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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Since I am on the subject of .....

...blindfold chess exhibitions, I thought I would see if I could find some of the records concerning this activity.

According to the website: ,

"Blindfold chess (also known as sans voir) is a way to play chess, whereby play is conducted without the players having sight of the positions of the pieces, or any physical contact with them. This forces players to maintain a mental model of the positions of the pieces. Moves are communicated via a recognized chess notation.
Blindfold chess was considered miraculous for centuries, but it is now accepted that any strong player today can play blindfolded, and many can keep track of more than one simultaneous blindfolded game."

"Blindfold chess was first played quite early on in the history of chess, with perhaps the first game being played by Sa'id bin Jubair (665–714) in the Middle East."

"The first known blindfold event in Europe took place in Florence in 1266. The great French player André Danican Philidor demonstrated his ability to play up to three blindfold games simultaneously in 1783 with great success, with newspapers highlighting his achievement, having taught himself to visualize the board while in bed at night when he had trouble sleeping."

" Paul Morphy held in 1858 a blindfold exhibition against the eight strongest players in Paris with the stunning result of six wins and two draws. Other early masters of blindfold chess were Louis Paulsen, Joseph Henry Blackburne (he played up to 16 simultaneous blindfold games) and the first world champion Wilhelm Steinitz, who played in Dundee, in 1867, six simultaneous blindfold games (three wins, three draws). It was seen by these masters as a good source of income."

"As time went by the records for blindfold exhibitions increased. In 1900 Harry Nelson Pillsbury played 20 games simultaneously in Philadelphia; not long after having attempted the unusual feat of playing fifteen chess and fifteen checkers games simultaneously (the record for blindfold checkers being 28 simultaneous games). The Czechoslovak player Richard Réti and Russian World Champion Alexander Alekhine were the next to significantly further the record.
In 1924 at the Alamac Hotel of New York Alekhine played 26 simultaneous blindfold games against very strong opponents (Isaac Kashdan and Hermann Steiner among them), with the score of +16 -5 =5. This was probably the strongest of any blindfold exhibitions ever held. The next year in February in Paris he faced 28 teams of four players each, with the impressive result of 22 wins, three draws and three losses. In the same year, Réti bettered this record by playing 29 players simultaneously in São Paulo and amusingly commented on his poor memory after leaving his briefcase behind after the event."

"On July 16, 1934 in Chicago, Alekhine set the new world record by playing 32 blindfold games, with the result +19 -5 =5. Edward Lasker was the referee for this event."

"George Koltanowski set the world's blindfold record on 20 September 1937, in Edinburgh, by playing 34 chess games simultaneously while blindfolded, winning 24 games and losing 10, over a period of 13 hours. The record was included in the Guinness Book of Records and is generally accepted as the world record to this day.Later, both Miguel Najdorf and János Flesch claimed to have broken that record, but their efforts were not properly monitored the way that Koltanowski's was. Najdorf's first record in Rosario, Argentina was against 40 opponents (+36 =1 -3) and was organised in an effort to gain sufficient publicity to communicate to his family that he was still alive, as he had remained in Argentina after travelling from his native Poland to compete in the 1939 Chess Olympiad. He increased this record to 45 opponents in São Paulo in 1947, with the result of 39 wins, four draws and two losses However, he had access to the scoresheets, and there were multiple opponents per board. Koltanowski claimed that he could have managed 100 games under those conditions."

"The last increase in the record was claimed by the Hungarian Janos Flesch in Budapest in 1960, playing 52 opponents and winning 31 games, with three draws and 18 losses. However, this record attempt has been somewhat sullied by the fact that Flesch was permitted to verbally recount the scores of the games in progress. It also took place over a remarkably short period of time, around five hours, and included many short games."

"There have been no serious attempts to increase the record since then, due to lack of interest in mere numbers.
One other notable blindfold record was set in 1960 by Koltanowski in San Francisco, when he played 56 consecutive blindfold games at a rate of 10 seconds a move. The exhibition lasted 9 hours with the result of 50 wins and six losses Koltanowski's specialty was conducting a Blindfold Knight's Tour on boards of up to 192 squares."


"The Knight's Tour is a mathematical problem involving a knight on a chessboard. The knight is placed on the empty board and, moving according to the rules of chess, must visit each square exactly once. A knight's tour is called a closed tour if the knight ends on a square attacking the square from which it began (so that it may tour the board again immediately with the same path). Otherwise the tour is open."You can see what is entailed by remembering a knight tour by clicking on the following link and viewing the animation of the knight tour there:


A recent book was devoted to the topic of "Blindfold chess". Written by Eliot Hearst and John Knott, the title is

"Blindfold Chess: History, Psychology, Techniques, Champions, World Records, and Important Game". 

You can read more about the book and blindfold chess by clicking on the following link:

The authors of the book also have a blog about blindfold chess which can be visited by clicking on the following link:

If you think that the quality of blindfold chess games  would be much inferior to that of games in which both players can see the board, guess again. Check out some of the games played blindfold  by Chess experts at these websites:

In closing out this blog entry concerning blindfold chess, here is a humourous television ad which uses blindfold chess to try and sell the  products of Thanks to World Chess Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk for bringing this advertisement to my attention! You can read Alexandra's blog entry concerning blindfold chess and this advertisement by clicking on the following link:

Alexandra Kosteniuk also points out that deceased and former World Chess champion, Mikhail Tal once gave a blindfold chess simul on ten boards. You can watch the amazing video of this blindfold simul by going to Alexandra's blog entry at her chess blog:

Some  videos (over an hour long) devoted to a discussion of blindfold chess can be viewed at the google video websi te.: The videos were created by one of The World's best Blindfold Chess performers today - FIDE Master: Darko N. Dimitrijevic. Use the google search engine, and put Darko's name in the search engine and you will be directed to his amazing videos,which discuss the history of blindfold chess.

Image:The image above shows GM Topalov (left) and GM Judit Polgar (right) playing blindfold chess in a match in 2006.

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Visit GM Alexandra Kosteniuk's Women's Chess Blog:Please click on the image below:

Visit GM Alexandra Kosteniuk's Women's Chess Blog:Please click on the image below:
Chess needs more women and girl participants and administrators!

Thoughts worth thinking about

"Our subconscious minds have no sense of humor, play no jokes and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image. What we continually think about eventually will manifest in our lives."-Sidney Madwed

Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every woman and man present their views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.- Albert Einstein Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia

A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world. - Mohammed

Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. -Albert Einstein

The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Ghandi

The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. - Helen Keller

Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person. - Dr. David M. Burns

Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. -His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw

Ego's trick is to make us lose sight of our interdependence. That kind of ego-thought gives us a perfect justification to look out only for ourselves. But that is far from the truth. In reality we all depend on each other and we have to help each other. The husband has to help his wife, the wife has to help the husband, the mother has to help her children, and the children are supposed to help the parents too, whether they want to or not.-Gehlek Rinpoche Source: "The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 pg. 165

The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.