Timur Gareyev Breaks World Consecutive Blindfold Chess Record

On September 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.
Blindfold king GM Timur Gareyev in actionBlindfold king GM Timur Gareyev in action
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 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 would just be stealing your money!” Then, he went on to say that 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 me, 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, Minnesota 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 had never used one before, so I ordered one and figured I could set it up, and we would be good to go.
On the banks of the MississippiOn the banks of the Mississippi
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 World's Largest Truckstop, two things you must see if you visit the Hawkeye state.  We, unfortunately, missed the world’s largest frying pan, but I told GM Gareyev that on his travel north to Duluth he could stop there too. 4-timur-gareyevOn September 24th, 2016, GM Timur Gareyev played 64 consecutive blindfold games at the Coralville Marriot Hotel.  He started at 9:32 AM Central Standard Time, and finished at 7:45 PM.  He played 64 games of chess.   Time controls: Standard Blitz: 35 games   3 minutes: 15 games   960 Blitz: 12 games 5 minutes with a 2 second delay: 1 game 5 minutes with a 2 second increment: 1 game  Total Score: GM Gareyev Won 54,  Lost 8, and Drew 2 Players were represented from 4 states, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas and Missouri. The average rating of the players was 1432 (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 announcer’s voice sounds like a professional wrestler), Arshaq Saleem, and Dan Medrano moved the pieces for GM Gareyev as well as entering the games in ChessBase.  GM Gareyev played 12 games of Fischer Random that 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.   During games 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 page 45 of Chess Life Magazine, August 2016).
Eva Harrison and Timur GareyevEva Harrison and Timur Gareyev
GM Gareyev got off the exercise bike and played on the floor for a few games.
Grandmaster Gareyev takes a kind of restGrandmaster Gareyev takes a kind of rest
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 won 2, and there was 1 draw.  Joseph Wan really fired up the crowd when, in his last game, he played GM Gareyev blindfolded himself in a game of Fischer 960 random chess with Joseph given a 3 minute handicap.  
Joseph Wan and Timur GareyevJoseph Wan and Timur Gareyev
GM Gareyev was re-energized. Either from Joseph Wans 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.
Timur Gareyev enjoys fireworksTimur Gareyev enjoys fireworks
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.
Chess 24/7Chess 24/7
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 every game. The prisoners were very excited to play GM Gareyev.  They just couldn’t believe how he did it.
Timur Gareyev and Eric VigilTimur Gareyev and Eric Vigil
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, tumeric sniffing blindfolded chess player!” *Original article published at Chessbase.com