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Marc Cressac; Chess Fact-Checked by Marc Cressac | Updated 2023-01-14
Founder of Chessily.com

Blindfold Chess: Playing With Your Eyes Closed

Ever had the feeling that playing chess the normal way is too easy? We’ll… we certainly haven’t. Still, if you’re looking for an extra challenge, you might enjoy playing chess blindfolded. Let’s see how that works!

What is Blindfold Chess?

As the name suggests, blindfold chess involves one (or even both) players being blindfolded while playing. Meaning, the player has to memorize all the moves, visualize the position and communicate their moves without ever having a look at the chess board. Sounds hard? Well, it sure is!

A spectacular display of blindfold skill is this simul exhibition, where Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen plays three different opponents at the same time, while being blindfolded:

How To Play Blindfold Chess

There are different ways of playing blindfold chess, both online and offline:

With Only One Player Blindfolded

Blindfold matches are often played with only one of the players being blindfolded. In this setup, the blindfolded player communicates his moves with chess notation, which are then performed on the board by the other player.

This blindfold-configuration is common to mitigate a playing advantage for the stronger player.

With Two Players Blindfolded (Or: No Chess Board)

When both players are capable of playing blindfolded with confidence, a game of chess can be played completely without a chess board!

Both players simply communicate their moves to each other, keeping track of the position mentally. This is the ultimate form of a portable chess board!

Online Blindfold Chess

Both lichess.org and chess.com offer the possibility to play blindfolded chess online, either for both players or just one.

This is a great opportunity to improve on your blindfold skills, as you can literally play as many games as you want, without needing a real-life opponent.

How To Get Better at Blindfold Chess

Obviously, playing chess blindfolded is not an easy feat. It requires incredible memory and visualization skills, to even compete with the weakest players without making mistakes.

  • Be comfortable with chess notationObviously you need to be able to fluently “speak” chess notation to understand your opponents moves and communicate your own. While most chess players are fairly good at understanding chess notation, it can really help to elevate your skills to the next level, making you are more confident blindfold player.
  • Regularly perform visualization exercises. The major challenge with blindfolded play, is the visualization of the position. To get better at this, you can train with chess puzzles that only give you the squares of the involved pieces, without you seeing the chess board. This is called a visualization exercise and it greatly improves your chess as well as blindfold skills!
  • Play blindfold chess often. As with every skill, you need consistent and regular training to get better. So, make sure to play plenty blindfolded games!

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