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50 Young Chess Players Will Face a National Champion at GenCon

50 pre-teen chess players to the GenCon gaming convention in Indy will get the chance to go head-to-head Sunday with a national champion -- at the same time.

Grandmaster and two-time women's champion Jennifer Shahade will play 50 simultaneous games as part of a promotion for Yamie Chess, a book she helped develop which seeks to draw kids into chess by making the pieces characters in a cartoon backstory. The accompanying book uses chess and mathematical puzzles to build kids' thinking skills.

Shahade says a simultaneous exhibition alters strategy. While she may think about a closely contested game while making the rounds of other boards, she says the format forces you to let intuition and experience substitute for in-depth analysis. Shahade's also a professional poker player and spokeswoman for PokerStars -- she says there are similarities with online poker, where you'll often be playing multiple games at the same time.

And Shahade says the exhibitions are tiring. She'll be on her feet for three hours or more, making the circuit of the 50 boards.

Shahade says chess is enjoying renewed popularity among young people, as more cities try to emulate the best-run local tournaments. She says the game is also benefiting from the charisma of Magnus Carlsen, who won the world championship earlier this year.

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