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JAMA 100 Years Ago
October 20, 2004


JAMA. 2004;292(15):1900. doi:10.1001/jama.292.15.1900

While the average chess player makes his moves with comparatively little foresight, in the high science of chess, as played by experts, each move for several moves ahead on both sides, including all the contingencies, is carefully thought out. Success depends on the perfection with which this is done, and the method is illustrated to some extent in a recent article in Everybody’s Magazine , where the performances of the champion chess player, Pillsbury, in so-called blindfold chess, are discussed. Blindfold chess playing is playing without seeing the board, and requires an exercise of visual memory that is almost inconceivable. Pillsbury, it is said, has thus played sixteen simultaneous games with expert players, winning twelve, drawing three and losing only one. He was compelled to remember the position of each of thirty-two chessmen on each of the sixteen boards. The enormity of the mental task may be suggested by the fact that on one board alone many thousands of different culminations are possible as the result of the first three or four moves. Pillsbury, of course, has a certain system and is permitted to choose his own openings, but this does very little to diminish the astounding character of the performance.

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