Chess students take on blindfolded grandmaster in group competition

Grandmaster Timur Gareev will be trying to break a world record soon by playing the largest number of simultaneous chess games ever while blindfolded — and 10 students from HISD schools recently helped him prepare for that challenge.

The Uzbekistan native, who became the youngest grandmaster ever from Asia in 2004 at the age of 16, played 10 of HISD’s top chess players on Sept. 19, and defeated them all (along with three students from a local private school) within the span of a few hours, despite not being able to see any of the chessboards.

“Chess is one of the most complicated, yet simple, games in the world to play or master,” said Gareev. “Yet few attempt, and far less conquer, the art of playing without a chessboard or pieces.”

Coach Robert Myers, who coordinated the event for students from McReynolds Middle, Leland College Preparatory Academy, and Furr and Chávez high schools, said that while Gareev is known for his skill in blindfolded chess competitions, that doesn’t make the feat any less impressive.

“Imagine playing tic-tac-toe with someone over the phone,” said Myers, “and trying to remember where all the exes and ohs are. That’s just nine squares against one opponent, and it’s over in just a handful of moves. Now imagine trying to keep track of 13 different opponents and 13 different boards, each with 64 squares and 32 pieces. That’s what Gareev was doing.”

“It was such an honor to play someone as skilled as him,” added junior Aaron Lazo, who serves as the chess team captain at Furr High School. “I know it took him a long time to get there, and I hope that one day, I can be as talented.”

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