Inside the psyche of “the mens” who would be ‘Blindfold King’ of chess

Next month, Timur Gareyev will play virtually 50 opposings at once – blindfolded. Can neuroscientists reveal how he play-act such prodigious mental accomplishments?

Even by macrocosm record criteria, it gives a high bar for human achievement. Next month in Las Vegas a chess player appointed Timur Gareyev plans to take on virtually 50 opposings at once. But “thats really not” the hard part. While his challengers will play video games as ordinary, Gareyev himself will be blindfolded.

The 28 -year-old already stands out in the rarefied macrocosm of blindfold chess. He has a fondness for bright invests, a haircut that morphs from mane to mohican, and he gets his kickings from Base climbing. He has proved himself a contender, very. In a 10 -hour chess marathon in 2013, Gareyev played 33 competitions in his head simultaneously. He won 29 and lost none. The knowledge has become his label: he calls himself the Blindfold King.

But Gareyevs prowess has gleaned interest from beyond the chess-playing parish. In the expectations of understanding how he and others like him can perform such mental accomplishments, researchers at the University of California in Los Angeles called him in for reminiscence testing and brain scans. They now have their first results.

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Standard reminiscence research proved nothing extraordinary. Nonetheless, brain scans suggest that Gareyevs visual network is more highly are attached to other brain parts than usual Photograph: Jesse Rissman

The ability to play a game of chess with your eyes shut is not a far reach for most attained musicians, suggested Jesse Rissman, who runs a reminiscence lab at UCLA. But the thing thats so remarkable about Timur and a few other souls is the amount of competitions they can maintain active at once. To me it is simply astonishing.

Gareyev learned to play chess in Tashkent when he was six years old. Tutored by his grandpa, he entered his first tournament aged eight and soon became obsessed with rivalries. At 16, he was crowned Asias youngest ever chess grandmaster. He moved to the US soon after, where his obsession switched to poker, but as a student he still helped the University of Texas in Brownsville acquire its first national chess championship. In 2013, Gareyev was graded the third largest best chess player in the US.

To the uninitiated, blindfold chess seems to call for superhuman knowledge. But presentations of the feat, also known as sans voir , go back centuries. The first recorded competition in Europe played out in 13 th-century Florence. In 1947, the Argentinian grandmaster Miguel Najdorf played 45 simultaneous competitions in his thinker. He won 39 periods in the 24 -hour session and was apparently unable to sleep for three days afterwards. For the Blindfold Kings treetop to sit more comfortably, he must beat the record 46 competitions played at once by the German Marc Lang in 2011.

Accomplished musicians can discover to play dazzle even without realising it. The nature of video games is to run through possible moves in the mind to be acknowledged that they play out. From this, regular musicians develop a reminiscence for the patterns the segments prepare, the defence forces and criticizes. You recreate it in your thinker, suggested Gareyev. A slew of musicians are capable of doing what Im doing.

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The searches also encountered much greater than average the contacts between parts of Gareyevs brain that make up what is called the frontoparietal controller system – used in almost every complex task Photograph: Jesse Rissman

The real mental objection comes from playing multiple competitions at once in the manager. Not exclusively must the positions of each piece on every board be memorised, they must be recalled faithfully when needed, revised with each musicians moves, and then reliably accumulated again, so the psyche can move on to the next board. Gareyev said that to recollect each board, he must be focused and deliberate. If I skip from one board to another too quickly, when I come back to it, its not perfect and at times Ill mess up. First moves can be tough to remember because they are often so humdrum: a pawn in front of the emperor or queen advances two squares. But the end competitions are charging very, as tired sets in. When Gareyev is tired, his recall are able to obtain patchy. He sometimes acquires moves based on exclusively a fragmented reminiscence of the segments positions.

To train for the record assault, Gareyev has been on a chess tour that improves in a hefty schedule of activity and yoga backed up with healthy feeing. Next week, he will play ten competitions blindfolded at the Society for Neuroscience meet in San Diego. At the same meeting, Rissmans team will unveil the most recent results from their research on the player.

The scientists first had Gareyev act some standard reminiscence research. These assessed his ability to hold digits, drawings and terms in thinker. One classic experiment amounts how many digits a person can reiterate, both sends and backwards, soon after hearing them. Most parties control about seven. He was not extraordinary on any of these standard research, suggested Rissman. We didnt find anything other than playing chess that he seems to be supremely offering at.

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The quality of the haloes signify different functional systems of the psyche, and the blue fronts demo the strongest joinings in Gareyevs brain at rest. Photo: Jesse Rissman

But next came the brain scans. With Gareyev lying down in the machine, Rissman looked at how well connected the various regions of the chess musicians psyche were. Though tentative and as yet unpublished, the searches ascertained much greater than average the contacts between parts of Gareyevs brain that make up what is called the frontoparietal controller system. Of 63 parties checked alongside the chess player, exclusively one or two tallied more highly on the relevant measures. You use this network in almost any complex duty. It helps you to allocate notice, maintain governs in thinker, and work up whether you should be answering or not, suggested Rissman.

It was not the only indicated of something special in Gareyevs brain. The searches also suggest that Gareyevs visual network is more highly are attached to other brain parts than usual. If reaffirmed in further job, the areas of his brain that process visual images – such as chess timbers – may have stronger links to other brain regions, and so be more powerful than ordinary. While the analysis are not finalised hitherto, they may impound the first clues to Gareyevs extraordinary ability.

For the world record attempt, a blindfolded Gareyev hopes to play 47 competitions at once in about 16 hours. He will need to acquire 80% to claim the title. I dont worry too much about the prize percentage, thats never been an issue for me, he suggested. The most important part of blindfold chess for me is that I have found the one thing that I can fully dedicate myself to. I miss having an obsession.

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