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Suppose I played a chess game with 60 minutes on both side. I play blindfolded while my opponent does not. Assuming that my rating is 2000 fide, what rating would my opponent have to be so that the expected score is a draw? Is this dependent on a person's rating? This question might be hard to answer. I am interested to know if anyone has any insight from their experience playing blindfolded.

  • The problem with blindfold chess ( I speak from personal experience ) is to calculate complex lines. You can easily keep the position "in your head", but to calculate "hard lines" is a mess. This depends entirely on your physical fitness. If you are physically fit, then there is practically no difference if you look at the board or not. If you are not physically fit you will play markedly weaker. Therefore, your opponent needs same ELO to draw no matter if you see the board or not, unless your physical fitness hinders your performance, in which case he needs lower ELO... – AlwaysLearningNewStuff Sep 30 '14 at 21:08
  • @AlwaysLearningNewStuff You are saying physical fitness is the only thing that determines a person's ability to calculate lines blindfold? Does that really seem reasonable to you? I could agree that it helps and for some people is a bigger factor, but really? You don't think with physical fitness at it's highest, that some people would still struggle to calculate lines in their head the same way they do with a board in front of them? – wired_in Oct 1 '14 at 16:42
  • You don't think with physical fitness at it's highest, that some people would still struggle to calculate lines in their head the same way they do with a board in front of them? That is the problem of their tactical skill, it has nothing to do with blindfold / regular play. Yesterday I have played online blitz against renowned GM and he destroyed me. I could have played against him blindfold, I would have "seen" all his moves, and would "play" the same and still he would destroy me, because his skill is greater than mine. Gazing in the board doesn't help there, I just have to get stronger... – AlwaysLearningNewStuff Oct 1 '14 at 19:27
  • @AlwaysLearningNewStuff You are making a generalization based on how this applies to you. You are the minority in this case, because I'm willing to bet anything that having a board in front of you helps 99% of players with their tactical sight, regardless of physical fitness. Physical fitness is just one of many factors that may help you focus better. – wired_in Oct 1 '14 at 21:26
  • @wired_in: I don't understand you at all... Your knowledge of chess has nothing to do if you look at the board or not. Either you know how to sacrifice or not, either you know how to mate with rook or not. Doing calculation for tactics requires of you to imagine the board after every predicted move which is the same as blindfold. Good example for this is Bobby Fisher. I can't explain in detail here because comments accept limited amount of characters. I believe we should continue this on chat in order not to derail the thread... If interested leave a comment... – AlwaysLearningNewStuff Oct 2 '14 at 0:09
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I think it is ridiculous to assume that someone's normal rating would in any way be indicative of their blindfold rating. Your understanding of chess and ability to play with the chess pieces in front of you has little to do with your ability to hold all of the information in your head.

The only assumptions you can make are:

A) a person isn't going to be better at blindfold chess than they are at regular chess

B) someone with a higher rating in regular chess is more likely to be better at blindfold chess than a lower rated player.

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    A) what if all the pieces look strange (f.e. knight that looks like a bishop and queen that looks like a pawn) ?! Just kidding ^^ B) agreed! That's because games of better players are played mostly in their heads anyways – Pijotrek Sep 30 '14 at 18:51
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    "I think it is ridiculous to assume that someone's normal rating would in any way be indicative of their blindfold rating" "someone with a higher rating in regular chess is more likely to be better at blindfold chess than a lower rated player" I don't understand what you're trying to say there. – JiK Oct 1 '14 at 14:22
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    @JiK I'm trying to say someone's blindfold rating is not directly proportional to their regular rating (blindfold rating is not a function of regular rating). You can't take a regular rating and then determine someone's blindfold strength based solely on that. The only assumption you can make is that a higher rated player is more likely to be better at blindfold chess than a lower rated player. – wired_in Oct 1 '14 at 16:16
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    @JiK Put a different way, someone's regular chess rating in no way determines their blindfold rating. But, if you have two chess players that have different regular ratings, and you have nothing else to go on, you would assume the higher rated player is more likely to be better at blindfold chess than the lower rated player. – wired_in Oct 1 '14 at 16:31
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My suspicion is that your blind strength increases in some relation to your sighted strength as well as your experience with blindfolded play, but I very much doubt that there's a specific (or even vague) formula. For instance, this article (actually a review of Blindfold Chess by Eliot Hearst and John Knott) mentions that "Some of the strongest blindfold chess masters claim that the strength of their blindfold play is similar to that of their sighted play."

Answering this question "definitively" would likely require a dedicated study on the topic (an idea also mentioned in that review), pitting players of varying strengths against one another multiple times, alternately blindfolded and not, and comparing all the results. It would be a very interesting study, I think!

  • I will try this experiment out. There is a setting on chess.com where you can remove the pieces. I will see what my standard rating will be using this, though it will be slightly inaccurate since seeing the board helps me. – CognisMantis Sep 29 '14 at 23:33
  • In FICS, one can request a separate account for blindfold chess and play against the same players as you do with your normal account. Comparing the ratings of people's normal and blindfold accounts could give something, but not very much because the number of blindfold players there is very small. – JiK Sep 30 '14 at 9:02
  • I heard it being said (and it also matches my experience) that you play around 300-400 Elo points weaker when blindfolded. Of course there may be big differences between players, but I think this is a good initial estimate if you want to set up a match between a blindfolded and a not blindfolded player. – BlindKungFuMaster Jan 12 '15 at 14:59

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