Blindfold Chess


      Blindfold chess refers to regular chess, but played without seeing the chess board. The blindfold player (not really blindfolded, just out of sight of the boards) is told the opponent's move, then announces his own, usually to a referee, who makes the move on the opponent's board.


      Perhaps the first blindfold game was played by Sa'id bin Jubair (665-714) who was to play one game of chess without site of board, and not feel the pieces while playing, in the Middle East.


      In 1265 the Muslim player Buzecca was playing chess blindfolded. It was said that he played two games blindfolded in Florence in 1265.


      In 1744 Philidor played 2 opponents blindfold simultaneously in Paris. This was the first time blindfold play against two opponents was recorded. He said he had learned how to play blindfold chess when he could not sleep at night, so he played chess in his head without site of a chess board.


      In 1751 Philidor played 3 opponents blindfold simultaneously while in Berlin. He won all three games. He was actually blindfolded in the exhibition.


      In 1783 Philidor again played 3 opponents blindfold simultaneously.


      In 1795 Philidor played his list blindfold exhibition. In London, at the age of 68, he played two games blindfolded and a third game with sight of the board. Philidor died two months later.


      In 1857 Louis Paulsen played 4 opponents blindfold simultaneously.


      In early 1858 Morphy played 6 opponents blindfold simultaneously in New Orleans.


      In 1858 Paul Morphy played 8 opponents blindfold simultaneously. The 8 players were the strongest players in Paris. The games were played in the Cafe de la Regence. The players were Baucher, Bierwith, Guibert, Lequesne, Morneman, Potier, Pret, and Seguin. The exhibition lasted 10 hours. Morphy won 6 and drew 2.


      In 1861 Paulsen played 10 opponents blindfold simultaneously in London. He won 9 and lost 1 after six hours of play.


      In 1876 Zukertort played 16 opponents blindfold simultaneously.


      In the late 19th century, Pillsbury was playing 15 games of chess and 15 games of checkers blindfold simultaneously. The world record for the number of checker games played blindfolded simultaneously is 28.


      In 1900 Pillsbury played 17 (New Orleans) then 20 (Philadelphia) opponents blindfold simultaneously.


      In 1916 Kostic played 20 opponents blindfold simultaneously in New York.


      On August 6, 1919 Reti played 24 opponents blindfold simultaneously in Haarlem, the Netherlands.


      In 1921 Gyula played 25 opponents blindfold simultaneously in Berlin. He won 15, drew 7, and lost 3 games.


      On April 27, 1924 Alekhine played 26 opponents blindfold simultaneously in New York. Alekhine learned how to play blindfold chess when he was confined in a hospital in World War II after a spine injury.


      In February 1925, Alekine played 28 opponents blindfold simultaneously. He won 22, drew 3, and lost 3.


      In 1925 Reti played 29 opponents blindfold simultaneously in Sao Paulo. After the exhibition, he was going home and forgot his suitcase. When somebody reminded him about it, Reti said, "Thank you very much. My memory is so bad..."


      In 1930 blindfold chess exhibitions were banned in the USSR because it was considered a health hazard on the brain.


      In 1933 Alexander Alekhine played 32 opponents blindfold simultaneously in Chicago. He won 19, drew 9, and lost 4 games.


      In 1937, George Koltanowski (1903-2000) played 34 opponents simultanously without sight of board in Edinburgh, Scotland. He won 24 games and drew 10 games. The exhibition lasted 13 1/2 hours.


      In 1943 Najdorf played 40 opponents blindfold simultaneously in Rosario, Argentina. He was trying to gain publicity to let his family members in Europe know that he was still alive.


      In 1947 Miguel Najdorf broke the world record for blindfold chess by taking on 45 opponents simultaneously at Sao Paolo, Brazil. The display started at 8 pm on January 24, 1947 and finished at 7:30 pm on January 25. He won 39 games, drew 4 games, and only lost 2 games.


      In 1955, George Koltanowski, age 51, played 12 opponents blindfold simultaneously in Vancouver, British Columbia. This was the record for the most games blindfolded for a player that reached 50.


      In October 1960 Janos Flesch of Hungary played 52 opponents blindfold simultaneously in Budapest. He won 31 games, drew 3 games, and lost 18 games in 12 hours play.


      In December 1960 Koltanowski played 56 opponents blindfold consecutive (not simultaneously) in San Francisco. He won 50 games and drew 6 games. The exhibition lasted 9 hours. The moves were made at 10 seconds a move. As soon as a game was over, another person took his place.


      In 1986 Leo Williams played 27 opponents blindfold simultaneously in 18 hours and 45 minutes in Montreal. This is a record for a Canadian player. He won 21, drew 3, and lost 1.


      In 2004 Jonathan Barry, age 51, played 12 opponents blindfold simultaneously in Iowa. This tied the record for most games played blindfolded for a player over 50.