In a blindfold game, at least one of the players is not allowed to see the board. Most of the time, however, this means one player is playing a simul of which he cannot see either the boards or the players. And while the term “blindfold” may imply that the said player is wearing a blindfold, he does not. Instead, he would usually have his back turned to the players and boards, calling out his moves to the game.
A “caller” would then announce the moves of the other players while a “referee” would make the moves on the boards on behalf of the blindfold player.
If a blindfold is used, it is usually to amuse the participants. After all, such blindfold feats are performed for amusement, amazement, and enjoyment for the participants and promotion of the game.
Here are some of my favorites.
Birmingham, Aug. 27 1858
1.e4 h6 2.d4 a5 3.Bd3 b6 4.Ne2 e6 5.O-O Ba6 (This series of unusual moves was no doubt adopted with the view of embarrassing the blindfold player, in place of which it served to allow him to bring out his pieces and secure victory in a shorter space of time.) 6.c4 Nf6 7.e5 Nh7 8.f4 Be7 9.Ng3 d5 10.Qg4 O-O 11.Nh5 g5 12.fxg5 hxg5 (Black has indeed placed himself in a deplorable condition in vainly attempting to puzzle his antagonist.) 13.Bxh7+ (Nf6+ would also have led to a speedy termination.) 13…Kh8 14.Nf6 dxc4 15.Bc2 Qxd4+ 16.Qxd4 Bc5 17.Qxc5 bxc5 18.Bxg5 Nc6 19.Rf3 (Threatening mate in two moves.) 19…Kg7 20.Bh6+ Kxh6 21.Rh3+ Kg5 22.Rh5+ Kf4 23.Kf2 (Terminating the game in masterly style, and giving it an interest, from the nature of the opening, which we had not looked.) 1-0
Blindfold Game, 1880
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.O-O d5 6.exd5 (This move opens the game too much for Black. Safer is 5…d6.) 5…Nxd5 7.Nxd4 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 Be6 9.Re1 c6 10.Nc3 Nxc3 11.Qxc3 Qd7 12.Bg5 Be7 13.Rad1 Qc8 14.Qxg7 +-
14…Bxg5 15.Qxh8+ Ke7 16.Qg7 Qg8 17.Rxe6mate 1-0
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ (Note – I used to call this the Kentucky opening. For a while after its introduction it was greatly favored by certain players, but they soon grew tired of it.) 6…g6 7.Qxe5 d6 (Not to be outdone in generosity.) 8.Qxh8 Qh4 9.O-O Nf6 10.c3 Ng4 11.h3 Bxf2+ 12.Kh1 Bf5! 13.Qxa8
13…Qxh3+ 14.gxh3 Bxe4mate 0-1
Blindfold Exhibition, 1885
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Nxd5 6.Nxf7 Kxf7 7.Qf3+ Ke6 8.Nc3 Ne7 9.d4 h6 10.O-O c6 11.dxe5 Nf5 12.Rd1 Ne7 13.Be3 b6 14.Rd2 Bb7 15.Rad1 Qd7 16.Qh3+ Nf5 17.Nxd5 cxd5 18.Bxd5+ Bxd5 19.Rxd5 Qc7 20.Qg4 g5 21.Qe4 Be7 22.Rd6+ Kf7 23.Qxf5+ Ke8 24.Rd7 Rd8 25.e6 Rxd7 26.Rxd7 Qxd7 27.exd7+ 1-0
H. Mela Jr.-Franco de Freitas
Blindfold Simul – 2 boards, 1996
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Nxd5 6.Nxf7 Kxf7 7.Qf3+ Ke6 8.Nc3 Nb4 9.Qe4 a6 10.d4 c6 11.a3 Qa5 12.axb4 Qxa1 13.Nxd5 Qxc1+ 14.Ke2 Qxh1 15.Qxe5+ Kd7 16.Qc7+ Ke8 17.Nf6+ gxf6 18.Bf7mate 1-0
