Sept 23 I picked up GM Timur Gareyev at O'Hare airport. My goal: to bring him to Iowa to break the world record for consecutive blindfold games.
I had met GM Gareyev at the US Open in August in Indianapolis, Indiana where he had punked me out on Monday morning. He was wandering around the lobby at 7am. I had just gotten back from my daily constitutional, and he asked me where the Hotel’s restaurant was, as he needed to get some breakfast. He was an awful skinny guy and I thought he needed some food.
He then noticed my shirt with the Weber Elementary Chess Club of Iowa City, Iowa on it, and asked if I coached chess. I answered yes and we started off on a chess discussion. This young man seems very interested in chess I thought. I offered to buy him a US Chess membership and provide him with the tournament entry fees for the Quad.
He looked at me and in a very serious tone said, “Those crooks at US Chess would just be stealing your money!” then went on to say he would just win all the money at the quads and it would not be fair. I thought this young man is pretty full of himself.
“Are you sure?” I asked, “Do you have something against playing rated chess?” At that point another person came up and asked GM Gareyev for a selfie picture… DAWG! I was just swindled as GM Gareyev was pretending to be an average Joe. GM Gareyev was very gracious and came back with me to the breakfast area of our hotel and played my roommates in some blitz chess and talked up many of the delegates to the US Chess meeting.
GM Gareyev then saw that I had a bicycle and asked if it would be ok to borrow it sometime later in the week. I had brought my bicycles for my children and I, as we had planned on taking Tuesday off and going to Bloomington, Indiana and visit friends. He also asked if I would be willing to sponsor him in Iowa to do a Blindfold simul. He quoted me a price which was quite reasonable. I found out he was doing an event in Texas and then traveling North to Duluth MN, to do another event and Iowa City was sort of along the way traveling.
I contacted him later, and we planned on a simul with 12-20 players and I paid his deposit fee. A week later he called me back and said, “how would you like to have me break the world record in consecutive blindfold chess in Iowa?” I said sure, what does that entail? He required an exercise bike, a place to hold the event and a DGT board to broadcast the event. I never used one before so I ordered one and figured I could set it up, and we would be good to go.
GM Gareyev was thrilled with the trip from Chicago across Illinois and Iowa. We were able to stop at the banks of the Mississippi River and contemplate its majesty.
We played in a cornfield and saw the Worlds Largest Truckstop, two things you must see if you visit the Hawkeye state. We unfortunately missed the worlds largest frying pan, but I told GM Gareyev that on his travel north to Duluth he could stop there too.
On September 24th 2016 GM Timur Gareyev played 64 consecutive blindfold games at the Coralville Marriot Hotel. He started at 09:32 Central Standard Time, and finished at 7:45 PM. He played 64 games of chess.
35 games 5+0
15 games 3+0
12 960 games 5+0
1 game 5 d2
1 game 5 i2
Total Score GM Gareyev: Won 54 Lost 8 and Drew 2
Players were represented from 4 states, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas and Missouri.
1432 was the average rating of players (one player was unrated, however, I estimate his strength between 1600-1800) Mr Thomas Metzenthin drew GM Gareyev in Game 62. The range of players were from 243 to 2147 USCF Blitz Rated.
The previous record was held by German FIDE master Marc Lang who on July 16, 2011 played 60 players ending in the wee hours of July 17th 2011.
The start of the event was delayed because of technology issues. The internet broadcast of the event was cancelled. GM Gareyev played while peddling an exercise bicycle and completely blindfolded. USCF Experts Gokul Thangavel (when pronounced in a radio announcers voice sounds like a professional wrestler) Arshaq Saleem and Dan Medrano moved the pieces for GM Gareyev as well as entering the games in Chess Base. GM Gareyev played 12 games of Fisher Random chess and we were unable to record. Senior TD’s and FIDE Arbiters Mark Capron and Eric Golf Vigil officiated the event.
The chess started out with Ana Denison a longtime Timur fan, next her mother Christine. GM Gareyev was cutting through the competition like butter.
Player 13 Owen Fiedorowicz scored the first upset, although in a winning position GM Gareyev ran out of time, this would happen in five of his losses.
Game 37-42 GM Garyev seemed exhausted, he started making mistakes and a number of players scored some victories against him. Eva Harrison who traveled from Chicago scored a win and will be the envy of the Glenwood Chess Club, (you may remember her from p45 of Chess Life Magazine Aug 2016)
GM Gareyev got off the exercise bike and played on the floor for a few games.
What really seemed to turn the tide was the competition of Joseph Wan the 2014 K-6 US Champion. Joseph provided tough competition that fired up GM Gareyev’s spirit. In the seven games they played Joseph won 4, GM Gareyev 2, and 1 draw.
Joseph Wan really fired the crowd up when on his last game he played GM Gareyev blindfolded himself in a game of Fischer 960 random chess with Joseph given a 3 min handicap.
GM Gareyev was re energized either from Joseph Wan's competition or the all natural Tumeric energy powder, GM Gareyev finished strong.
Serendipity struck! As soon as the 64th game was finished a Fireworks show began at the Marriott Hotel! A sign from god that he was pleased with GM Gareyev’s record breaking performance.
During the time GM Gareyev was here in Iowa he taught chess to local chess students who he liked to call his chess warriors. The weather was beautiful. One session near sunset kept going as players thirsty for chess knowledge played past dark by flashlight into the night.
GM Gareyev was also kind enough to play a blindfold Simul at the Iowa Medical Classification Center at Oakdale Iowa. He played 9 inmates and won all 9 games. The prisoners were very excited to play GM Gareyev. They just couldn’t believe how he did it.
I feel blessed to have organized this event and to have spent time with the “Flip Flop wearing, herbal tea drinking, almond eating, bike riding, turmeric sniffing blindfolded chess player!”