Photo by Jason Wheeler.
Prescott Valley resident Jim Schubert said he started playing chess around the time he was in ninth grade and joined the United States Chess Federation in the 1970s, playing in tournaments wherever he lived.
In December of 2016, he was at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, playing with a friend against chess grand master Timur Gareyev, who was looking to set the world record for blindfolded chess, Schubert said, noting the previous record was winning 80 percent of 45 boards. Gareyev played 48 boards, winning 35, drawing seven and losing six.
Schubert’s match ended in a draw.
If a chess player is rated 2,500, they are considered a grand master and if they are rated 2,000, they are rated a master and what follows is Class A, Class B and Class C, Schubert said, stating he’s a Class C player.
Others at the tournament were rated from 2,000 and down, he said. Since he played a two-on-one game with a friend, it made it harder, Schubert said.
“We made every other move, but we really couldn’t talk to each other,” he said. “We had a strategy ahead of time that we agreed upon and it seemed to work.”
Gareyev beat the higher-rated people in 15 to 20 moves and since he’s written books and shot DVDs on chess strategy, he’s seen it all, Schubert said. Rated 2,500 and playing blindfolded, Gareyev has a system where he memorizes every board and is able to win because his opponents play predictable chess, he said. Further, the simpler the boards get the easier Gareyev’s time is and as such, Schubert and his teammate’s strategy was playing an unorthodox opening without exchanging pieces, Schubert said.
The idea behind the strategy was to clog the board up so Gareyev had to keep memorizing the entire board and all 64 pieces for as long as possible, Schubert said.
“We played the Polish Opening. It’s a closed opening, it’s not seen very often,” Schubert said. “It’s considered by many chess experts as weak because you’re giving up the center.”
The game started at 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning and was still going by 3 a.m. Sunday morning, he said, mentioning their board was one of the final 10.
This was actually the second time he faced off against Gareyev, Schubert said, recalling a time playing against him in Kansas. Schubert lasted 34 before defeat, he said.
When it comes to playing chess, winning or losing has nothing to do with him or his ego, Schubert said, commenting on the ego of many chess players. Rather, the game is against the board instead of the person, he said.
“Instead of protect my own ego, it becomes fun. I create situations to solve … and that’s what’s fun about chess,” Schubert said. “Playing a traditional game, it can be fun, but you get involved with playing higher-risk chess, the game becomes more fun, especially if you don’t care if you lose.”
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