Timur Gareev and Blindfolded Chess: 33 Games at Once

This is interesting:
33-board blindfold simul at US Championship

The 33-board blindfold simul in Saint Louis took ten hours and 39 minutes and left the chess community in Saint Louis dazed and amazed. His score: 29 wins, four draws and zero losses. The field, composed entirely of Saint Louis Chess Club members, had an average USCF rating of 1363, and featured of two experts, three class A players (1800-1999) and five class B players (1600-1799). CCSCSL Executive Director Tony Rich (USCF 2020) was the highest-rated player in the field and one of only four players to draw the blindfolded virtuoso. “It was a truly an amazing experience to witness this remarkable display of concentration and memory,” Rich said.

Does anyone know how this is done? Are there techniques, or is it just an ability that can be acquired with enough practice?

I would also like to know. Chess fascinates me

hmm… reminds me of a magic show i once watched… too many years past:
(noo, look what i found :slight_smile: )
how it -may- be done

if its the full show represented, he will explain how he did this little feat of his…

when that has been said: you do not need to have amazing skills with analyzing the different boards…(if you are able to memorize all positions, then you can delegate the moves among the people who you play against)(that would be an amazing way to experience chess)(the essence of what the show should reveal)…

(ofcourse, with the scores of the blindfold chess virtuoso would suggest that he did not use this kind of system(to any great conscious extent, i would not be surprised if he had this kind of routine up and working as a part of his training)))…

enjoy… :slight_smile:

I am actually a chessplayer (elo ~1950) and although it certainly seems like an impressive feat to play a blindfolded game of chess, it is actually much easier then people think. I can easily play a single blindfolded game and have also tried two and managed. However, playing 33 is of course still amazing.
I am not entirely sure that he uses any mnemonics though. The way I play chess blindfolded is simply imagining a chess board and since I have played so many games I can easily remember a “normal” chess position, that is any chess position that will arise in any game. The reason I want to mention that is because it is a huge difference between remembering a chess board position where the pieces are placed at random and a regular chess position which you could remember at a single glance just because you have seen so many positions with similar themes. Naturally, this ability to associate and remember positions gets better as you get more advanced since you will associate each position with more attributes.
Nevertheless, it is still an amazing feat, but if you want to be able to do it yourself I am afraid you will probably have to take the long way and get good at chess :(. Or one may ofcourse remember a chess position with mnemonics and recall it every time you are to make your move if you are playing multiple games. But for that you would at least need to be able to play one game blindfolded and also I think the recall time would be too much of a hassle.

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i would take your comment with a grain of salt still…
mnemnonics do not have “one” spesific way of dealing with the art of rememembering/recalling information…
i think a loose perspective on the art of memory is of valor even for what chess is considered…

this statement of yours have a purpose, but still i think the purpose defeats itself in some ways…
the form of chess is not that of linear recital(mnemnonics of remembering sequence of information)…(and people do very often rely upon linear recital, something that can remove you from the fun of the game/the immersion of what is going on down on the board)
the best memory i have had of chess was when i had the as few expectancies of the game as possible, then unfortunately i learned of the complexities, thereafter i went into a state of trying to bruteforce my way into the game(i did not try for very long as a child)… all the little fearies was soon eaten and all that was left was just
a broken lure…

as i said, i think chess is not about linear thinking,
but rather a state of making and breaking policies, implying ways of play upon the ones you play with.(this is the sensation i had as a child, in some sense, that i very rapidly lost to the spoils of complexity)(i am a lout as far as chess skill is concerned, but i do from time to time try to rediscover that first sight that i had of the game)

as for the magic show that i displayed in the link… i do not think the artist memorized the boards to a very far degree either, what i do know is that all the games that the performer made except for one, was based upon setting other peoples trains of play up against each other…
i just liked the concept of making oneself a conduit upon which to see how other people play against eachother…
a real neat way of studying the nature of the game itself somewhat from a more relaxed view…
i think that he just went in a sequence of black side, white side, blackside, white side, making sure that he went directly to the opposing players side… that is somewhat a feat of linking information together in the physical world.

i ask you to read up on josh waizkin: the art of learning(interesting read, very cool). since you are so much into chess i guess you know of this once upon a time child prodigy chessplayer… (the thing that interests me here is his first childhoodmemories of the very first games of chess that he saw being played out in the park)…

i think that perspective of his of how his world suddenly opened up to that game… i would say it almost looked like his first impression of the game was that of encoding what he saw as pieces of childsplay… it was something that
reminded him of something form somewhere else… faerietales are full striking images, childsplay are full of striking images for the child…
a striking imaginery is something that passes very easily into the unconscious mind…
and when you retell those imagines, those narratives, they each time may offer new perspectives…
i think that striking images is the way of seeing chess, basic chess formations…

