x
Chess - Play & Learn

Chess.com

FREE - In Google Play

FREE - in Win Phone Store

VIEW

BLINDFOLD CHESS PLAY. . . . (memoir)

  • #1

    MEMOIR

    Blindfold Chess

    I have seen Geo Koltanowski play 30 games of blindfold chess without a problem. What an impression that did to me. In his book “Travels of a Chess Master” he explained the process he took to learn to play without pieces.

    Geo said to both his parents, “Mom, dad, may I place a chess board on the ceiling above my bed?”

    “What? Are you going to nail it up?”

    “No, I will make a paper one, black and white. I will put it up with tacks. When I take it down there will be no damage.”

    He never got permission to put it up. The way he remembered  the moves was, every time he made one move, he would repeat all the previous moves. That made it easy to remember them.

    I know most of you have a chess hero that you admire and George Koltanowski was mine.

     

      =================

    When I was 23 I was able to play a full game without the board or pieces against my co-worker Tim. We had to play like that so we wouldn’t get fired for playing chess while we were working.

    We were caught playing with a regular set and warned once before.

    We always had a chess board without any pieces on the workbench. Many times we were playing a game but nobody knew it. When one of us made a mistake we would have a discussion as to where the pieces were and we would keep the game going.

    I believed that most every one can play a full game when they reach a "B" level. Tim and I learned out of necessity.

    ==================

    Several years ago I taught and school chess at a elementary school. There were more students than I had chessboards. Of course, I improvised and doubled some of them up.

    Two of the students had already played in my tournaments and they were eager just to play. I utilized the knowledgeable ones as tutors and they enjoyed that.

    Most of the others were willing to learn since they were truly beginners. The class time passed quickly but I kept them trying new things that they never thought about in chess.

    “Before you go home today I'll give you some homework to do.”

    “Oh. No.” “Homework?” Were some of the comments I heard.

    “It is going to be some fun stuff to do. It isn’t like math!.”

    I gave them the homework to do. I showed them how to recognize the location that each piece is on.

    I showed them the fool’s mate. I showed them how to avoid getting mated that way.

    “Last thing I want to show you is how you can play chess blindfolded.”

    “I can’t do that. I got to see this,” said one boy.

    “Let me show you using this board. Look I move the white pawn to 1. e4 and the black pawn to 1. ...  e5. Now I move the bishop to 2. Bc4 and then black to 2. ... Bc5. I move the knight 3. Nf3 and the black knight 3. ... Nc6. I castle 4. O - O  and the black knight 4. Nf6. Thats all that are moved."


     

    I pointed to each piece I had moved on my DEMO board and I had the kids name the piece and the square they were on.

    "Now I am going to cover the demo board. Ian come here and play black against me, making the same opening moves."

    “Ok. But you might have to remind me what the move is.”

    Now with just a empty boards between us and all the kids watching I said,

    “I’m moving my pawn to e4. Ian can you picture that on the empty board.”

     

     

    “I see it,” he said with a smile on his face.”

    “Ok. It’s your move. Make it.”

    Ian said, “Pawn to e5.”

    “Ian, can you see both pawns? Where are the pawns?”

    “Yours is on e4 and mine is on e5,” He said.

    “All you guys can you see the pawns also?”

    “Yes, Yeah, sure.” Were the responses.

    “I know that you can't see them, but you know they are there. Ok my move. Bishop to c4. Your move Ian.”

    “HUH . . . bishop to . . . c5 I think.”

    “Perfect now my Knight to f3. Your move Ean, Look at the board.”

    “Knight to hus . .  c6.”

    “Mine: bishop take pawn on f7 check. Your move.”

    “hu . . .  huh . . Hey You didn't show us that.“

    "But can you see it Ean?"

    "Yes I can. It was supposed to be the castle move."

    "Ok that is enough for now. Ian I want you to tell me where are all the pieces that you and I moved. Where are they right now?”

    Ian said, “Yours are, pawn on e4, Knight of f3, . . . bishop on f7 checking me. Those are all yours. Oh. . . Mine are, pawn on . . . e5, Bishop is on . . . c5, and the knight of c6 . . . Wait . . . I can see I am going to take your bishop with my king on my next move . . . ”

    “Excellent, great job Ian. See? It can be done with some work. How about all you guys can you see them on the empty board? I know that it will take some practice to do that but you will be able to do some of it soon.”

    I told them that by the end of the training in six weeks they would be able to do that also. You should have seen their eyes light up. Most of these were third graders. Ian was in the fifth grade.

