How to play blindfold chess?
I have written some articles about my blindfold games. A couple of my friends asked me how did I learned it and I casually answer that I am just being stubborn at trying to play blindfold chess until I learned it. Is there are benefit for chess? Definitely!
Honestly, I did not know that I can play blindfold until one time that I made a joke against our company driver that I will play him chess without looking at the board. Here's that first game with annotation of my move per move experience.
The full article can be seen here.
Before the above game I tried for dozens of games and failed. So how did I learned blindfold? It started for my quest to improve at chess. I'm stuck between 1500 to 1600 in online rating. And my search for ways to improve led me to blindfold chess. I read an article that says blindfold chess helps improve chess. Take another read though, it says "helps improve chess". Being able to play blindfold does not equate to improvement.
The articles I searched online says that memorizing the board is key to blindfold chess. And when I started training I cannot even picture out a 64 checkered board in my mind, let alone identify where a square is. Its really hard even with the help of a mobile app. Luckily, Chess.com has the Vision trainer under the Learn menu. I did not used it during my blindfold training because its a new feature in version 3. I tried this feature and its really good.
Memorizing the board is just the first step. And even if I have good results with the mobile app I still cannot play blindfold chess for a long time. Some thing is still needed. And its during this time that I came across this video of GM Susan Polgar.
The realization that remembering chess position is the same as remembering a person's face is a breakthrough for me. I told myself, maybe I can use it to play blindfold chess. And that is what fueled my renewed quest to gain this skill.
Playing chess without a chess board is really hard. So during my blindfold games I visualize the old chess board that my father gave me when I was 6 years old. I have used that board for two decades. And even if its been more than a decade since it parted with me I can still remember the cracks and scratch of the board.
I'm a lazy chess player. Until now, even if I can play blindfold, I have not mastered the colors of the squares. Which diagonal does a certain square belongs. And so I cheat. I visualize a wooden chess board. Its still an uneasy task but I play a couple of games using this technique.
In my recent article, I did not used the old wooden board technique. Instead, I use an uncolored grid line board. It does not matter to me what color a square is. I just recite the squares where a certain piece can go and analyze from there the threats of the position. And it becomes easier when I kept the pawn structure in check for most of the game.
Oh yeah, that's cheating. But what can I do? I am lazy at studying chess.
The video of IM Danny Rensch talks about the first steps in obtaining blindfold skills. Its the exercises that I will go through in the next months to achieve better blindfold chess. I still fail to finish some games using the mediocre techniques I have been using. Although I can play more often than I used to be. And the physical strain is not so much compared before. I am also able to use it in actual games which more often gives me the advantage.
Blindfold chess is more than a show off. Its a skill needed to make calculation easier and more accurate.