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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

How Chess Grandmasters Think During Blindfold Simul: Timur Gareev's Cool Insights

Chess blog for latest chess news and chess trivia (c) Alexandra Kosteniuk, 2012

Hi everyone,
GM Timur Gareev has written a fascinating article on the USCF website. He writes about a blindfold simul he held recently. GM Gareev is aiming to hold a 64-board blindfold simul in 2013.

GM Gareev writes: Hello from Vegas and Happy New Year! I just finished the most incredible tournament of my life. Jamaal Abdul-Alim conveyed the details of the tournament in the article about the 2012 North American Open. I will be sharing an exciting blindfold exhibition I co-produced in Hawaii the week before Christmas. My vision is to reach a 64-board blindfold exhibition world record by the end of 2013.
I was excited to visit the island of Oahu for the 2nd time. I stayed in Waikiki which has an amazing balance of beautiful beaches and active social scene. We met with the Hawaii Chess Federation Scholastic Director Guy Ontai and our instructors Cornelius Rubsamen and Chet Gionson. The students demonstrated genuine interest and commitment. We all played a blitz tourney, competed in a talent show, and of course experienced the amazing 27 board blindfold simul at the Hawaii Washington Middle School.
The simul lasted 9 hours! Initially we got 10 people to start. 10 more people joined after one hour and a half. The last group joined in another hour. That served to create a smoother, faster-pace game flow. My previous experience of blindfold exhibition matches had included 4, 12, and 18 board simuls organized in Austin and Houston, Texas.
As was starting out playing my first simul, I tried to hold on to every position in my mind. I would recreate it over and over in attempt to solidify the image. As I found out later, I don’t need to do that. I can experience the position once. When I “come back” to the board, the position pops up automatically. My quickest session was the 18 board simul in Austin. The event took about 3 hours including many take backs I suggested for instructional purpose.

I felt a little rusty as I started my Hawaiian simul. I certainly felt the lack of consistent preparation which had previously included weekly blindfolded 3-hour matches. Though it is never easy, the mission had to be completed. I took a few moments to enter the meditative space. When my breath started feeling more harmonious I initiated the blindfold journey.

Players announce his or her name and the move in the first couple rounds. Some helpfully announce names throughout the event. Voice acts as an immediate trigger to reawaken the position. Some players may speak softly which can be resolved using a microphone. The player can not announce the move, until I announce the board number. Garyk Ontai was helping me lead the simul. We had a few players who had a hard time shouting out the moves. Garyk was announcing for a girl named Young. The first few times he did that, I was thrown off trying to recollect the player and the position.

Several beginners took advantage of my “fast” decisions and were able to seize big material advantage. None of them managed to convert or hold up in the end. The “2000 club” guys defended their honor with two draws and one win. As part of the fun we assigned a prize of $200 which was divided between the successful participants. 24 warriors were outplayed, outricked, or simply gave away all of their stuff.

Read more to find out why GM Gareev did not allow a young simul contestant to resign!

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