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from The History of Chess by Duncan Forbes (1860):
The Arabs were the first we read of among the people of the East who excelled in playing without seeing the board. We have good authority for saying that they practised this art as early as the middle of our seventh century, from the following passage in the description of Dr. Lee's Arabic MS., No. 77, as drawn up by Mr. N. Bland.—(Vide Appendix C.) "The Introduction (to Dr. Lee's MS.) relates examples of the early Muhammadan doctors, and even of companions and followers of the Prophet, who either themselves played Chess, or were spectators of the game. Some of these are said also to have played behind their back, i.e., without looking at the board." The Museum MS., No. 16,856, as I have already mentioned, is a translation of an old Arabian work on Chess,  the twelfth and last chapter of which is devoted to this subject. The author, after a few preliminary remarks, supposed to be addressing himself to the player of the White men, thus proceeds:—
In the first place you are to bear in mind that the board is divided into equal portions by a horizontal line drawn from left to right. The half next to you is White's ground, and the other half is Black's.  Again, imagine the board to be bisected perpendicularly by a line from top to bottom, thus forming four equal portions of sixteen squares each. The right-hand quarter is your King's ; and the quarter on your left, your Queen's. In like manner, the quarter opposite your King's, belongs to the adversary's King, and that opposite to your Queen's belongs to the adverse Queen.
The various squares are reckoned from either extremity, and are named after the King or Queen in whose quarter they are. Thus, the square before your King's is called W. K.'s second square; next to that W. K.'s third square; then W. K.'s fourth square. Proceeding beyond the middle line, the next square is Black King's fourth square, next to that his third square, &c.; and a similar rule holds with regard to all the other squares. With regard to the Pieces and Pawns, those originally standing in your King's quarter are styled King's Pieces and Pawns, and the others Queen's. Thus, the Knight on your right hand is White King's Knight; the square in front of him is White King's Knight's second square, and so on of all the rest. All these things you must thoroughly master, and bear in mind, so that you may readily know the precise locality,  as well as the name and designation of every square on the board. It is needless to add that your adversary reckons all the Pieces and Pawns, relatively, in a similar manner, from his own side of the board.
PRECEPTS AND MAXIMS.
1. Before you begin the game, fix firmly in your memory the exact state of your battle array, as well as that of your adversary. Bear in mind what pieces of your own occupy each of your quarters, and also how your adversary's pieces are stationed in his quarters. Never lose sight of the relative changes and modifications which are being constantly effected by each successive move that is made. Never allow your attention to be withdrawn from the board and pieces which you are contemplating in your mind.
2. The pieces that require the most watching are the Knights, owing to the obliquity of their moves. The Rooks, though the more powerful pieces, are much more easily followed in their movements. The Queen and Bishops can attack only a certain number of well-known squares, and it is good play, when possible, to keep your King out of their reach.
3. Do not at first attempt Blindfold Play except with inferior players; nor would I advise you to attempt it at all, unless you possess strong powers of local memory and mental abstraction; nor would it be judicious to try it unless you can play well with your eyes open, over the board.
The author concludes by stating, "that some men, from long practice, have arrived at such a degree of perfection in this art, as to have played blindfold at four or five boards at one and the same time, and never to have committed a mistake in any of the games." He further tells us that, —"some have been known to have recited poetry, or told amusing stories, or conversed with the company present during the progress of the contest." In another sentence he says, "I have seen it written in a book, that one man played blindfold at ten boards simultaneously  and gained all the games; he even corrected many errors committed by his opponents and friends in describing the moves."
Such are the instructions of Abu Muhammad to those who are ambitious to excel in Blindfold Play; and if slightly modified, so as to suit our modern game, it will be found that they are precisely those given by Damiano, 350 years ago. Now, the Arabian author could not have borrowed his from Damiano, as he lived several centuries before the latter; then arises a query—are Damiano's instructions original? If we suppose that the two authors have, independent of each other, hit upon precisely the same precepts, it amounts to a tolerable proof that the principles of the art are founded on a sound basis. I am inclined to think, however, that Damiano's notions on this subject reached him either directly or indirectly from the Arabs, who had ruled in Spain during several centuries before that in which he was born.
 1 The name of the author of the original Arabic work was " Abu Muhammad Bin 'Umar Kajma," of whom I never heard except here. It is highly probable that his lucubrations have long been lost, like many others, in countries where the art of printing is still in its infancy.
 This is precisely the mode of describing the moves, &c., used by the early Italian masters, and by all our own writers on the subject till some twenty-five to thirty years ago, when our present method was introduced, I believe, by Mr. Lewis, in his valuable series of " Lessons on Chess." I confess I am myself partial to the old or Arabian system, being that which was in vogue when I began to read books on Chess
 I consider this same locality as a great help to the memory; and I cannot help thinking that the Oriental player would have much profited by having the board colored black and white as with us. He could thus more easily follow the movements of the Queens and Bishops, all of which kept to their original colors. The Knight's moves also could be more easily recollected, as the Knight changed his colour at each move. When he stood on a white square, he commanded, from a central position, eight black squares, and vice verta, when he stood on a black square.
 Our transatlantic cousins have been " going a-head" in this department within the last year or two. Mr. Louis Paulsen, of Iowa, United States, in 1858, played twelve games at the same time without seeing the board, and won them all. This surpasses the Oriental player, barring the "poetry," and the "droll stories," of which, in the case of the American, we have received no account. M. Paulsen is allowed to be the second player in America; but in this extraordinary feat of his we have not been able to ascertain the strength of his opponents, for much depends upon that. Of his young countryman, however, Mr. Paul Morphy, we are enabled to speak with more certainty. This gentleman, the " facile Princeps" of Chess, within the last two years played two distinct matches, one at Birmingham, and one at Paris ; each of the matches consisting of eight games played simultaneously without seeing the board. ,A.t Birmingham Mr. Morphy won six games out of the eight, drew one, and lost one. At Paris he won six and drew the remaining two. These sixteen games then, out of which Mr. Morphy lost only one, were played against really strong players. They have been all carefully recorded, and recently published;—a lasting memorial of the young American's skill in Blindfold Play.
I have tried it, after 20-25 moves I fall apart.
I have never tried...
I think i can´t do it
I've tried it once, and actually won, playing against two people (in one game). It's pretty hard work, and I think if they were good players it would have been a lot harder.
They were pretty much beginners, so it was all quite straightforward. The part in the article above about "fixing the position in your mind" is absolutely key; I tried to keep the position as an image at all times, and also just to remember each move (e.g. c3, Bf4), so I could check that the image is accurate.
I have no idea whatsoever how these GMs can play 20 simultaneous games blindfold. That is just absurd.
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