Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Blindfold Chess (Blindman vs. Machine)

The recent publishing of the book “Blindfold Chess” has lead to discussion on the chesstalk server. It got me thinking about the blindfold games I played years ago. When I was young I tried it out just to see if I could do it. It really impresses non chess players but it is actually easier than it looks. The trick is to check in your head where all your pieces are every few moves. My blindfold chess games were not very strong, most of the time, but good enough to occasionally beat my Novag Constellation. I’m not sure if my games even qualify as “blindfold” because I did have an empty board in front of me.

I remember the first time I ever played a blindfold game. It was a Saturday night and the hockey game was on the television. I placed a board and pieces on the table in front of my dad and challenged him to a game. I sat down on the floor in front of him with an empty board to look at, and called out my moves to my dad behind me as the Toronto Maple Leafs played hockey in front of us. I sure it must of been the Leafs playing because if it was Montreal I would have been more interested in the hockey game. My father is not a strong chess player and I was able to beat him but it did require intense concentration, especially as the game moved out of the opening phase into the middle game. A rematch happened right away but I was not as successful as before because I quickly lost track of where the pieces were sitting and kept trying to make illegal/ impossible moves and left pieces hanging everywhere.

As blindfold chess was on my mind today, I took out the weakest computer I have, the Go 1650L, and tried to play a couple of games without the pieces. I wrote down the moves but didn’t look at the previous moves on the scoresheet during the game. The computer was set on level 3 so it would move in less than 30 seconds. I’m not sure what strength that equates to but I am sure it is fairly weak.

Here, for your amusement, are the two “blindfold” games I played today. Please don’t be too critical of my play.



I wonder if playing blindfold chess will help improve a players regular chess by increasing their visualization skills. Has anyone else tried playing blindfold? What has your experience been?

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