Long before Beth Harmon saw visions of chess boards on her ceiling in the Queen’s Gambit series, Canadian Hans Jung was experiencing the very same thing at home.
His parents insisted he go to bed early on school nights, but he’d spend the time analyzing imaginary positions. It led to a career as a chess master and a practitioner of blindfold chess.
Jung’s most impressive performance came in 1993 in London, Ont. when he played 26 people simultaneously without ever looking at any board. He was pumped right after, but suffered bad vertigo over the next two days.
“It’s like the Ironman of chess,” says Jung of blindfold play. Now in his 60s, he says blindfold ability declines with age, but he’s confident he could still do five boards at once.
Jung worked for years as the City of Kitchener’s chess co-ordinator, and hopes to be organizing more activities soon in his current role at Waterloo Public Library. Blindfold play always draws a crowd, but the number of people who can do it is very small.
Timur Gareyev holds the current world blindfold record. He played 48 simultaneous games in Las Vegas five years ago, winning 35 and drawing seven.
Alexander Alekhine v Martin Fischer, Tarnopol, 1916
How does White, who is blindfolded, proceed?
15. Nf7! If the Black Queen moves, 16. Qxe6 is deadly. But if Kxf7 then White plays 16.Qxe6+ anyway, because Kxe6 17.Ng5 is mate, and other Black moves lose as well.