Timur Gareyev Plays Record 48 Games Blindfolded

Timur Gareyev Plays Record 48 Games Blindfolded

PeterDoggers
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GM Timur Gareyev played 48 chess games blindfolded simultaneously from Saturday to Sunday in Las Vegas. The grandmaster from Uzbekistan, who now represents the United States, improved upon previous simuls by FM Marc Lang (46) and GM Miguel Najdorf (45) and hopes that his record will be internationally recognized.

Gareyev in deep concentration. | Photo: Lennart Ootes.

Throughout Saturday, December 3 and a bit of Sunday, December 4, Gareyev played chess simultaneously against 48 participants without sight of the boards. Against 43 on-site opponents and five online opponents, he scored 35 wins, seven draws and six losses. 

Gareyev shaking hands with his opponents at the start of the simul. | Photo: Lennart Ootes.

The simul took place at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas and ran from Saturday 8:30 a.m. until Sunday 3:39 a.m. There was a half-hour break because of a fire alarm so, in total, the simul lasted 19 hours and 9 minutes. His parents traveled to be with him for the memorable day.

The day-long event was a culmination of several years of preparation for Garayev. Previously, his largest blindfold exhibitions were 33 boards in St. Louis, 2013 and 35 in Santa Clara, CA earlier this year.

The record isn't officially recognized yet as an official representing the Guinness World Records was not present. However, everything was recorded, and all games were broadcast live, so there is a chance that the record will be recognized by Guinness at some point.

As always, Gareyev performed his simul while riding an exercise bike. | Photo: Lennart Ootes.

Unlike at some of his previous exhibitions, for this simul, Gareyev seems to have met the most important criteria for becoming historically recognized.

  • He reached an 80 percent score (38.5/48 is 80.2 percent).
  • The games all started at the same time.
  • His opponents were of decent strength (ranging up to 2200, with commentator Jay Stallings claiming the average was around 1700).

Time will tell if all this was enough.

Here's a game against one of the stronger opponents. Gareyev puts up a strong attack against the enemy king and eventually checkmates it on move 39—That was quite far into the simul.

Some of Gareyev's young opponents pondering their next move. | Photo: Lennart Ootes.

Gareyev, in fact, played half of his games with the black pieces. While visiting the world championship last month, he told Chess.com that this is helpful, as it creates some variety in the games. He also said that he uses other techniques to remember which board is which, including chatting with opponents the night before to learn their voices, which helps him remember which board is which.

"Sometimes people provide the moves in a certain way," he said.

Garayev also told Chess.com that he's adapted the technique of a "memory palace" that is used by memory competitors, usually used to remember things like numbers or the order of playing cards. He said each game is like "a room in a palace."

"It's all there," he explained to Chess.com. "I walk into my kitchen I see that stack of bananas." The abstract images are an analogue for specific moves, so presumably he now knows a lot of different fruits!

Here's one of those Black games he played, against another very decent opponent.

 

Andrew McGregor, the founder of the Los Angeles Chessboxing Club, was dressed for the occasion. | Photo: Lennart Ootes.

Here's another game as Black, which saw a nice attack:

But sometimes things went wrong as well. It's impossible to play 48 games without hanging something, right? So you have to accept that something like this can, and will, happen:

Here's an interview with Gareyev taken during the Carlsen vs Karjakin match in which he looks forward to his simul.

"Before his simul, Gareyev slept for about six hours," said Lennart Ootes, who was responsible for the live transmission as well as the photos (Gareyev told Chess.com he only got three hours before the Santa Clara event earlier this year) . "Afterward he was indeed extremely tired, but again woke up after about six hours of sleep."

"That's where the bike comes in," Garayev told Chess.com in November. "You exercise and you get energy."

"He seemed rather fresh, but at some point when he started running towards someone, he completely missed a glass door and bumped right into it," said Ootes. "But I am not sure if that was related to the simul."

Garayev did fall short of his personal goal of 40 wins. He told Chess.com he had been scoring about 90 percent his previous simuls.

By playing 48 boards, Gareyev had two important previous blindfold simuls in his sights: that of Miguel Najdorf in São Paulo, Brazil in 1947 (45 games: 39 wins, four draws and two losses) and that of Marc Lang in Sontheim an der Brenz, Germany in 2011 (46 boards: 25 wins, 19 draws and 2 losses).

After the simul, Gareyev said: "This is a cool experience. It's like a never-ending journey." He plans on visiting his home country Uzbekistan, but also Russia and Eastern Europe, "to continue and expand my tour."

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