Mikhail Tal's blindfold simul for documentary

Jan 19, 2013, 1:40 PM |

Footage from the Seven Steps Beyond Horizon documentary


Subtitles: Grandmaster M. Tal, blindfold simultaneous display

Announcer: Board six, Nb8 to c6.

M. Tal: c3 takes d4.

Announcer: Board eight, d6 takes e5.

M. Tal: e4 to e5 (? Both Tal's responses are obviously editing errors, as we'll see later)

Announcer: Board one, Bf8 to e7.

M. Tal: One second.

Interviewer (voiceover): Have you been giving blindfold simultaneous displays for a long time?

M. Tal (voiceover): Here, in Kiev, is my first such performance. Or... perhaps not the very first one. I was once in a hospital after some surgery, and several chess enthusiasts gathered in my room. I couldn't stand up. They brought 4 chess sets, and my first ever blindfold simul began. It was very intense; I managed to win three games, but my position in the 4th game was very bad. Though my partner was soon taken away for his surgery, so he had to forfeit the game.

Speaking seriously, blindfold simultaneous displays aren't particularly popular in our country. No matter how good someone can play without looking at the board, they'll invariably play even better if they do look at the board.

M. Tal: c2 to c4.

M. Tal (voiceover): The Russian chess genius Alekhine, in his time, gave a 30-board blindfold simultaneous display. And in Hungary, there's a young master Janos Flesch. I think he's giving fantastic simultaneous displays - 54 games blindfolded! I just can't imagine that.

Announcer: Board one, Bc5 to e7.

M. Tal: Bc5 to e7...

Interviewer (voiceover): Misha, how do you play? Do you see all the positions of all the 10 games?

M. Tal (voiceover): No. I think it's probably very difficult or even impossible. Even when you play over the board, you don't see all 64 squares and all 32 pieces simultaneously. It's a huge strain for the brain. But a chess player with some experience, practice, class works selectively, or rather his brain works selectively, paying more notice to the main areas of the action, to the area of the board where main events happen, and the fate of the game is decided.

M. Tal: Nc3 to e4.

M. Tal (voiceover): And remembering the positions of all games is a check of sorts. If the position is unclear to me, I remember the game, remember the move (Announcer in the background: Board two, Qg4 takes d1.) and gradually recall the positions of the pieces. It's just auxiliary work of sorts. You know, the chess player doesn't calculate all the variants. It's the way of a cybernetic machine: automatic search of all possible continuation. (Announcer in the background: Board three, d5 to d4.) And the cyberneticists are yet to triumph over the strong chess players.

Interviewer (voiceover): But in the future, they say, machines will play good.

M. Tal (voiceover): I think that in our lifetime, grandmasters will be able to hold their own.

Subtitles: Day 2.

M. Tal: My friends, our break was a bit long, and I'm unexperienced in all that, it's my first simultaneous display of such nature, so I'm afraid to mess something up. So, I'd like to check some games, if you allow. At the board six, where my position isn't too great, the game went this way (dictates, without move numbers obviously): 1. d4 d5 2. c4 Nf6 3. cxd5 Nxd5 4. Nf3 Bg4 5. Qb3 Nb6 6. Nbd2 e6 (I think) 7. g3 Nc6 8. Bg2 Be7 9. O-O O-O 10. Rd1 Nxd4, a completely correct decision... 11. Nxd4 Qxd4 12. Bxb7 Bxe2 13. Re1 Rab8, I missed this move in my calculations. 14. Bg2 Ba6, here I thought that even more dangerous was 14... Nd5 or 14... Nc4. After 14... Ba6 I managed to "unwind" my pieces. 15. Nf3 Qb4 16. Bf4 Nd5 17. Bd2 Qb6 18. Qxb6, Black recaptured with a pawn, 18... cxb6, and my last move was 19. Nf3-e5.

M. Tal: Board seven, another funny game (dictates): 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d4 exd4 6. cxd4 Bb4+ 7. Bd2 Bxd2+ 8. Nbxd2 d5 9. exd5 Nxd5 10. Qb3 Be6, I've never seen that move before, but it seems very interesting. 11. Qxb7 Na5 12. Bb5+ Kf8 13. Qa6 c6 14. Ba4 Nf4, another interesting move. 15. O-O-O, sadly, I couldn't play 15. O-O due to 15... Bc8. Black is now to move.

M. Tal: Board eight, there's King's Indian Defence (dictates): 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. Be2 Nbd7. White sacrificed a pawn, 7. e5 dxe5 8. dxe5 Ng4 9. e6 fxe6 10. O-O Nde5 11. Qc2 Nxf3+ 12. Bxf3 Ne5 13. Be2 Qe8 14. Be3 Nc6 15. Rad1. Black to move.

M. Tal: Board nine, the game went like that (dictates): 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O b5 6. Bb3 Be7... forgive me for this small delay, comrades... 7. d4 d6 8. c3 O-O 9. h3 h6 10. Nbd... sorry, 10. Re1 Re8 11. Nbd2 Bf8 12. Nf1 Bd7 13. Ng3 Na5 14. Bc2 g6 15. b3 c5 16. d5 Nb7 17. Be3 Bg7 18. Qd2, I attacked a pawn. Black have to protect it now.

Board 8 player: Grandmaster, I offer draw.

Announcer: Board eight offers draw.

M. Tal: I'll think about it. (Pauses) I'd like to play some more. Rh7 to f7.

Announcer: Tal declined the draw. (Makes a move, obviously not Rf7. Seems like an editing error.)

Announcer: Board three, Ke8 to f8.

M. Tal: It seems that Black made a mistake. I can play d4xc5. Perhaps Black would choose another move?

Announcer: Board three, e7 to e6.

M. Tal: Good.

Announcer: Board ten, Ke7 takes d6.

M. Tal: Trying to play funny, f2 to f4.

Announcer: Board seven, Bc5 to b4.

M. Tal: Re1 takes e5, check.

Interviewer (voiceover): Why do you like chess?

M. Tal (voiceover): It's hard to answer this question in a couple of words. Chess are very popular. There are people of all ages and walks of life among chess enthusiasts. Someone with a scientific mind, for instance, is drawn to the logic and clarity of chess. Someone other likes the competitive element, the struggle of minds, the clash of personalities. I also started to play chess as a pure sportsman, there were boyish ambitions involved - I wanted to defeat my "offender". And then I discovered that chess are so creatively rich, there are so many ideas and possibilities, that I became completely immersed, and now I can't imagine my life without chess.

Board 10 player: I offer draw.

Announcer: Do you agree, Grandmaster?

M. Tal: Thank you, of course I agree. I must thank my partner for his courtesy, he helped me escape.

Board 7 player: I offer draw.

Announcer: Board seven offers draw.

M. Tal: I have nothing against it.

Announcer: Grandmaster agrees.

Board 7 player: Many thanks for the game.

M. Tal: Thank you.

Board 3 player: I resign. Thank you very much.

Announcer: Board three resigns.

M. Tal: I play Kg1 to f2 at board six and offer draw.

Announcer: Grandmaster offers draw to you.

Board 6 player: I agree, thanks for the game. (Repeats) I agree, thanks for the game.

Announcer: The partner agrees and thanks you.

M. Tal: Thank you very much.

Announcer: The simultaneous display finished, the Grandmaster won 7-3. He won 4 games and drew 6.

Interviewer (voiceover): Anton Vladimirovich, we have seen everything we managed to film. We have carried out your plans.