A Hungarian octogenarian woman named Brigitta Sinka has broken a world record by finally overtaking legendary Cuban grandmaster Jose Raul Capablanca.
Capablanca is considered one of the greatest players of all time and was renowned for his endgame skills and speed of play. He was extremely skilled in rapid chess, which started the concept of simultaneous exhibitions, and he made a USA-wide tour for the first time in 1909. A simultaneous exhibition is one in which one player, typically of high rank plays multiple chess matches at a time with a number of other players. Such an exhibition is often referred to simply as a “simul.”
Around a century ago, Capablanca played high-speed simultaneous exhibition chess for money but his games remained counted, but unfortunately undocumented. His number of games stands at 13,545, which was recently overtaken by Ms Sinka, who is affectionately called Auntie Bici.
Ms. Sinka has recorded every game she has played in various scrapbooks. The date, the time, the name of the opponent and the result – all details have been meticulously recorded and even signed by a witness. In 2010, with her score standing at around 9,000 games, a chess historian told her that he had spotted Capablanca’s total in a biography of the Cuban grandmaster. She then decided to try and eclipse that number, and it was on the 28th of June this year that she finally overtook him in a packed tent in a Budapest park, the venue where she played the record-breaking games. By the end of the weekend, she was already well over 13,600 games before bring the event to a close.
In 1957, she arrived late for an event in the Netherlands and had to miss it. But she was invited to play in a sideline chess event, where she played her first ever simultaneous event and has been unstoppable ever since. She has undergone three heart operations in recent years, but that has not deterred her from doing what she loves the most. Her doctors advised her to quit playing, but nobody could stop her as she even recorded 14 simultaneous games with her nurses!
Ms Sinka has amazed everybody with her passion and love for her game, as she wishes to carry on playing even after breaking Capablanca’s record. She hopes the Guinness Records adjudicators will consider her scrapbooks and acknowledge her feat as an official world record. It is heart-warming to see so much passion and dedication towards sport, especially at the age of 87! We hope Ms Sinka never loses her will and continues to play for years to come!