How do most people play blindfolded chess? Is it akin to a live video feed in their mind where they can see all of the pieces, or do they just remember what moves have been made so far and go from there?

  • This isn't an answer to your question as I have no idea how its done but your question did remind of something: GM Timur Gareyev Breaks World Consecutive Blindfold Chess Record On September 24th 2016 GM Timur Gareyev played 64 consecutive blindfold games at the Coralville Marriott Hotel. He started at 09:32 Central Standard Time, and finished at 7:45 PM. He played 64 games of chess. Total Score: GM Gareyev: Won 54 Lost 8 and Drew 2
    – user34445
    Dec 28, 2016 at 0:26
  • I'm also thinking for simul bld chess a variation of method of loci is required as remembering multiple chess boards aren't easy, I doubt one can keep several chess boards memorised at the same time. P.S. Something similar would be solving multiple rubiks cubes blindfolded or memorising decks of cards, method of loci is also used mostly.
    – Ariana
    Jan 1, 2017 at 13:27

4 Answers 4


You certainly do not remember all the moves made.

Instead you remember the position on the board. In chess you have certain typical structures, so you don't really need to remember each and every piece's position. Instead you can for instance store the information: fianchettoed bishop to mean the very typical position of pawns on f2,g3,h2 bishop on g2 and knight on f3. Similarly you could store certain typical pawn chains. For instance in the French defence you could have white pawns on b2,c3, d4,e5 and black pawns opposing them on f7, e6, d5, c5, again you'd just store something like "closed French" .

Any player of reasonable strength is doing this automatically and subconsciously when doing calculations at regular chess as well.

  • 3
    Well, usually you also remember all the moves made. You just don't use that information to reconstruct the board position, except if something goes wrong. Dec 28, 2016 at 10:38
  • 1
    OK, that's what I meant. You remember the moves subconsciously and could replay the game afterwards just as in a regular chess game. But you don't use this information during the game. Dec 28, 2016 at 16:50

There have been studies conducted on this (by de Groot and later Herbert & Simon) where they showed both masters and novices chess board layouts for a few seconds and then asked them to reconstruct the layouts from memory. Some of the layouts were real chess positions and some of them had pieces randomly placed, sometimes in illegal positions. The masters were vastly better than the novices at recalling the real positions, but virtually no better at recalling the random layouts. This demonstrated that masters perceive a position based on the familiar chess elements of it - pawn structures, tension between pieces which can capture each other and so on.

Here's a video of GM Patrick Wolff being given the test and talking afterwards about how he was able to recall the real positions.


When I play blindfolded, I don't see a sharp image of a board in my head, but I can see sections of the board at a time and I remember the placement of the pieces and their influence.


Most people imagine the position in their mind. When you get better at chess, you get better at imagining it in your head. Remembering all the moves is technically possible, but imagining it is usually the easier option if you're not in an opening you've studied relentlessly and you're 100% certain. I know it can feel like you'll never be able to develop this skill, but I thought the same way as well for a while and now I can go up to 40 moves while keeping the exact same quality of play as normal. Good luck!

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