    I couldn't wait for the next lesson and see if their homework was done.

    = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

    Playing blindfold one chess game used to be considered akin witchcraft before the 19th century. Paulsen, Morphy and Blackburne did it regularly during the 19th century.

     In the 20th century George Koltonowski and Najdorf played 30 and 40 games at a time and Fine played ten second moves, four blindfold games simultaneously.

    Once the immortal British player Joseph Blackburn was playing a blindfold game and he announced, “I see a mate in 16.”

    That astonished every one including the opponent. Of course it would be sooner if his opponent didn't make the best moves.

    Blackburnew rattled off the moves. Here is the pgn diagram:

     

     

    If you copy this and memorize the start position you can do it also.

    I know you do it. Actually you do it all the time when you make moves in your mind before making the actual move on the board.

    Give it a shot see how far you can go.

    Hope you enjoyed this as much as I did.

                       Bye for now

                          Denver 

     

    Thanks for reading and your comments!
    Another reading you might like is:
    "My time at San Quentin Prison"
    Click on

    http://www.chess.com/forum/view/general/my-time-at-san-quentin-prison

  • #2

    Interesting idea. Very interesting. I think everybody "thinks before they move" already, but to put it in story form makes this much more interesting. Thank you so much for the story! Your not only a great storyteller, but a teacher too!

  • #3

                          Hi  bellchessteam19  again!

    Thanks so much for the read & comment.
    Bye for now.
  • #4

    You are the best story-teller on chess.com, and I liked the Blackburnew game.

  • #5
    DENVERHIGH wrote:

     

    Thanks so much for the read & comment.
    Bye for now.

    Hey, just because I don't comment doesn't mean I don't read and enjoy, ok? :)

  • #6
    franknstein wrote:

    You are the best story-teller on chess.com, and I liked the Blackburnew game.


    Hi Frankstein!

    Thanks for the compliment.

    I love that Backburnew game. I have been carrying that in my case for 15 years. I can't believe that a blindfold player can see that far in advance.

    George Koltawnowski use to tell me that it felt like he could see better blindfolded.

    It was probably so since he had to look at all the pieces after each move.

    That is why I lost my queen to a knight fork yesterday. I failed to look at the whole board. I almost saved the game, but I made a second blunder and I lost a bishop.

    Oh well.

    Bye for now.

     

     


    Hello rooperi

    from Pretoria South Africa

    There are many that read and don't comment. It is nice when someone leaves a comment and it means even more when they send a message.

    In every post I read I always try to leave something so they know I am reading and liked it. Sometimes it is just a cartoon or a smiley face.

    Bye for now

    Denver

     
  • #7

    "I have seen Geo Koltanowski play 30 games of blindfold chess without a problem. What an impression that did to me. In his book “Travels of a Chess Master” he explained the process he took to learn to play without pieces."

    It was this book and Koltythat introduced me to blindfold play. I still think it is a fascinating and neat trick. 

    I had an idea years ago that a great publicity stunt for a chess club would be to arrange for a few of the more capable players to sit in a public square and have them take on all comers blindfold, with a referee (or two) of course to keep the players legal and honest for the hopefully fairly quick games.

    Any player could do this for a few hours.

    Most local TV stations would be glad to have a minute or two of such a spectacle of local interest.

    It would probably be as good as anything else you'd see for chess on local TV.

    It'd be good for chess in general.


  • #8
    paul211 wrote:

    Any player that studied from a book and looked at several variations on a given move without moving any pieces is well prepared for a blindfold game.

    However over 20 moves or so I seem to loose the thread if I am not familiar with the continuation line and the board disappears. 

    Any suggestion as how to visualize the board with any position?

    Would appreciate any comment.


    That particular player playing or moving the pieces in his head is actually playing blindfold.

    But if you are depending to continue a game because you have memorized a variation of a open

    ing it will not work. Since your opponent probably will start to deviate from a familiar line that you know.

    Koltanowski repeated all the moves made every time a new move was added so he would not forget, where they were at any given time.

    Funny you asked for a suggestion on how to visualize a position. I just visualized the game I played yesterday and I can recall that my Bishop should have taken the pawn of e7 forcing the king to g8 or g7, I can see the rook on f1 anxiously waiting to take that pawn in case I changed my mind.

    The only thing I did was to think about it as clearly as I could. It just happens. I can actually set up the whole board right if I desired. I think it's the repeating of all the moves is the key.

    IMHO

    Thanks for reading, commenting and contributing to this aspect of chess. More people should realize that they are doing some part of it without know it.