1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 c6 4.Qe2 Be7 5.f4 d5 6.exd5 exf4 7.Bxf4 O-O 8.Nd2 cxd5 9.Bb3 a5 10.c3 a4 11.Bc2 a3 12.b3? (White creates a fundamental weakness in his castled position. But what else can he do? If he doesn’t play this move, then Black can put tremendous pressure on his queenside with moves like …Qa5, …Be6, and White is forced to play defence for the rest of the game.) 12…Re8 13.O-O-O Bb4 14.Qf2 Bxc3 15.Bg5 Nc6 16.Ngf3 d4! (Black entombs the king. The rest of the game is a completion of the task – which Alekhine does in a most spectacular way.) 17.Rhe1 Bb2+ 18.Kb1
18…Nd5! (The Queen is offered for the first time.) 19.Rxe8+ (Naturally 19.Bxd8 fails to 19…Nc3#) 19…Qxe8 20.Ne4 Qxe4! (The second offer!) 21.Bd2 Qe3 (The third offer!) 22.Re1 (Now White gets into the act!) 22…Bf5 23.Rxe3 dxe3 24.Qf1 exd2 25.Bd1 Ncb4! (And White finally realizes that he cannot stop Nc3#) 0-1
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.exd5 Nxd5 (The more modern move is 5…exd5.) 5.Ne4 f5? 6.Ng5 Be7 7.N5f3 c6 8.Ne5 O-O 9.Ngf3 b6 10.Bd3 Bb7 11.O-O Re8 12.c4 Nf6 13.Bf4 Nbd7 14.Qe2 c5
15.Nf7!! Kxf7 (15…Qc8 16.Qxe6 and White threatens 17.Nh6+, with mate to follow.) 16.Qxe6+!! (He goes there anyway!) 16…Kg6 (16…Kxe6 17.Ng5#) 17.g4 Be4 18.Nh4mate 1-0
George Koltanowski-Enrique Garcia
1.e4 c5 2.b4!? (Koltanowski used the Wing Gambit against unsuspecting opponents in simuls. He knew the theory; they usually didn’t. This game is an example.) 2…e6 3.bxc5 Bxc5 4.d4 Bb4+ 5.c3 Be7 6.Bd3 Nf6 7.Ne2 Nc6 8.O-O O-O 9.f4 d6 10.h3 Re8 11.Nd2 Bf8 12.Nf3 d5 13.e5 Ne4 14.Qc2 f5 15.exf6 gxf6 16.Bxe4 dxe4 17.Qxe4 f5 18.Qb1 Re7 19.Ba3 Rg7 20.Bxf8 Kxf8 21.Qb3 Na5 22.Qb4+ Kg8 23.Nc1 Qd5 24.Nd3 b6 25.Rf2 Bb7 26.Re1 h6 27.Nde5 Kh7 28.Qb1 Kh8 29.Kh2 Nc4 30.Nxc4 Qxc4 31.Qb3 Bd5 32.Qxc4 Bxc4 33.Ne5 Bd5 34.g4 Rag8 35.c4 Be4 36.Re3 Rd8 37.Rd2 Rdg8 38.d5 exd5 39.cxd5 Rc7 40.d6 1-0
George Koltanowski-Humphrey Bogart (yes, that Bogart!)
San Francisco, 1952
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.Bd3 Nf6 5.Ne2
[This is a tricky position. White varied with the seemingly better 5.Bg5, but lost after 5…Bd6 6.Ne2 O-O 7.Nbc3 c6 8.Qd2 b5 9.O-O Bg4 10.Rae1 Nbd7 11.Nd1 Qc7 12.Ng3 Rfe8 13.c3 Ne4 14.Nxe4 Bxh2+ 15.Kh1 dxe4 16.Bxe4 Qd6 17.Qd3 Bf4 18.Bxf4 Qxf4 19.Bxh7+ Kf8 20.Be4 Re6 (White has a problem – how does he stop 21.Rh6+?) 21.Bf3 Rh6+ (He doesn’t.) 0-1 (Garcia Galan Ruiz-Ortega Gonzalez (1905), Malaga Open, Spain, Feb. 23 2010).]
5…Bg4 6.O-O Bd6 7.f3 Be6 8.Bf4 O-O 9.Nd2 Nc6 10.c3 Ne7 11.Bxd6 Qxd6 12.f4 c5 13.Nf3 Nf5 14.Qd2 Ne4 15.Qc1 Rac8 16.dxc5 Qxc5+ 17.Ned4 Nxd4 18.Nxd4 Rc7 19.f5 Bd7 20.Bxe4 dxe4 21.Qf4 Re8 22.Rae1 Re5 23.Rxe4 Rxe4 24.Qxe4 Bc6 25.Qe3 (White has the advantage due to the open lines.)
25…Re7 26.Qg3 Re8 27.f6 g6 28.Qh4 h5 29.Re1 Rxe1+ 30.Qxe1 Qd6 31.Nxc6 Qxc6 32.Qe7 Qc8 33.h3 Qc6 34.b4 Qxc3 35.Qe8+ Kh7 36.Qxf7+ Kh6 37.Qe7 Qc1+ 38.Kf2 (The game is drawn after 38.Kh2?? Qf4+.) 38…Qf4+ 39.Ke2 Qc4+ 40.Kf3 Kg5 41.f7+ 1-0