What is Blindfold Chess?

What is blindfold chess (BF)?

According to Wikipedia it is a way to play chess, when play is conducted without players having sight of the position of pieces nor physical contact with them. How many times have you been amazed by somebody’s ability to easily and effortlessly calculate long variations during a game or come up with a neat tactics? I can bet that players who do such things are able to play well at blindfold chess. What does the BF chess do to help your game? First of it helps a lot in developing a good board visualization. When player is able to visualize a position in the head his calculation speed greatly increases, blunders are almost completely eliminated; new tactical ideas come up during a game and so on. Every strong player today is able to play blindfold chess.

How to play blindfold chess?
The easiest way is to learn to play blindfold chess is to get software which supports this option of play. Most modern chess programs such as Chessmaster, Fritz or Rybka allow you to play “vision free” chess. If you are a beginner in BF chess (I’m assuming you are since you’re reading this article) you should first set the engine strength to extremely weak: maybe even 400 elo. The idea of initial BF games is not to beat the opponent, but to be able to follow 40 move long games in your head. It sounds hard before you try it, but with a little practice it should come to you. During a BF game on a computer try at first after each move to point a computer mouse on an empty square of a chessboard and say out loud the names of pieces located on that square. Do it for your own and your opponents pieces. You tell me it takes too much time? Yes. But after a while you will be able to skip this part and just play BF like normal chess.

How to get better at blindfold chess?
Basically to get better at anything you just need more practice. It of course applies to blindfold chess. Just like practicing in normal chess play against weaker opponents first and than move up to stronger ones. Also, don’t forget to check out my How to Get Better at Chess guide.

Psychological factors
Even though blindfold chess is extremely helpful means of improving what psychologists call “visuo-spatial” orientation, or simply the board vision it can be a big stress for a nervous system. This is why simultaneous blindfold chess exhibitions were banned in USSR almost 80 years ago, in 1930.

Blank chess board on computer screen.

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Updated 01.06.2024


Nigel Hanrahan:
I see on another article that Yury is of the opinion that players of 1600-1799 could improve their play with Blindfold Chess. In a discussion with Hans Jung in Canada, Hans expressed the view that players as low as 1400+ could benefit from Blindfold chess. By the way, the discussion now has almost 600 entries, relating to the book, Blindfold Chess, and Blindfold Chess generally. See http://www.chesstalk.info/forum/showthread.php?937-Blindfold-Chess-the-book
Seeing the moves window is fine, the blindfold chess will still help to improve your board visualization. Good luck!
Hello! Can I watch a "move list" window, next to Rybka, during the match? My engine don't say the moves so I have no idea how to play except watching the move list...