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Blindfold Chess

Blindfold Chess

Sep 26, 2009, 11:45 AM 2

Blindfold Chess


The title says most of it, but could you really do it?  How much would it improve your chess?  In my mind, a bunch.  The idea is simple.  The two players play blindfolded or one player does.  If both do, then a 3rd person is needed to either move the pieces or record the moves.


You play a normal game of Chess.  But with a blindfold on, you cannot see the pieces.  Commands to move the pieces are done verbally, e.g. Knight to e3.  Now what happens is that you have to remember where your pieces are and your opponent’s.


Chess.com Diamond membership (no I do not work for Chess.com) is a bargain with the videos and other things you can do online.  It will help you improve your chess playing abilities.  I would love to do a study, but my gut tells me it does.


In today’s world we are visual learners.  This is a result of movies, TV, and internet.  My goodness, I am 50+ and even back in my days in High School,  we watched movies on the old reel to reel projectors.  If you are my age or close to it, you probably can remember history movies, health movies, etc.  Teachers loved it.  Start the film and sit back.


With a Diamond Membership, you get access to tons of videos and Chess Mentor.  Both are great tools.  Some love the Chess Mentor, but I do not fall into that category.  There can be two answers sometimes, from my point of view, both just as good - but only one is right.  That frustrates me.  The videos are great. Masters from IM, FM and GMs make the lessons.


Back to blindfold chess.  Could you play a game blindfolded?  Could you “see” all the lines in you mind’s “eye?”  My guess is that most master level players would have no problem.  They remember games (every move) they played with certain players.  If they can remember every move, my guess is blindfolded would not be a big handicap to a highly rated player.


Now that is NOT me.  I have collected about 15 chess books.  Of course if they made a new chess diagram in these books for every move they are talking about, some of the books would come in 10 volume sets.   So of course, they have a few diagrams, but most of the dialogue is in Algebraic notation.  You must be able to do some visualization to even read the books.


But blindfold chess.  If you can visualize a game, well, I think there is very little doubt you would see moves and lines you missed before.  If you saw the movie “Searching for Bobby Fischer” (by the way, some people think the late great Bobby Fischer is still alive.  He is not.  He died at age 64 a few years ago in Iceland) the young Josh Waitzkin was playing a “game” on a blank board using a score pad,   Again, you would have to visualize where the pieces are.   That might be a place to start.


Interesting Soviet Study: 

In the former Soviet Union, simultaneous blindfold chess with more than one opponent was banned as it was considered bad for one's health. Medical evidence proves this hypothesis to be true not only for the game of chess but for any activity pursued without any other diversion.


It is essential to develop diversified interests to relax the mind from all monotonous routines for healthy living. Blindfold chess players should understand this and cultivate other interests and hobbies. Apart from mental relaxation, blindfold chess players should also concentrate on physical health by regular exercise.


So if you play Chess at Chess.com, all day, it is probably not good for your health.  Get out, exercise, play with kids, read book.  Something.  As this old Soviet study showed, and what we probably would deduce from common sense is that a balanced life is a better life (another argument against the Glicko system, but read that blog).


History of Blindfold Chess

There is a great article on Chess.com written by Aris Zacharis of Greece.  He talks about how in 1934 Alekhine set the new world record by playing 32 blindfold games at once.  It was refereed by none other than the great Emanuel Lasker!  Read the article, it  is worth your time


Another Great Article
Bill Wall of Florida wrote a piece on Chess.com about Harry Nelson Pillsbury (1872-1906) who was one of the strongest chess players in the world and known for his blindfold chess play and mental feats of memorization.  Again, well worth your time.

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