Hello, I haven’t posted in a while and there have been many developments in the chess world. I will only focus on blindfold chess in this blog posting. Blindfold chess is simply playing chess with no physical board and pieces.
Levon Aronian won the Melody Amber Tournament some time back. That is one tournament I always look forward to as Blindfold chess is something that has always intrigued me a great deal. I also love rapid chess. I recall the awe I felt several years ago reading about the exploits of Paul Morphy, Hillary Pillsbury and Najdorf in Blindfold chess. How could someone play more than 10 people blindfold and at the same time as well? Contrary to most opinions, one does not have to be an expert in chess to play blindfold chess. However, a lot of practice is needed to master it.
Around 2003 I bumped into an old chess friend in the streets of Harare. I was about to do some banking but found some time to play a blindfold game which I was fortunate enough to win, one of the few games I managed to win against Farai. The whole game was played in about 10 minutes I believe with me playing white.
During the course of an ordinary game of chess, with real pieces, a certain amount of concentration is needed. A player will need to do long term and short term planning and need to visualize what future positions may arise. However, this can be just a few moves ahead, no rocket scientist stuff. Some people imagine that in chess, one must always be doing complex calculations. This is certainly not the case. In blindfold chess a lot of concentration is needed though, which can come with practice. It’s very easy to forget where pieces are. Even the great players do this sometimes. Currrent world chess champion Vishy Anand lost a whole queen in his game against Alex Morozevich at the Melody Amber blindfold. He captured with queen on the d5 square and lost the queen in one, playing on the white side and resigned soon afterwards. Vishy transposed or swapped move sequences. He should have simply captured with another piece and had a better position. http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=5315
Interestingly there are also a few players famous for not playing blindfold chess. The great Mikhail Botvinnik never played it and was not convinced of its benefits. Neither have I come across blindfold games by Bobby Fischer or Garry Kasparov. Given that these players are among the very best in the history of the game, it would have been very interesting to see what kind of blindfold chess they would play.
While I myself am not fully convinced of the benefits of blindfold chess it’s certainly fun to see people having a go at it. Besides, it’s not a bad idea to give the memory some exercise every now and then.