Chess: Eyes on the prize at China blindfold chess contest

Phuket News, Thailand
Dec 20 2012

Phuket: Eyes on the prize at China blindfold chess contest

CHESS: Some of the world’s top chess players went eye-to-eye in China
on Wednesday in the year’s highest-level `blindfold’ chess tournament
– seen by some as the toughest challenge in the game.

Agence France-Presse
Thursday 20 December 2012, 04:37PM

Unable to physically see their own or their opponent’s past moves, the
players summoned headache-inducing levels of concentration to fight
for gold in a silent conference room, lined up in front of laptop
screens showing a blank board.

As each picked out a move, it was briefly displayed to their opponent
opposite before disappearing – although spectators outside were
allowed a full computer representation of the match.

World number two Levon Aronian of Armenia took the men’s title, while
China’s 18-year-old former women’s world champion Hou Yifan clinched
the women’s gold.

`It’s the ultimate pinnacle of the human brain,’ Beijing Sportaccord
World Mind Games organiser Geoffrey Borg told AFP, adding that the
blindfold tournament was `probably the world’s most difficult type of

Winners would even be tested for banned substances, organisers said,
but declined to go into details of the list.

Contestants complained of aching heads after hours of intense
concentration, having to visualise the entire state of the chess board
while planning as many as 15 moves in advance.

`After playing for five or six hours, you can get terrible headaches,’
said Hungarian grandmaster Peter Leko, who stormed out of the
competition room shaking his head after losing a match in a momentary
lapse of concentration.

But Hou seemed relaxed after securing her gold, which came with a cash
prize worth several thousand dollars.

`Blindfold chess is more about a player’s energy,’ said Hou, an
international relations student at a nearby university. `It makes
chess more interesting.’