|By Joel Benjamin|
|December 11, 2006|
I read that in August 2006 in Mainz Germany, future World Chess Champion Levon Aronian won a game of chess960 that he played blindfolded. His opponent was only an amateur. Still this strikes me as substantially more difficult than playing traditional chess blindfolded.
What do grandmasters think: is chess960 a lot harder to play blindfolded than is traditional chess?
A blindfold game of chess960 sounds like excruciating torture! Mind you, I try to avoid all blindfold play; it just gives me a headache. My buddy Larry Christiansen often wows crowds with blindfold exhibitions. More power to him!
In blindfold chess, a grandmaster can use his long-term memory (opening theory, standard strategies) to assist him. It must be much more difficult to remember where all the pieces are in chess960.
I don't know how they did it, but Aronian would have had an easier time if he were given a screen with the starting position of the pieces rather than a scarf over his eyes.
This form of chess has been made more popular since Bobby Fischer lent his endorsement, but back in the 70's a similar game called Prechess had a brief popularity. In Prechess each player would put a piece on the back row one by one until every square was filled. Players could develop strategies from their favorite placements, though it might not work against your opponent's setup. I recall I fared much better against GM Benko with Black, because I would wait for him to put his king down, and then put mine on the other side!