Blindfold Simultaneous Exhibition by GM Timur Gareev

Have you ever tried to play an entire game of chess blindfolded? Have you ever tried to remember an entire chess game move by move just from the notation, without ever looking at a chess board? With some practice, most experienced tournament players can manage this. What about two games? With practice, most strong tournament players can manage to keep track of two blindfold games without looking at a chess board. But what about 14 games? Keeping track of 14 different games of chess simultaneously while blindfolded is an amazing feat that most ordinary players can only dream of. But for GM Timur Gareev, it’s just another practice session.

On Sunday, September 29, GM Timur Gareev visited the Las Vegas Chess Center and gave a 14 board blindfold simultaneous chess exhibition. A comfortable seat was created in the middle of the room using bean bag chairs, and tables were put in a circle around that seat. After a brief introduction and explanation of the rules, Timur literally put on a blindfold and started to play 14 games simultaneously. The club members announced their moves verbally and made the moves on the chess boards that were in front of them. But Timur could not see any of those chess boards. He had to keep track of all 14 of the positions in his head. When Timur was ready to make his move he announced it verbally, and his assistant made the move on a physical chess board. Timur played like this for more than seven hours without ever looking at a chess board. Timur won ten games, drew two, and lost two.

John Trivett and Jonathan Mikolic achieved draws against the grandmaster. With an over the board rating of just 1591, Jonathan Mikolic was one of the lowest rated players participating in the exhibition. But he played very solid chess. Timur probed Jonathan’s position, but Mikolic gave no ground. Eventually Mikolic forced a queen trade, and a few moves later Timur offered a draw in a completely equal minor piece ending.

Trivett appeared to be gaining an advantage in his game. But Timur sacrificed a rook for a knight, a pawn, and active play. Timur was able to use his well placed king and knight to force trades that lead to an equal endgame. In a dead drawn position, Timur offered a draw and Trivett accepted.

Daniel Dease and FM Tom Brownscombe managed to defeat the grandmaster. Here are their games:

Dease,Daniel (1791) – GM Gareev,Timur (2769) [B57]
blindfold simul, 29.09.2013

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bc4 Qb6 7.Nb3 g6 8.0–0 Bg7 9.Be3 Qc7 10.Qd2 0–0 11.Be2 Ne5 12.Bh6 Nc4 13.Bxc4 Qxc4 14.Bxg7 Kxg7 15.Rfe1 b6 16.Rad1 Bb7 17.Qd4 Rac8 18.e5 Qxd4 19.Rxd4 dxe5 20.Rxe5 e6 21.f3 Rc7 22.Re2 Rfc8 23.Rdd2 a6 24.Nd1 a5 25.c3 Ba6 26.Re1 Nd5 27.Ne3 Nf4 28.Nc1 Bb7 29.c4 b5 30.c5 Rxc5 31.Nb3 Rh5 32.Nxa5 Bd5 33.Rd4 g5 34.a3 Rh4 35.Rd2 Rh5 36.Nf1 Rh6 37.g3? Nh3+ 38.Kg2 g4 39.Rxd5 exd5 40.Ne3 gxf3+ 41.Kxf3 Re6 42.Rd1 Ng5+ 43.Kf2 Rf6+ 44.Ke2 Rh6? After more than six hours of blindfold play, Timur overlooks a knight fork. 45.Nf5+ Kg6 46.Nxh6 [46.Ne7+ Kf6 47.Nxc8 would win more material. But after 47…Rxh2+ Black would have more counter play.] 46…Kxh6 47.Rxd5 Rc2+ 48.Rd2 Rxd2+ 49.Kxd2 Nf3+ 50.Ke2 Nxh2 51.Nb7 Kg6 52.b4 Kf6 53.Nd6 Ke5 54.Nxb5 Kd5 55.Nc3+ Kc4 56.Nd1 Kb3 57.Ne3 Excellent technique by Dan! The black knight is trapped. 57.b5 Ng4 would be less clear. 1–0

FM Brownscombe,Tom (2226) – GM Gareev,Timur (2769) [E83]
blindfold simul, 29.09.2013

1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.c4 d6 4.Nc3 Nc6 5.Be3 Nf6 6.f3 0–0 7.Qd2 a6 8.0–0–0 Rb8 9.g4 e5 10.Nge2 b5 11.d5 Na5 12.Ng3 Bd7 13.c5 b4 14.Nb1 [14.c6 or 14.g5 would be better.] 14…Ba4! I underestimated this move. 15.Bxa6 Bb3 16.Qd3 Bxa2 17.Nd2 Ra8 18.c6 Qb8 19.h4 Nxd5 This sacrifice is a good idea, but 19…Bxd5 20.exd5 Nxd5 would be more accurate. 20.exd5 Bxd5 21.h5 Bxf3? This is the losing move. Timur gets a lot of pawns and some strong play for his sacrificed pieces, but it isn’t enough. In a normal tournament game, Timur would probably have found a better move. But when playing 14 games simultaneously against a field of opponents that includes master and expert level players, even a strong grandmaster sometimes has trouble keeping track of all of the tactics. 22.Nxf3 d5 23.Qb5 Qxb5 24.Bxb5 d4 25.Bg5 Rfb8 26.Bd3 Rb6 27.Kd2 Nb3+ 28.Kc2 Nc5 29.Ne4 Nxd3 30.Kxd3 Rxc6 Timur could try to regain some of his material with 30…f5, but after 31.gxf5 gxf5 32.Rhg1 White’s active pieces would create unbearable pressure against Black’s exposed king. 31.h6 1–0 White is driving back the few remaining black pieces and taking control of the game. Timur wisely resigns this hopeless game in order to focus his attention upon the other games still in progress.

Timur gave this exhibition as part of a series of blindfold exhibitions in various cities. George Koltanowski currently holds the record for playing the largest blindfold simultaneous chess exhibition, but Timur hopes to set a new world record before the end of this year.

I would like to thank PostNet for sponsoring this exhibition. Please show your appreciation of PostNet’s sponsorship by using them for all your printing needs. Juan Juaregui organized the exhibition, and Marck Cobb assisted GM Gareev by making most of his moves on the physical chess boards.

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