As you can see from this photo, chess isn’t always just about brains. International Masters Sam Shankland (left) and Dean Ippolito were paired to play in round four of the 2008 Frank K. Berry U.S. Chess Championship. Both had arrived in the playing room before the round was to begin to socialize with other participants. I was taking some pre-game photos, when the socializing turned into good-natured pre-game “trash talk.” Shankland was an easy target. He was still in high school and was rising in his chess career. Next to Ippolito, a more seasoned player, who is also a body builder, Shankland didn’t seem to stand a chance.

The trash talking between the two lead to most of us in the room joining in and having a laugh. Eventually the tension was too much and Shankland and Ippolito wanted to start the game early to get the show on the road, but chief Arbiter Berry wouldn’t allow that to happen, as it wasn’t appropriate. A speed game of chess was contemplated, as well, but soon they arrived at a consensus on the perfect solution: arm wrestling.

And so it was. Shankland and Ippolito decided to muscle it out beside the board instead of over it. It didn’t seem like a fair fight and it wasn’t. Ippolito didn’t break a sweat, as Shankland put every ounce of himself into the wrestle, turning beet red before Ippolito took him down.

Ippolito was victorious in the arm wrestling match but not in the chess game. Perhaps the pre-game loss Shankland suffered only inspired him to win when it really counted.

Side note: The Shankland/Ippolito arm wrestling duel created such a buzz that it lead to a group arm wrestling match in the hotel lobby after the closing ceremonies were over. The primary participants in this impromptu smackdown were the women who had played in the 2008 U.S. Women’s Championship held simultaneously with the 2008 U.S. Championship.

If you ever wanted to be part of breaking a Guiness World Record now is your chance. Dean Ippolito will be going after the record for most games played in a simultaneous exhibition.

The World Record Attempt Will Take Place on November 27, 2010 at the HealthQuest Sports Dome in Flemington, NJ.
Sign up at www.chessworldrecord.com