I'm an intermediate-level amateur chess player. How would I go about learning how to accurately play a complete game of chess, blindfolded? What skills are needed, and how are they practiced?

In particular, how can I maintain an accurate representation in my head of the board state over time? Whenever I've tried this, I get a dozen or so moves in, and it all starts to fall apart. Are there specific techniques or representations to help with this?

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    Do lots and lots and lots of chess problems :) Not only is this the fastest way to get better, but as you get to more and more difficult problems, you'll have to keep track of more and more moves in your head. Besides that, play lots of games - after so many hundred games, you get used to knowing where each of the pieces commonly moves to, and what squares it attacks from there, without even having to think about it. – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Oct 26 '12 at 7:19

I think you have to take a closer look at mnemotechnics. Probably Memory Palace technique in particular. You can read about it here, for example.

Here is a discussion about techniques used with Chess games. Mainly about memorizing them. A book called How to develop a perfect memory is suggested reading.

If you know Derren Brown (he's British mentalist, a "mind-reader", if you like), he has done a bit about playing 9 simultaneous chess games with top English players. You can watch it on youtube with explanation on how he did it.

Of course, he only had to remember 8 moves at a time, but it's still pretty tricky not to get confused. If you are interested, you can read Derren's book Tricks of the Mind, it has whole section about Memory.

Best of luck!

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I basically agree with Cyriac, but have one added training twist. That is, I try to read accounts of games without the use of a board. That is a test of one's memory.

Of course, everyone knows how the board looks at the beginning. Say White moves 1. e4, Black e5. That's just a standard king's pawn opening. Say the next moves are 2. Nf3, Nc6. Now you know that you are heading for a Ruy Lopez, or maybe a Guoco Piano or Four Knights' Game. The next move seals it; 3. Bb5 a6. Now it is a Ruy Lopez. Play the game in your head, from the "score" without looking at a board.

One help in most chess books is that there is a diagram every 20 moves or so. Say you are fine up to move 12, and then get lost. Then look at the diagram. You can use it to "look ahead" to the 21st, 22nd, 23rd move, etc. But also, "retrace the moves. What did the board look like at the end of move 19 before the 20th moves were played? How about move 18? Go back to move 17, working back toward the picture you had at move 12. Try to "reconcile the two pictures.

You might work up to move 12, and backward from move 20 to move 15. Then you might need to play out moves 13-14 on a board. But use this only as a stopgap and train your memory and visualization skills.

One way to train yourself to play blind is to (initially) allow yourself a look at various intervals, say move 15, move 25, move 35, etc. Then lengthen the intervals so you can play a game blind.

I have deliberately NOT included diagrams to illustrate the thought process.

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"I get a dozen or so moves in"
Great start! I am another intermediate-level amateur chess player interested in learning blindfold play (because I am told that it can help me in appreciating the role of pawns). My advice is try playing blindfold to weaker players. Don't worry about inaccuracies or complete visualisation now. Practice is most important in learning most of the skills.

And one tip: Play a fixed number(say 12) of moves blindfold, then play a few moves (say 5) in the normal way, then again (say)12 moves blindfold, then (say) 5 normal moves and so on. You will be able to gradually increase the number of moves you play blindfold.

This is good when you start practicing blindfold play (that's where I stand now). When you can play a decent number of moves blindfold, you can stop this and play whole games blindfold. Goodluck.

PS: Having accurate representations of positions in your head is not possible even for blindfold experts. People who studied the skill of blindfold play does not associate it much with visual memory! The book Blindfold chess by Eliot Hearst and John Knott shares truths like this and give useful techniques to develop blindfold skill.

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My experience is that the ability to play blindfold is a function of your chess skill. When I improved at chess, at a certain point I found myself able to play blindfold without ever having previously done any blindfold training. I would imagine that all players rated FIDE 1900 or above can likely play at least one game blindfold.

The best way to get the ability to play blindfold is to just get better at chess.

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    While you're not technically wrong, I'm not sure "just get better at chess" helps with playing blindfolded specifically. – TheThirdMan Aug 20 '17 at 16:20

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