FORT COLLINS, Colo. (KDVR) — The game of chess requires an incredible amount of concentration and focus. Only the best in the world can play multiple games at once.
Even fewer can do what Timur Gareyev did at a Fort Collins church on Friday, taking on 55 kids simultaneously.
“As the game progresses, it becomes more firm,” he said of his memory. “The images become more and more firm.”
Brad Lundstrom is the president of the Colorado Chess Association and a friend of Gareyev. When he found out the grandmaster would be in town this weekend, he invited him to speak at the Chessmates camp, where he’s a coach.
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Gareyev entered the gymnasium to applause from the campers. Lundstrom said that in the chess world, it’s like Michael Jordan walking into the room.
“Oh my gosh, it’s so nerve-wracking.” said one camper named Sophia. “It’s really scary, but it’s also really fun to be playing a grandmaster.”
Gareyev holds the Guinness World Record for playing the most chess games at once — while blindfolded — after taking on 48 people at a tournament in Las Vegas six years ago. He says he’s able to memorize each board as he moves throughout the room, planning potential moves in advance as he goes.
“The first moves, they’re not very memorable, because there’s not so much shape and form,” he said. “But as the game progresses, it becomes more and more meaningful to the chess mind, and then it’s just a matter of technique.”
Within an hour, Gareyev was announcing “checkmate” while knocking off campers one by one. He ended each game the same, with a smile, a handshake and a “good game.”