashley.
After the tour, Jon and I sat and talked chess over coffee. I was curious about how Jon discovered chess and ventured into antique collecting. I suspected there were some interesting stories. I told Jon that I can’t get enough of chess stories, and I would love to hear anything and everything related to his chess life that he was willing to share. As it turns out, “interesting stories” is a radical understatement and what followed left me floored.
Like many kids, Jon learned the game from his dad at a young age (around 8). By age 12, he was competing in scholastic events and showing a way with the game. In 1976, Jon became the Delaware State Champion. He took a break from competitive chess while he and his wife Jenny raised their kids, but eventually achieved the USCF title of National Master in 2001 at the National Open in Las Vegas.
While impressive for us “class level” chess players, the story so far is not entirely dissimilar to the stories of other masters I have spoken with. However, over the next hour, Jon took me on a journey that often required me to physically pick my jaw up off the floor. The twists and turns of his storied chess life included a 2 on 2 game featuring Garry Kasparov (yes, that Kasparov) as Jon’s partner against Nigel Short and London master Rajko Vujatovic, Jon publishing a book with GM Lev Alburt, a dinner and cab ride with Anatoly Karpov, a blitz session with Vladimir Kramnik, a draw with MAGNUS CARLSEN in a simul, and so much more. Jon has also written numerous articles for Chess Life magazine, including a cover article with Lev Alburt about adjournments in modern chess. If stories involving Nigel Short, Lev Alburt and FOUR world chess champions are not enough, there were also anecdotes about Andrew Soltis, Artur Yusupov, Susan Polgar, Ray Keene, Yuri Averbakh and so many more. Am I leaving anything out? Yes ! I don’t have a choice – at some point this article must end. To be honest, I’m not sure if there is anyone in the chess world Jon hasn’t met. He described himself as the “Forrest Gump of the chess world, obliviously walking through historical chess moments .” We sat and talked about Jon’s chess life for over an hour and a half, and it felt like 10 minutes. Once again, it could have been 5 hours and I would not have complained.
Jon is a strong player, true chess aficionado, and an impressive chess historian. The SMTX Chess Club is lucky to have him; not because he can give any one of us an incredibly fierce game of chess (he can), not because of his mind-blowing antique chess collection, and not because of his incredible stories that would make any chess fan’s mouth water (I’m still giddy thinking about them), but because he seems to be a genuine, kind person who cares deeply about sharing his love of chess with others. His motivation for collecting and his willingness to share his incredible chess stories with people quite obviously comes from a passion for chess and a desire to preserve our history for the community. His zeal for the game, combined with his love for its history and artistry, has made him an extremely respected and knowledgeable member of the chess community. Through his collection, research, and outreach efforts, he has helped to preserve the history of chess and promote its cultural significance for future generations. In my opinion, and the opinion of many others, Jon Crumiller is the definition of a true chess ambassador.