Book Cover Of Blindfold Chess by Eliot Hearst and John Knott

Book Review Of Blindfold Chess by Eliot Hearst and John Knott

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Table of Contents

I love the concept of imagination and visualization. This concept exists in chess and can also extend to several technical and abstract fields of study like mathematics, architecture, and so on.

A very good friend of mine was so good at playing a game of chess against me and other amateur players with his eyes covered with a blindfold

Yeah, you heard me right. It was so amazing to witness it. 

I so much desired this ‘ability’ because I realized that if I could do this, it would help my overall regular chess play, reduce miscalculations, and help sharpen my visualization strength on the chess board.

This desire grew and made me search for both books and articles that expanded on the art of blindfold chess and how to be proficient at it.

When I first saw the book titled ‘Blindfold Chess’ written by Eliot Hearst and John Knott, with the book cover showing the Great Alekhine who I found out at the time, to have successfully played thirty-two (32) blindfold games simultaneously, I was pumped to consume the entire content of this book.

I was so curious because I wanted to know how these masters of blindfold chess were able to make it possible.

Can you imagine a chess master playing 20-30 chess players, who sits in such a way that he backs them and sits at a good distance away from the playing scene? 

The twenty players will have their chess boards in front of them as Black in a rectangular arranged way while the chess master plays White without needing to see any of the 20-30 positions till the end of the game. It’s literally playing chess in the dark. 

With each board numbered 1 to 20, he only has to call his moves with the standard chess notation.

Back to the book, there are some awesome things about the authors: Eliot Hearst and John Knott.

Eliot Hearst (July 7, 1932 – January 20, 2018) was a teacher of psychology as an adjunct at the University of Arizona. He was also a distinguished professor emeritus at Indiana University and a U.S. Life Senior Master. In 1962, he captained the American chess team at the Olympics.

John Knott is a writer of many legal publications and a consultant at an international law firm’s London head office. In addition, he enjoys researching and playing chess.

Blindfold Chess: History, Psychology, Techniques, Champions, World Records, and Important Games

This book describes the personalities and achievements of some of the greatest blindfold chess players, including Philidor, Morphy, Blackburne, Zukertort, Pillsbury, Reti, Alekhine, Koltanowski, Najdorf, and Fine, as well as present-day grandmasters such as Anand and Kramnik. The book presents 444 game scores, including some never before published, peppered with diagrams and annotations. It also includes hints for playing blindfold and its practical value.

Let’s briefly go through the content of this book.

Blindfold Chess Summarised 

This book is a 475-page work subdivided into three main parts. The whole content is about world records, history, games, and the psychology of blindfold chess.

Part I was solely dedicated to the history of blindfold chess. It contained 7 chapters. 

These chapters talk about the times before Philidor, during Philidor’s time, and after Philidor which includes the twentieth century, women blindfold chess, and recent tournaments of blindfold chess (as at the time the book was written).

Part II contains 4 chapters and talks so much about the psychology of blindfold chess which includes research on general chess skills, commentaries on blindfold chess, techniques of blindfold chess champions, and myths or beliefs of supposed mental health hazards of blindfold chess.

Part III was solely dedicated to the 444 blindfolded chess games annotated in this book.

What Benefits Does The Book Offer?

This book provides a thorough and authoritative treatment of blindfold chess, the intriguing and difficult variation of the game in which players are blind to the board and pieces. 

The book is the epitome of chess literature that anyone can read well enough until part III where you need the knowledge of standard chess notations to enjoy the annotations of the blindfold games.

In addition, the book includes 444 blindfold games with author annotations that include illustrations and commentary. 

For Whom is This Book Intended?

With both simple and hard positions, as well as varying degrees of difficulty and teaching, the book is appropriate for chess players of all skill levels and interests. 

Along with entertaining and challenging you, the book will also educate and inspire you. It will demonstrate to you the elegance and difficulty of chess as well as the remarkable powers of the human intellect.

Positives Of The Book

– This was a well-written chess literature that contained a lot of images of chess blindfold players discussed under the history of chess which included likes of the Polgar sisters, world champions, and other past players of history that contributed to the art of blindfold chess.

– There were over 400 annotated blindfold chess games that contained short, lengthy, simple, and complex games interesting to study.

– The psychology of blindfold chess concerning the oversight of chess players’ calculation over a regular chess board was discussed while emphasis was placed on the huge importance of playing blindfold or imaginative chess based on players’ experiences.

Drawbacks I noticed

This book is an excellent resource on blindfold chess that is well-written and well-researched, so there aren’t many drawbacks. But among the potential downsides, I noticed that:

– Part III of the book does not have many chess diagrams. It’s like one or no diagram to one chess game. 

This makes it rather cumbersome and difficult for some readers to follow or understand all the details and analysis. Well, unless they have a chessboard by their side.

– The book is not very beginner-friendly because it presupposes some past knowledge and expertise with chess and blindfold chess. Some of the games and positions discussed in this book may not be appropriate for novice or casual players due to their complexity and advanced nature.

– There aren’t many quizzes or activities in the book to help readers hone their blindfold chess techniques, making it less participatory and useful. 

Furthermore, it provides no guidance on how to get better at performing under a blindfold or how to get past typical obstacles and issues.

Recommendations (For Those New To Blindfold Chess)

  • If you really want to get the thrill of playing chess with a blindfold then get the book.
  • As a beginner, you can get accustomed to blindfold chess if you train your vision by learning the names and colors of the 64 squares of the chess board.
  • I will advise that you learn the geometry of the board as well as the power movements of the individual pieces. This helps to prevent playing badly and reduce losses from blindfold chess.
  • If you are just starting blindfold chess, I’ll advise you to play the first few moves of the game blindfolded instead of playing the entire game blindfolded. As you get better at it, you can start playing the full game blindfolded.
  • Getting this skill/ability is not as difficult as it seems. Just be consistent and you will drive good results.

About the book: 

  • If you love chess literature which includes both male and female folks and you won’t get bored by reading the history and psychology of chess till page 172 where the first position of Tal’s game was referenced under Psychology of Blindfold chess, then you are good to go.

Final Thoughts

The writers of this book were able to capture my imagination and take me on a journey. 

The book was captivating and thought-provoking, with more positives than negatives. 

It also inspired me to expand my creative horizons. The book was honest and grounded in reality, with references to actual events and games.

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