Sometimes, people boast ‘I could beat you with one hand tied behind my back’, or ‘I can do that blindfolded’. The picture below, (although a blindfold is missing, but the guy in center is facing away, so it’s same as if he were blindfolded (unless someone in front of him is giving him elaborate cues on what is going on behind him, probably not)) shows a guy playing 28 others without looking at the boards.
The potential depth of a chess match is incomprehensible to a casual player. With 64 squares and 32 pieces in play initially, it may seem a small field to a layman. They couldn’t be more wrong.
Most casual players (like me) follow a strategy of trial and error, with some occasional traps thrown in. They are in awe of the experts who play with proper strategies and tactics. These experts, in turn, are in awe of those masters who actually play the game blindfold.
Yes, blindfold. Arjun had it easier nailing a fish compared to blindfold chess.
Some players are able to mentally visualize entire matches in their heads. Visualization helps them to play blindfolded. In any sport it is an invaluable practice to put yourself in your opponent’s shoes and try to anticipate their next move. In chess this is even more essential than other games.
Following is an excerpt from a book by Maxwell Maltz, titled Psycho-Cybernetics:
“The April, 1955 issue of Reader’s Digest contained an article from The Rotarian by Joseph Phillips, called: “Chess: They Call It a Game.” In this article Phillips tells how the great chess champion, Capablanca, was so superior to all competition that it was believed by experts that he would never be beaten in match play. Yet, he lost the championship to a rather obscure player, Alekhine, who had given no hint that he even posed a serious threat to the great Capablanca. The chess world was stunned by the upset, which today would be comparable to a Golden Gloves finalist defeating the heavyweight champion of the world.
Phillips tells us that Alekhine had trained for the match very much like a boxer conditioning himself for a fight. He retired to the country, cut out smoking and drinking and did calisthenics. “For three months, he played chess only in his mind, building up steam for the moment when he would meet the champion.”
Of Alekhine it has been said, “He had great imagination; he could see more deeply into a situation than any other player in chess history. … It was in the most complicated positions that Alekhine found his grandest concepts.”
Try it yourself sometime. Visualizing. Not entire matches, just start with thinking a few moves ahead. You’ll be surprised at the improvement in your game.