    Denver

     Your brain in the hand is worth more than two queens in the game.

  • #9
    goldendog wrote:

    "I have seen Geo Koltanowski play 30 games of blindfold chess without a problem. What an impression that did to me. In his book “Travels of a Chess Master” he explained the process he took to learn to play without pieces."

    It was this book and Kolty that introduced me to blindfold play. I still think it is a fascinating and neat trick. 

    I had an idea years ago that a great publicity stunt for a chess club would be to arrange for a few of the more capable players to sit in a public square and have them take on all comers blindfold, with a referee (or two) of course to keep the players legal and honest for the hopefully fairly quick games.

    Any player could do this for a few hours.

    Most local TV stations would be glad to have a minute or two of such a spectacle of local interest.

    It would probably be as good as anything else you'd see for chess on local TV.

    It'd be good for chess in general.



    Hi there Dog

    Funny you call it a trick. I call it a tool. I am glad you read the book. I too learned to read in algebraic form and when they changed it the current merhod I had a hard time changing over. I could play blindfold the older way.

    I belonged to Koltawnoski's club in San Francisco at the Marina Jr. High on Thursdays.

    In later years I learned blindfold play because of necessity, to play at work without getting fired for playing chess.

    In my city I sort of helped set up one simul where a master was coming to play 20 boards. Since I was the tournament director for the city I thought I would get to choose the players. Or run a small tournament to see who I would choose to play.

    Sure I wanted some youth to play and also established players and some hight rated locals, but it was not to be. The city official that were not chess players decided that the master should play all children. They didn't want the master to lose any games. It wouldn't look right that he lost a game. The children probably were between 900 1000 rating. Well he came he conquered and not one of the players had a chance even if the master took off his queen, a rook and gave them the move.

    I stayed away from the simul. I saw a little blurb in the local paper. The officials were happy the master didn't lose one game. Of course the kids were thrilled playing and the parents proud that they participated.

    We don't have a local TV station. I was sold, closed, and moved.

    Thanks for reading and putting your thoughts down in the comments.

    Bye for now

    Denver

     

  • #10
    tonydal wrote:

    He was the first master I ever saw in person (way back in 1972, at the San Francisco Emporium [God rest its soul], where he was giving a simul at the height of Fischer fever).  They also had a gigantic plastic chess set on display which I remember vividly (the pieces were almost as big as I was at the time).

    Unfortunately, I didn't get to play Kolti though.  He took a break right as I got there with my grandmother...so I had to settle for a simul with Peter Grey, USCF expert.  Of course, he might as well have been Kolti (or Fischer, for that matter!) to me at the time.


    HI  NM tonydal

    I remember the Emporium on Market. Usually the stuff they support where on the fifth floor. I gather that you didn't win your game. I am sure Kolti would have made it fun, but you didn't get to play him. I sound like you were a youth at the time.

    He has passed away and so has his wife.

    Thanks so much for you read and the comment. You made me remember other things also.

    Denver

     
  • #11

    Hey  NM tonydal

    A sacrifice is always a surprise. Thursday I showed a friend how games have open centers or how they have close centers and forces attacks on the flanks.

    In the next game we played, as soon as he castled as black. I pushed the f pawn to f5 closing the center and isolating his queen side pieces.

    Lo and behold, he took that darn f5 pawn with his knight sacrificing a Knight for a pawn, forcing the center open and changing the way the game was going to be played.

    I asked him, "what are you doing sacrificing your Black Knight?"

    "Well you closed it, I'm opening it! Just like you told me I should do."

    "You were supposed to listen to what I said. Not use a sacrifice against me to open it."

     

    Last time I'm going to show him anything.

    Bye for now.

    Denver.

  • #12
     
    THE TERRIBLE BLACK KNIGHT!
    Plays Blindfold Chess With His Helmet On!
  • #13

    .

  • #14

    Thanks!!  A very enlightening and interesting posting.

  • #15
    batgirl wrote:

    Thanks!!  A very enlightening and interesting posting.


    Hello Batgirl.

    Thanks for the comment and I am also one of your fans.

    I always read y our posting. Thanks for doing that. You add to my coming to Chess.com



  • #16

    Thank You very much for reminding me that key is repeating previous moves after every new move is played. I was able to play blindfolded around 15 years ago, one time I played against 3 opponents (on 3 boards) simultaneously back then. One of them tried to steal some moves but I repeated to him whole game from start. Since then I didn't played blindfolded and lost "power"...

  • #17

Top

Online Now