Chess: Playing blindfold with real vision

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The Independent Culture
The Melody Amber tournament in Monaco is the oddest event in the world chess calendar. Named after the one-year- old daughter of the sponsor, it features twelve of the world's top players competing for a dollars 100,000 prize fund. Each plays two quick-play games against each of the others, but in one of the games neither player has sight of the pieces. They indicate their moves by blipping the relevant squares on a computer chessboard.

As might have been expected, some of the blindfold games have produced glaring oversights (or perhaps 'undersight' is the right term) and even illegal moves. The best of them, however, support the view that chess pieces are only a mental labour-saving device. Vassily Ivanchuk, who leads the tournament after the first three rounds, showed in his game against Judit Polgar how clear-sightedly one can play blindfold chess.

His first neat idea is 10 . . . Bg4, luring the white queen to g3 when she can be molested with Nh5, which kicks her back to f3, ready for attack from the rook on f8.

16. Ne3? allowed a neat combination. After Black's Nxg2] White's queen is attacked and 17. Qxg2 Rg5 kills her. As the game went White cut her losses to a pawn, but her king was left in a draft.

The brilliant finish began with 22 . . . Be4] After 23. f3 Rxf3] White had to reject 24. Bxf3 because of Bxf3 mate, and 24. bxc5 because of Re3] threatening both Rxe1 mate and Qxg2 mate. When White finally captured the knight with 25. bxc5, she must have hoped to struggle on with 25 . . . Re3 26. Bxe3 (26. Qxg4 allows Re1 mate) Qxe2 27. Bxe4 Qxe3 28. Bd5+, but Ivanchuk's 25 . . . Rf7] ended her resistance. 26. Qxg4 is met by Rf1 mate, while anything else either loses the queen or allows mate.

White: Polgar

Black: Ivanchuk

1 e4 e5 14 Nc4 f5 2 Nf3 Nf6 15 exf5 Rxf5 3 Nc3 Bb4 16 Ne3 Nxg2 4 Bc4 Bxc3 17 Nxf5 Nxe1 5 dxc3 d6 18 Qe2 Bxf5 6 0-0 Nbd7 19 Qxe1 Qf6 7 Re1 0-0 20 Bg2 Qg6 8 a4 Nc5 21 Kh1 Rf8 9 Nd2 a5 22 b4 Be4 10 Qf3 Bg4 23 f3 Rxf3 11 Qg3 Be6 24 Qe2 Qg4 12 Bf1 Nh5 25 bxc5 Rf7 13 Qf3 Nf4 White resigns