August 16, 2017

‘Blindfold chess king’ will hold exhibition on Monday

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. – Imagine playing multiple games of chess while blindfolded and riding a stationary bicycle. With an amazing memory and a brain studied by neuroscientists at UCLA, chess grandmaster Timur Gareyev does not just play the games – he usually wins.

Gareyev, the “blindfold chess king,” is looking for opponents for a special chess exhibition at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Monday, Aug.21, following the total solar eclipse. Wearing a blindfold and making moves by voice on boards he can’t see, Gareyev will play 10 opponents in a simultaneous blindfolded chess exhibition.

The exhibition will take place in SIU’s Engineering Building A Wing, 1230 Lincoln Drive, in the glass hallway/lobby area near the fourth-floor balcony. The action will start between 2 and 2:30 p.m., allowing participants and spectators time to watch the eclipse. The games are timed so that the event ends no later than 5:30 p.m.

There is no cost to compete and everyone is welcome although pre-registration is required. Only a few spots remain. Signup is available at, by email at or by calling 618/203-0927. Players who earn a win or a draw against Gareyev will receive a gift card.

Guests will be able to join chess legend William Lombardy in viewing the exhibition. Lombardy, who earned the “grandmaster” title in 1960 also won numerous championships, but perhaps is best known as coach of the late Bobby Fischer. Lombardy coached Fischer from age 11 through Fischer winning the World Chess Championship in Iceland in 1972 when he was 29.

Event organizers say SIU’s 10-player simul offers a unique opportunity to meet Lombardy, who turns 80 later this year, while watching Gareyev. In December 2016, Gareyev set the Guinness World Record for most simultaneous blindfold chess wins when he played 48 opponents -- logging 35 wins, seven draws and six losses. He earned “grandmaster” designation in 2004 at the age of 16 and has been ranked as high as third in the United States and within the top 76 in the world.

SIU’s Department of Computer Science and Potentia Analytics are event sponsors while the Southern Illinois Chess Club and Illinois Chess Association are providing chessboards and clocks.