I have often wondered, how would it be if the rules were different and you could calculate on a "non-blindfold" board during slow games.

For example, you could picture each player in the world championship having a chess set in the small lounge they have during the game.

Is it known whether GMs' accuracy would improve, or their confidence too, in that case?

4 Answers 4


Is it known whether GMs' accuracy would improve?

It depends on the GM. Peter Svidler, for instance, has said that he sometimes shuts his eyes or looks away from the board during long calculations because the board in front of him with the current position is a distraction from the board in his head which has the calculated position.

Most of the rest of the chess world would benefit enourmously from being able to use a separate board where they can move the pieces. That is why 11.3.1 of the FIDE Laws of Chess specifically bans doing that:

11.3.1 During play the players are forbidden to use any notes, sources of information or advice, or analyse any game on another chessboard.

  • re 'That is why' If it were really helpful just because it's prohibited, then why can't we argue that Wesley So's 'writing notes' could really be helpful? I looked up the rationale for this. It's not about being helpful. I posted an answer.
    – BCLC
    Commented Mar 29 at 18:22

Yes, it will. If you're allowed to move the pieces, you can calculate further and make fewer mistakes. There's a reason why playing blindfold is a handicap.


  • I remember once reading about some position where the key move at the end of a variation 12 moves deep wins White the game. With the board in front of you it's easy to see, but at a 12-move "distance" it isn't, especially since it's a long retreating move.
  • Here's a quote by GM Larry Kaufmann about playing against Komodo with something that suggests the same:

Q: Author Cyrus Lakdawala suggested I ask: In what respect are the program's move choices human?

A: All the features of the engines' evaluation function have been based on how some human (in the case of Komodo, me) thinks they should be defined. The weights were originally my subjective ones, but gradually got "tuned" by testing and automated methods. So in theory, if the search depth were the same as mine (which of course is variable so this is unrealistic) it should play somewhat like I do, although I don't add up hundreds of numbers in my head when I play, I just estimate everything. The main reason Komodo is a thousand or more Elo stronger than I am is that it searches so much further ahead in nearly every line than I could possibly do. Perhaps if I spent 24 hours per move on a game (moving pieces around freely, but not consulting any engine) I could play as well as Komodo plays a blitz game, but that's just a guess. Note that this does not apply to NN engines, which (in pure form) don't have any human knowledge input.


Of course it will, and I think it will for all players, just by different amounts.

I read Brian Towers's answer. I had noticed the same thing in videos by Danya Naroditsky: When calculations get intense, it covers his eyes or looks away. That amazes me. And I've heard super GMs calculate and they hold the position in their head amazingly well (some better than others, of course. Fisher, Anand, and Kasparov are especially renowned for this).

But even for them, I am sure having an analysis board will help. Why am I sure? Because all these players use analysis boards when they are analyzing at home. It's true that good players can read chess books without a board much better then lower rated people, but even they do better when they have a board.

Also, I have heard some commentary about correspondence chess between top players that indicates that they get much farther along in variations then they do OTB.


I don't think scratch boards actually help that much for calculating for superGMs.

Or at least I disagree that that's the reason why they're banned in OTB games. I believe this is just to limit the number things that players bring to the playing area for security measures and to reduce distractions. If it were really helpful just because it's prohibited, then we could argue that Wesley So's 'writing notes' could really be helpful. You can look up the rationale for the 'writing notes' thing. It's not definitely not about being helpful.

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