If chess is physics, a blindfold simul is rocket science!

by Avathanshu Bhat
1/8/2018 – The seventh round of Eka by IIFLIM International Chess tournament 2017-18 saw a very interesting event: an exciting blindfold simul starring GM Timur Gareyev! The Blindfold King was challenged by 12 young chess players, some of whom gave a very tough fight. Avathanshu Bhat, who was also in the simul, reported on the event. Timur not only played the simul scoring 10½ / 12 (with 3 draws), he also won his classical game against a 2300+ opponent and then came to the commentary studio to explain his win in a 25 minute masterclass! At the end of the day all we can think is, where does the man get all this energy from?! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

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"I close my eyes so I can see!"

I have played many regular chess games. I have played one or two simuls. But never have I seen a Blindfold Simul before! To me, it was something beyond what I could comprehend and understand. But yesterday, the wonderful people behind Eka by IIFLIM International Chess Tournament gave me the opportunity to experience one for myself!Avathanshu Bhat

I was among the twelve players that would challenge the Blindfold King, and a world-record holder, GM Timur Gareyev. The players had 40 minutes and no increment, while Timur had 1 hour and 30 minutes for each board. But there are many interesting things about Timur that must be noted. Of course, he made the world record when he played against a whopping 48 boards simultaneously and won 35 games, drew 7 and lost 6 in just under 19 hours.What I found interesting to see, however, is his behind-the-scenes preparation shown to all.

He seemed to be playful before it started, and he was juggling balls, playing catch with some players, having everyone introduce themselves, and all in all, having fun. Little did I know that these were actual preparations for the game. He played with the balls to increase his concentration for the game. But the story behind the voice is a little bit more in depth.

Garyev plays ball

Timur plays with the ball with a volunteer and IM Vishal Sareen to increase his concentration | Photo: Amruta Mokal

I learned from an expert on blindfold simuls that it is very important for the blindfolded player to hear everyone's voice. This is because it is easier to recognise a board by hearing the player's voice, rather than by trying to remember the board number when it is called out. The procedures were that Mr. Praful Zaveri would announce a board number (for example, 'board 1') and the player would announce his move (such as e1-e4).

IM Sagar Shah

IM Sagar Shah interviewed the players before the start of the game! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Rajveer Nahar | Photo: Amruta MokalThere were some very enjoyable questions and fitting replies by the young players. Rajveer Nahar was asked: Do you like Timur's hairstyle? This is the how the young boy (pictured) replied.

GM Timur Gareyev would always play his blindfold simuls while on a stationary bicycle. Reportedly, he cycled 22 kilometres by the time the simul was over. Timur says that cycling during the simul helps him keep his rhythm and indirectly concentrate better on his games. Well, it surely worked for him as he played some excellent games.

At the end of the simul, he scored 10½, winning 9 and drawing 3. Timur played brilliantly in all his games. In some of the games he was in a difficult situation but he wriggled out of it well to not lose even a single game.

Simul results

Name Pts. Result Pts. Name
Gareyev Timur 0 ½ - ½ 0 Kadakia Veer
Avathanshu Bhat 0 0 - 1 0 Gareyev Timur
Gareyev Timur 0 1 - 0 0 Gupta Ananya Vikas
Bhagat Kush 0 ½ - ½ 0 Gareyev Timur
Gareyev Timur 0 1 - 0 0 Kukreja Sankalp
Kapadia Prisha 0 0 - 1 0 Gareyev Timur
Gareyev Timur 0 1 - 0 0 Lwanga Aguda
Rajveer Pinkesh Nahar 0 0 - 1 0 Gareyev Timur
Gareyev Timur 0 1 - 0 0 Rosh Jain
Mhatre Rahat Rahul 0 0 - 1 0 Gareyev Timur
Gareyev Timur 0 1 - 0 0 Rounaiv Rana
Sharanya Vinayak Adane 0 ½ - ½ 0 Gareyev Timur

The entire blindfold show captured in seven minutes!

Developing the initiative

Dynamic play is what makes your chess effective and most importantly fun! Timur Gareyev shows severeal examples which aspects are important to remember when seizing for the initiative!

Standout games

These three youngsters stood out from the crowd.


Click or tap a game in the game list to switch

Sharanya Adane

Sharanya Adane didn't let Timur get away with the full point | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Kush Bhagat

The "real" champ! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Veer Kadakia

Veer Kadakia lost two pawns in the opening and was on his way to defeat, but then fought back to hold the draw! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Rosh Jain

The little Rosh Jain gave an excellent fight but eventually lost to Gareyev | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Praful Zaveri

Praful Zaveri made all the moves for Gareyev and walked nearly 11 kilometres during this simul! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Gathered crowd

The crowd gathering was humungous | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Group picture

The group picture after a tense simul! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

It's tough for Timur when he is blindfolded, but I think it should also be viewed from the side of the player. It becomes slightly stressful to play and anticipate Timur's move. Also, you sometimes lose your focus, and hence your plan, when a player speaks. Sometimes you would be stuck waiting for your turn to tell him the move. The rotation too could not be adhered to by the end due to low time. Nevertheless, it was a fun and great experience and every bit of it had something which you could learn from.

While Timur played, ChessBase India was live on Youtube with IM Sagar Shah commentating on the games

Meanwhile, the IIFLW Mumbai International tournament

The organisers had arranged to felicitate Timur for his wonderful show at the simul, but it had to wait, as Gareyev was once again busy playing chess in the seventh round of the IIFLW tounament against Debarshi Mukherjee (2313).

Timur Gareyev vs Debarshi Mukherjee

Timur Gareyev against Debarshi Mukherjee | Photo: Amruta Mokal

And after the game was over, Timur (of course, he won!) came in our commentary room and was interviewed by Aditya Pai. Just have a look at his instructive comments.

Timur Gareyev explains his win over Debarshi Mukherjee

So much to learn from this great man! Where does he get all of his energy from? To quote Paul Gauguin, whose quote Timur used on his website:

"I close my eyes so I can see"

Truly, The Blindfold King is worthy of his title!

Replay all 12 games of the simul:


Trompowsky for the attacking player

Tap into your creative mind and start the game on a fresh note. The Trompowsky (1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5) is an opening outside of conventional wisdom. Create challenges and make your opponent solve problems early on.


Avathanshu is a 17-year-old chess player from Mumbai. Apart from being a chess fanatic, he is a voracious reader and his favourite books include Wonder by R.J. Palacio, Lord of the rings by J.R.R. Tolkien and the complete adventures of Feluda by Satyajit Ray. He loves Daniel King and enjoys his Power Play DVDs very much. He maintains his own blog. Like his FaceBook page for more updates!


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