i do agree with you that chess is a long term project, but i do think that those that have a love of that game, maybe do have a striking imaginery of what goes on within that game, that makes them endure the deeper mysteries of that game…

so, let us not choke this train of thought just yet…

I am almost certain that he didn’t use the same technique as Derren Brown which for one thing is a well know technique among chess players (known as mirror chess) and would have been recognised at once (and is of course considered cheating). However, the main reason I know that he can’t have used it is that he won a great majority of the games which is impossible if using that technique since you will lose one game if you win another. But to put this into a perspective I realise that it may not sound much when I said I could manage two games blindfolded, but a friend of mine (elo ~2300) have played ten blindfolded games with similar results. Also, most players with elo 1600 will struggle playing even one game and so what I want to say is that I believe the ability to play blindfolded games becomes much easier when your chess understanding increases. Needless to say, chess grandmaster with eloratings of above 2600 would have even easier to play blindfolded games. Another thing that might be of interest is that 33 games is actually not even the record (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blindfold_chess). Also, the wikipedia article seems to confirm my point.
Another thing that I want to clarify is that he might not have used mnemonics in the conventional way which was what I meant, but playing a blindfolded game implicitly means that you will use many techniques from mnemonics. Just planning your moves means that you will associate your plan with the position and so that can be considered a mnemonic although it is done automatically by just thinking about the position.

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ohh, i am sorry for the confusion around this… i do too agree that Timur Gareev could not have used this technique,
mainly because as you say, it is not possible to make such great statistics with mirrorchess…

i would like to test out mirrorchess online though in a somewhat small scale, following 2 players…

as to mnemnonics and chess… :slight_smile: you raise a good arguement… but i will not discard the idea… (nor will i break my head on it… so my stance is at it is :)… )

My understanding of this is that chunking is the primary tool. As chess ability increases, players stop thinking in terms of pieces on a board, and “I go here, he goes there” type of thinking. They begin thinking in terms of long term plans, weaknesses, targets to attack. Probably he tries to steer each game into a different strategic direction, and then he remembers “oh that’s right, this is the game where my opponent has doubled pawns on the c-file”, and to such a strong player, doubled pawns are a big chunk, a glaring weakness that he is salivating to attack.

As someone else said, to illustrate the difference, if you setup a board with a completely random arrangement of pieces (which is not likely to occur in a real game), then master chess players are no better than beginners. But when there are common themes, the master player far outperforms the beginner.

It’s also worth noting that his competition is not even close to being in the same league. A rating difference of 677 means the better player will win 99% of the time. His best opponent was not even within 677 rating points.

I have never found any mnemonic method for remembering a rapidly changing state, as in chess. It may be possible but it will require approaching the problem from a fresh direction. It may still be mnemonic based, but it won’t be how we normally memorize things around here. To start with, you are working with data structured as a tree (aka game tree, graph, etc), and even then what you are really after are knowing things like “are any of my pieces left unguarded?” That’s hard to answer without having quick access to the full state of the board. I think you would have to start by coming up with an alternate way of representing the state of a chess game that itself may be more complex, but may lend itself better to mnemonics.

Very interesting to think about this stuff!

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Back when I played tournaments I managed to get a non-provisional 2335 rating, although I never really did attempt too much blindfold chess myself, I believe the ability to play simultaneous blindfold games can be attributed to pattern recognition.

Since the game of chess is very organized, the brain can remember the idiosyncrasies of various positions that he has played, much like the way we can naturally remember the layout and contours of familiar dwellings that we use for our memory journeys. It may seem unrelated but I think the brain may be processing this type of information in much the same way, allowing it to really be as effortless to the blindfold playing grandmaster as it appears.

You can imagine that a better rating is like better eyesight, the higher the rating the easier he can see these “dwellings”, or more appropriately, chess positions. Thus a grandmaster understands and sees the ins and outs of these positions on a much deeper level than an average club player, playing these positions several times over his career allows him to become familiar with them, in much the same way we become familiar with our loci.

So it’s not such a great mystery, at least to me it would seem that the grandmaster is calling upon structured memories that the brain can effortlessly recall in a way that seems natural to the person playing one game or even several games of blindfold chess. It is entirely dependent on his experience and familiarity with the positions that arise in the game.

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I plan to create a system for blind chess. I am thinking of having one image for each individual piece that is easier to remember than chess pieces with a modifier for white/black pieces. My theory is a lot of larger objects or creatures would work be easier to remember than small chess pieces. I would want to create some sort of large scale grid system where I can move the images in my head to continuously b able to see the board more clearly in a way that is more similar to typical memory palace techniques. For reference, I am a 1600 player, and I can easily play one game of blind chess at a time just by visualizing the board.

Another thought is that I could use the chess pieces but at a larger scale and have them doing more action and movement than normal chess pieces. I seem to remember things better when the are moving in my head versus just sitting there.

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