Eliot Hearst and John Knott blog about blindfold chess
Sunday, April 26, 2009

Near Miss of Setting Canadian Simultaneous Blindfold Record

Even though the world record for number of simultaneous blindfold games was achieved by Miguel Najdorf in 1947 when he played 45 opponents at once, in the past 50 years there have been fewer than ten players who have played 20 or more such games and no one (except for Flesch’s dubious exhibition in 1960: see pp. 99-110 of our book) has played more than 28. Although displays of 10-12 boards have been fairly common in recent years, chessmasters have turned to more regular forms of chess to make a reasonable living, rather than working as hard as is necessary to take on 30 or more opponents at once without sight of the board. From around 1850-1940 you were often not considered a major target for money-making displays unless you could give simultaneous blindfold exhibitions. Now the proliferation of weekend tourneys with large prizes, internet chess, chess writing and teaching, and one-on-one blindfold tourneys have taken central stage for chess professionals. However, recently there has been an increased interest in blindfold chess as an educational device and small blindfold displays and tournaments are becoming more and more popular, as our book relates.

Hans JungOne of the players who falls into the select group of those who have played more than 20 opponents without sight of the boards in the past half-century, and the last one to accomplish that feat, is Hans Jung (left) of Ontario, Canada. He is now a FIDE Master (FM) and has been the official chess coordinator for the city of Kitchener since 2002 (is there any other city, in North America or elsewhere, that has established such an appointment?)

Canada is one country that has continued to maintain a strong interest in blindfold chess. But one big, rather sad story involves Jung’s attempt to set the Canadian record for total number of simultaneous blindfold opponents (see p.124 of our book for even more information). By playing 26 at once in 1993, he attempted to beat what he thought was the Canadian record of 25 games, set by Leo Williams in 1982. To his great surprise Jung soon afterwards discovered that Williams had exceeded his own record by playing 27 opponents in 1986.

So a few weeks after his 26-board display Jung arranged a 30-board display at a different mall in London, Ontario. Two hours after that exhibition began, a punk rock band began blasting out music for a CD promotion release at a nearby record store. Since very noisy surroundings make blindfold displays almost impossible to give, for the exhibitor as well as the players, it had to be stopped. Jung never again had the chance to surpass his 26-board performance and to exceed Williams’s 27. What a near-miss!

During his chess career Jung has given more than 100 blindfold exhibitions of at least 10 boards. Not many players in the history of blindfold chess can come close to that achievement. For our book we could not locate any of his game scores to publish, but at our request Jung recently supplied a few.

The following three games are dear to Jung’s heart, because they were played in his first display of more than 10 boards and also commemorated the reopening of the London, Ontario City Chess Club in his home town in 1984. He played 12 games at once and scored 10 wins, two draws, and no losses against opposition that included two experts, five Class A players, and 5 Class B players — quite strong opposition. He averaged just over 30 seconds per move, very fast for a blindfold player.

The games are not very complicated, but it seems clear that Jung made no real errors in any of them. Can readers spot any definite mistakes that I missed?

H. Jung - K. Elieff
12-Board Blindfold Simultaneous, London, Ontario, February 18, 1984
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bg5 c5 5.Bxf6 gxf6 6.e3 cxd4 7.exd4 dxc4 8.Bxc4 Rg8 9.g3 Nc6 10.d5 Ne5 11.Bb5+ Bd7 12.dxe6 fxe6 13.Qh5+ Rg6 14.Rd1 Qe7 15.Bxd7+ Nxd7 16.Nge2 0–0–0 17.Qa5 Qc5 18.Qxc5+ Bxc5 19.Nf4 Rgg8 20.0–0 Rge8 21.Ne4 f5 22.Ng5 Re7 23.Ngxe6 Rde8 24.Rxd7 Bxf2+ 25.Rxf2 Kxd7 26.Nd4 Re5 27.Rd2 Kc7 28.a4 a6 29.Nf3 Ra5 30.Nd5+ Kb8 31.b3 Rd8 32.Nf6 Rxd2 33.Nxd2 h6 34.Nc4 1–0

H. Jung - B. Harrington
12-Board Blindfold Simultaneous, London, Ontario, February 18, 1984
1.Nf3 c5 2.e4 Nc6 3.c3 Qc7 4.d4 e6 5.d5 Nd8 6.c4 Bd6 7.Nc3 Ne7 8.Nb5 Qb8 9.e5 Bxe5 10.d6 Nec6 11.Nc7+ Kf8 12.Nxe5 Nxe5 13.Qh5 Ndc6 14.Bg5 b6 15.Be7+ Kg8 16.Ne8 Bb7 17.Nc7 Nxe7 18.Qxe5 f6 19.Qc3 Nf5 20.Nxa8 Qxa8 21.Bd3 Bxg2 22.Rg1 Nxd6 23.0–0–0 Qf3 24.Qd2 Nf7 25.Be2 Qxf2 26.Qxd7 Qe3+ 27.Kb1 Be4+ 28.Ka1 g6 29.Qxe6 Kg7 30.Bd3 f5 31.Rge1 Qf3 32.Bxe4 fxe4 33.Rf1 Rd8 34.Qxf7+ Qxf7 35.Rxf7+ Kxf7 36.Rxd8 1–0

H. Jung - G. Redhead
12-Board Blindfold Simultaneous, London, Ontario, February 18, 1984
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Bg5 Ne4 6.cxd5 Nxc3 7.bxc3 Qxd5 8.Qb3 Be6 9.Qxd5 Bxd5 10.e3 c5 11.Bb5+ Nc6 12.0–0 a6 13.Ba4 b5 14.Bb3 c4 15.Bc2 f5 16.Nd2 e5 17.e4 fxe4 18.Nxe4 0–0 19.dxe5 Bxe5 20.Rad1 Be6 21.f4 Bc7 22.Nf6+ Kg7 23.Be4 Rac8 24.Bxc6 Bb6+ 25.Kh1 Rxc6 26.Nd7 Bxd7 27.Rxd7+ Rf7 28.Rfd1 Rc8 29.Bh6+ Kg8 30.R7d6 Ba5 31.g4 Re7 32.f5 gxf5 33.gxf5 Bxc3 34.Rg1+ Kf7 35.Bg5 Re1 36.Rd7+ Kf8 37.Rxe1 Bxe1 38.f6 Bc3 39.Rxh7 Rc6 40.Bh6+ Kg8 41.f7+ Kxh7 42.f8Q Rxh6 43.Qf7+ Kh8 44.Qf8+ Kh7 45.Qf7+ Kh8 46.Qf8+ Kh7 1/2–1/2

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