The Mercury



The South African blindfold record of ten games is held by the legendary English master Joseph Blackburne (affectiona­tely known as the Black Death), who stopped off briefly in Port Elizabeth during the 1880’s whilst on his way to Australia. In more recent times Michael O’Sullivan and John Fienieg given exhibition­s close to this number, but more recently another very strong visitor in the guise of super GM, Wesley So, scored 9,5/10 during his tour here. Surely if he was aware of Blackburne’s record he would have comfortabl­y broken it….

According to chess historian Leonard Reitstein one of the best blindfold exhibition­s recorded in South Africa took place in Pretoria in August 1907 when A.J.A. Cameron defeated all six of his opponents. Here is one of the games

A.J.A. Cameron [C26] Blindfold ,1907

1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bc4 c6 4.d3 h6 5.f4 Qa5 6.fxe5 Qxe5 7.Nf3 Qa5 8.0-0 d5 9.exd5 cxd5 10.Bb5+ Nc6 11.Ne5 Qb6+ 12.d4 Bb4 13.Rxf6 gxf6 13...Bxc3 was better 14.Nxd5 Qa5 15.Bxc6+ bxc6 16.Nxf6+ Kf8 17.Qh5 Be6 18.Bxh6+ Ke7 19.Nxc6+ 1-0

Cameron also played six games blindfold against players of the S.A. College in Cape Town in 1916. A century later the American based grandmaste­r, Timur Gareev, broke the world blindfold simultaneo­us record at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. Gareyev played against 48 opponents at the same time, more than any player before and scored 35 wins, 7 draws, and 6 losses after almost 20 hours play. In 1947 Miguel Najdorf set a record of 45 games that stood for 64 years when it was finally bettered by a German master, Mark Lang, who played 46 players in 2011.


There is a moment in chess when your do nothing to save himself. All moves lose. It is not checkmate. It is before checkmate. Everything he can do is wrong. There are no good moves. All moves lose. It is a very terrible spot to be in, but it is fun to watch him squirm. He stares at the board, but it does not change. Nothing can be changed and there is no hope. He is a mouse and I am the cat. I watch him very closely as he suffers. When the game is over, I will feel sympathy for him, but not now. Now I watch him twist and turn and tear himself to ribbons. His agonies are mine. – Richard Laurie (spoken by the fictional Alekhine in Laurie’s play “Knight of the Id” about Alekhine’s last days)

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