Long before Netflix decided to hype their Birdbox movie, people have been wearing blindfolds. They’ve featured prominently in magic acts, firing squads and kinky sex (but hopefully never in all three simultaneously.)
Timur Gareyev is a United States chess grandmaster who has used them for another reason: blindfolded chess. This is not a new variant; blindfolded chess has been around for more than a thousand years. Gareyev is merely the latest master of it.
Simultaneous chess is also a long-standing variant. Primarily used for demonstrations, it involves at least one person playing multiple games with different opponents simultaneously (thus the name.)
You can see where this is going, can’t you?
George Koltanowski played 34 games simultaneously in 1937. That record attempt was monitored by Guinness, and was the official record for more than 75 years. It was unofficially broken, however, by Miguel Najdorf in 1947. It was a display that covered 45 games simultaneously but was not monitored by outside agencies and therefore not recognized by Guinness.
Gareyev decided to put both grandmasters in the rear-view mirror by breaking the record while in a monitored situation. He did this during 2016 in Las Vegas, playing 48 opponents and winning 80% of the games over almost a full 24 hour stretch.
Here’s an interview with him about the event, with some video:
It’s worth hearing the interview. Really, it’s interesting even for people who don’t like chess.
Gareyev may seem like an overachiever, both playing blindfolded and playing a huge simultaneous match. That’s not the end of it, though. After all, it can be difficult to remain focused and awake when playing chess for 23 hours in a row. He came up with an unusual method for dealing with mental fatigue. He incorporated physical fatigue.
Through the duration of his record-setting chess spree, he rode an exercise bike. He racked up not only a Guinness record, but more than 50 miles.
Question of the night: what’s your preferred form of exercise?