When asked, "Which openings do you play?" by a curious student. Fred replied, "I just play what looks natural." Fred was true to his nature on Tuesday, January 14 at the Magic Valley Chess Club meeting at Barnes & Noble in Twin Falls. Mr. Bartell played seven students ranging in abilities from the Blaine County School District Chess Rage Club simultaneously and played a different opening against each student challenging him. One student was from the Twin Falls area for a total of eight players. This type of tournament is commonly referred to as a Simul.
Playing a different opening against each challenger is a great strategy for a simultaneous exhibition where a chess guru plays multiple players at the same time to display his chess dominance and prowess. The challenging players can't look at the adjacent boards to see how other challengers are coping with an opening when the simul-giver does changes his opening. During the tournament, the exhibitor moves from board to board, making one move at a time down a line of challengers. The challengers must refrain from moving until the simul-giver returns to their board - the challenger moves and simul-giver immediately replies.
Fred Bartell is known locally as a brilliant rapid chess player and a fierce competitor in long games and is quite entertaining to his opponents. Fred grimaces, smiles, chuckles and even talks some great smack when he becomes comfortable. Fred attacks immediately and has enjoyed a long history of playing in California and in Idaho to perfect his flexible style. Fred began tournament play in Idaho in 2006 and was a near expert from the get-go.
Usually a simul takes time and the giver continues to stand over his opponents as they move from board to board. After fifteen minutes, the first player succumbed to a queen and a bishop working diligently for checkmate. It only took another hour and a half before Fred finished the final competitor. He won all the games. Afterwards, Fred obtained a quick drink and then sat down with students to continue teaching them through rapid games.
Fred is critical member of the Magic Valley Chess Club which meets at Barnes & Noble in Twin Falls every second and fourth Tuesday of the month and is open for casual play to players of all abilities.