10/20/17 - Benefits of Blindfold
Unfortunately, I had not gotten a chance to really keep up with practicing playing blindfolded after my first successes. Fortunately, it was because of the birth of my daughter. Lately, I've gotten the chance to get back to it, and I'm thankful to say that it's been relatively easy to pick up where I had started. I had to practice for a couple of days, but was able to play (and now recreate here) this recent game with my wife:
The game was resigned due to my baby waking from her nap. Granted, my wife is a beginner, but I'm still pleased that I have been able to track accurately and even see tactics. It's become a matter of slowly getting faster (my latest, favorite oxymoron).
In my tips blog, I noted how my chess vision had improved, and was unable to describe my improvement to calculation beyond feeling "cleaner." I've had a bit of time to think about this, and came up with some quick specifics.
Memorizing a position forces me to adopt good observational habits, and makes the basic nature of the board totally concrete. Total material is drilled in from the start of my analysis. Positional keystones like open files, castled positions, pawn chains, weaknesses, and battles for specific squares are major factors when chunking data for easier memorization and analysis. It also forces me to account for all pieces, and the interplay between all; many times, I anchor pieces relative to the pawn chain, which matters more than I had initially realized.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, I've found that my overall calculation is slower when playing blind, as I need to visualize and analyze the board first, but when playing over-the-board I have jumped straight into those same observational habits, and they reappear during my calculation.
Again, if you have ever thought about trying blindfold, I cannot cannot cannot recommend it highly enough!