Playing blindfold has always been a main atraction for chess players and public at large. There is something magic about someone being able to play one or more games in the same time without seeing or needing a chess board and pieces. Wikipedia has a very nice article on "blindfold chess". It looks like the record today (included in the Guiness Book of Records) is still the one established by George Koltanowski on 20 September 1937, in Edinburgh, by playing 34 chess games simultaneously, winning 24 games and losing 10, over a period of 13 hours.
Practicing to play this way improves one's memory and visio-spatial abilities, meaning to know exactly where all pieces are and their potential at all times. You can start by playing one game against a friend or family member and do your best to finish it. At the beginning you can have a look at the board 3 times during the game to refresh your memory; if you need more than 3 times, you lose. It is pretty fun to do it and gives your friends and parents better odds at playing you.
The above position is from a blindfold game. We are at move 33 which might not look too impressive, except it is a game between 2 Grand Masters. Your tasks:
a) Analyse the position and propose a plan for both sides
b) White to mover and win
Can you do it without moving pieces? How about blindfold after looking at the position for 2 minutes?
Total available points for this puzzle is 20. The answers will be published next week together with puzzle #121.
Puzzle #119 solution:
Velimirovic vs. Csom have played the game generating this position back in 1974. Interestingly enough only the top 3 solvers have got the solution right and complete; some missed it the first time, while others did not get it at all. Rick's answer:
"1. Bxf7+ Rxf7
If 1... Kh8? 2.Bxe8 ... is self explanatory. The open f-file will haunt Black very shortly...
2.Qxe8+ Nxe8 3.Rxe8+ Rf8 4.d7! Qd6
I was stumped here for some time. It seems that Black has defended accurately and is 4 points ahead in material. There doesn't appear to be any mating threats either. What now?
A very deep and useful move. The pawn on d7 is taboo because the Queen must defend f8. Black's King and Rook are both paralyzed, while the Queen has no useful moves. Rooks on open files, a pawn on the seventh rank, enemy pieces stuck... what more could a good position ask for?
Sadly, this is the best move for black.
6.Rfxf8+ Qxf8 7.d8=Q 1-0
Black's Queen is lost and white has a massive material advantage."
Karl's choices for move #4 for Black:
"These are some of black's possible attampts to stop white:
4... Qf4 5.d8Q ... White is up a Rook
4... Rxe8?? 5.dxe8Q#
4... Qh5 5. Rxf8+ Kxf8 6. d8Q+
4... Qb8 seems to be the best, but after
Black cannot stop the d7 pawn from Queening and is toast. Example:
5... Kf7 6.Rf1+ Kg8 7.Rfxf8#
5... Qd8 6.Rxd8 Rxd8 7.Re8+ ... 1-0"
Edwin, Rick, Owen - 20 points
Andy Y, Karl, Jeffrey - 18 points
Alex - 12 points
James - 8 points
Frank - 1 points
Owen - 378 points
Andy Y - 373 points
Karl - 356 points
Edwin - 321 points
Jeffrey - 274 points
Alex - 219 points
James - 215 points
Andy Q - 214 points
Humphrey - 180 points
Nathaniel - 144 points
Amir - 103 points
Rick - 38 points
Frank - 31 points
Marko - 10 points