Friday, January 9, 2015

Blindfold battle between Nisha and Padmini

It has been generally accepted that chess is the most intellectual game ever played by humans. But somehow the classical time control of one and half hour each does not make it a spectator sport. In a bid to make chess more of a spectator sport, people have tried many ideas. Truncating the time control is one idea. Blitz is interesting for the spectators but the quality of the game deteriorates by quite some extent. Simultaneous displays look like a very interesting idea to catch the fancy of the observers.

The little Nigel Short giving a simultaneous display to people who are five times his age!

Then people found a more interesting way! The person giving a simultaneous would not be able to see the chess board. In the above picture you see 13-year-old Parimarjan Negi giving a blind fold simul to four participants. (He scored 3:1)

Then there came a man who did something simply unbelievable. 

Timur Gareev made the world record for playing blindfold against 33 opponents and scored 29 wins and 4 draws! Simply amazing!

Though blindfold simultaneous displays were interesting and showcased the powers of human mind, it did not contain the sporting flavour. The competitive feeling which comes when two equal opponents are seated opposite each other. And that is the reason why one on one blindfold games according to me are the most interesting from a spectator and sporting point of view.

Veselin Topalov takes on Judit Polgar in Bilbao. The funny thing is why have they kept the board in front of the players when their eyes are blindfolded? Either remove the board or remove the blindfold!

Here's the reason: The blindfold was worn just as a representation that the players were going to play without seeing the board. It was removed as soon as the games began.

According to me this is the best method to play blindfold chess with both players sitting next to each other and calling out moves, while the moves are executed by someone else on a chess board.

The reason why I am going into the intricacies of blindfold chess is because, two of India's most prominent women players, IM Nisha Mohota (2278) and WGM Padmini Rout (2388) are going to play a blindfold exhibition match tomorrow i.e the 10 of January 2015. The venue of the match is Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), Sri City, Andhra Pradesh.

Padmini Rout who is seen here with her mother is the 2014 National Premier (A) champion of India...

...While Nisha Mohota (right) seen here with her sister is the current National Challengers (B) champion! 

The IIIT college faculty have come up with some interesting posters for this event:

Virat is powerless when he is blindfolded...

....And so is Lionel Messi.

But the blindfold doesn't really affect these two champions! They can still play the sport that they expertise in to their fullest potential!

Vision is important. Not sight!

It is so wonderful that the college is using the game of chess in order to promote their college as an "institute with a vision". The two players will be playing in front of an august gathering. Most of the people will be highly educated and distinguished personalities in the field of science and education.

I was able to ask a few questions to the two players before this crucial game:

1. So how have you prepared for this blindfold game?
Nisha :I played four blind games against my mother who is a beginner just knowing the moves. I just wanted to see whether I am able to visualise the position on the board.

Padmini: I solved some positions blindly and also played a blindfold game with my father which was a good way to prepare!

2. What is your strategy for the game tomorrow?

Nisha: This is a completely different experience than a normal game. Here I am not concerned about how my opponent will play but more so it's a battle against myself. I am more concerned about how good I will be able to focus in front of an August gathering of elite people outside the familiar chess circle.

Padmini: Strategy is to play a good game. :)

3. Are you afraid that you will make an illegal move?

Nisha: I hope I won't make illegal moves. ..but you never know

Padmini: I am pretty sure I wont make an illegal move!

4. Do you have any previous experience of playing blindfold chess?

Nisha: I played in the fantastic match of maharashtra vs rest of India conducted by the player who I believe makes the most novelties out of the chess board: Abhijit Kunte.

Padmini: Once played a blindfold match in Maharashtra vs Rest of India.

So who is the favourite in this match? It is said the young players usually can visualize better, so that advantage lies with Padmini. Also in their past encounters, Padmini has scored heavily against Nisha.

Both of them have played each other 11 times and the score is 7.5-4,5 in Padmini's favour with four wins and seven draws. The last two games in 2014 however ended in draws.

So the age and past results are in favour of Padmini but Nisha is approaching this game with a very positive frame of mind. Says Nisha: "This event is for my non chess playing friends - I will be happy if they watch it. My friends always had the curiosity of how we do it blind. I want them to see and fall in love with the game which I have loved for 27 years of my life!"

The time control will be 25 minutes + 10 seconds increment. It is going to be a cracker of a match. And to add to the excitement, the organizers have roped in one of India's best commentators to give his expert opinion on the match!

International Master V Saravanan will be the official commentator of the game.

Saravanan is known for his philosophical approach towards the game and always has wonderful anecdotes and analysis to share with the viewers. What is Saravanan's take on the match?
"It's going to be a match of generations between an ambitious and experienced player and an ambitious up comer. But playing blind will be new territory. So we don't know what to expect and that makes it all the more fun to look forward to it. And thank God the commentator won't be blinfolded! :)"

So, Ladies and Gentlemen, I recommend that you finish all your work by 4pm tomorrow (10th Jan 2015) and tune into the official website:  to watch the match between WGM Padmini Rout and Nisha Mohota which will be broadcasted live from 4.15 pm onwards.

Whatever be the result of this game, one thing is certain, the game of chess is going to be the ultimate winner!


  1. Yeah! This event is going to mark its place in the history.

  2. This is really commendable. So amazing!

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