All posts by Laurens Goormachtigh

Blindfold King Timur Gareyev playing … Mordorski Chess!

You might have heard of boxing chess, underwater chessice water chess and even extreme amazing super chess. But there is one type of chess however, you probably will not have heard of. Blindfold King Timur Gareyev, on his quest to reaching the highest point of New Zealand’s North Island, came to the discovery of… Mordorski Chess!

Blindfold King Timur Gareyev enjoying the Dawson falls in Egmont National Park Taranaki

Living chess legend

Blindfold King Timur Gareyev doesn’t really need any introduction. Setting a Guinness world record by playing 48 chess games simultaneously and blindfolded and demonstrating that the sky truly is the limit, Timur proves to be an inspiration to all chess players around the world.

After meeting him at the New Zealand Chess Championship in Auckland, Timur came across to me as a very friendly, humble and accessible person. Besides blindfold chess, skydiving, yoga and any possible combination of the above, Timur also has a great passion for travelling. With a passport full of stamps from countries in all corners of the planet, Timur was now ready to experience the unique beauty of New Zealand, land of stunning sunny beaches, scenic alpine landscapes and enchanting movie sets. However, what might have come to a surprise is that, in the midst of all this natural beauty, New Zealand is also home to … MORDOR!


Armed with sunscreen, chocolate, nuts, cucumbers and – of course – a chess set, we’re ready for a sunny hike in Tongariro National Park. Rising above the clouds to witness the beautiful, mystical crater lake on top of the volcanic Mount Ruapehu, the highest point of New Zealand’s North Island, was the goal of the day. The reality however, couldn’t be farther away from this promised paradise: dark clouds, stormy showers, walloping gusts of winds were all over the place. We could almost smell the scent of Orks creeping in behind every corner. Welcome to Mordor!

Timur Gareyev with eyes wide open and armed with a signpost to avert the many ork attacks

The area was abandoned: nothing but snow cannons and crooked signposts were to be found and construction zones restricted the usual hiking tracks. To make matters worse, having deviated from the conventional hiking tracks, we found ourselves trapped in between remote, steep rocks and Gandalf was nowhere to be found. Weather conditions turned from bad to worse and the promised sunny crater lake seemed farther away than ever. If only we had played it safe and had a coffee while playing a game of chess? Would we ever get out of this nasty situation we got ourselves into?

Mordorski chess

There is an old Chinese proverb that says “Give evil nothing to oppose, and it will disappear by itself”. And so we went on with our journey and as many of you chess players know, all that’s left to do when everything seems to be going wrong, is to play a game of chess. And so we did. But we didn’t play a regular game of chess though: the horrific weather conditions we found ourselves in demanded a more challenging variation of the game. One where not only the intellectual strength of the players is tested but also their physical strength. A new version of chess was born … Mordorski chess, the ultimate strategy game where competitors fight in alternating rounds of chess and … sign post fencing:

The blue sky is always there

As it usually goes with playing chess, the solution presents itself after a series of long, deep thoughts. All of a sudden, a fine beam of gleaming sunshine penetrated the dark clouds we have been surrounded by all day. I remembered the weather man predicted many low hanging rainy clouds. The percentage of high clouds on the other hand, was close to zero. So as long as we kept rising, we would eventually find ourselves enjoying the blue sky above the clouds and so it happened:

The next day, we continued our journey on the forgotten world highway towards Taranaki and separated ways in Whanganui. Timur has become a great friend, someone you instantly like and respect. Someone you can learn from by observing what he does. How to describe a man of so many talents, interests and hobbies in one word? Chessbase India already asked the question before us. Hear the answer from Timur himself (end of the video).

I’d like to finish this blog post with the following quote by Harold B. Melchart “Live your life each day as you would climb a mountain. An occasional glance towards the summit keeps the goal in mind, but many beautiful scenes are to be observed from each new vantage point.

Blindfold King Timur Gareyev and Laurens Goormachtigh (Chessimo) at the top of Mount Ruapehu, Tongariro, New Zealand.

5 questions to ask yourself before you move



Have you ever had that moment when you realize you made a mistake, right after you made your move? You can’t believe your own eyes?! You almost feel like pulling your own hair out?! You’re not alone! It happens to the very best: Garry Kasparov blundered his queen against Viswanathan Anand in this legendary blitz game from 1996 in Geneva. We’ve all heard that every move has a consequence and one should think before to move. But how exactly? Here are 5 questions to ask yourself before you make your move.

1 Are there any immediate threats from my opponent?

As a result of his or her last move, is your opponent threatening any immediate tactical combinations such as double attacks, skewers, discovered checks, deflections, trapped pieces …? Can your opponent check you and follow the check up with any of the above? Can your opponent threaten a checkmate and follow the threat up with any of the above? Can your opponent capture one of your pieces and upon recapture from your side follow up with any of the above? Can your opponent approach your king, expose your king or entice your king towards more dangerous waters?





2 How did my opponent’s last move change the position?

Now it’s time to have a closer look at the chess board: observe what has happened to the position. Every move has a consequence and firstly, you want to identify the consequences of your opponent’s last move. Is there any piece of yours under attack now? Any files, ranks or diagonals that are now opened up or shut down? Which squares have become available for your pieces? Which squares are no longer available? It’s important to not only look at where the piece has moved to but also where it has moved from: what was the piece doing at it’s original square in the first place? Did (s)he create any weaknesses by leaving that square?





3 What is the long term strategic plan of my opponent?

Now it’s time to ask yourself the question why: why did your opponent make this move? What’s the purpose of the move? Is (s)he planning an attack anytime soon? Maybe it’s a prophylactic move? Maybe (s)he’s just gradually improving his/her position?

Don’t trick yourself into believing that your opponent doesn’t know what (s)he is doing. Even though this might be true occasionally, you want to play every game, every move as if you’d be playing yourself.

Your opponent, your opponent, your opponent…. What about me???
Yes, in chess, it’s important to focus on the other person first. It’s almost as if you’re listening to what your opponent tells you with his/her last move. Once you have a better understanding of your opponent’s intentions, it’s time to think about your move and come with a response.

4 How can I prevent my opponent’s plan?

Again my opponent??? One more question to keep at the back of your mind before you build your own plan. After question 3, you have a better understanding of what your opponent is trying to do. Make sure that after whatever move you’re planning to make, your opponent can’t just run his plan freely without any obstruction from your part.



5 What’s my biggest opportunity?

By now, you have a pretty good idea of what your opponent is trying to achieve and how you can prevent it from happening. Go through questions 1 and 3 again but from your point of view this time. This serves as the basis for forming your own plan. Plenty of ideas are coming to mind now and it’s time to make a decision: many good candidate moves but how do you select the best one? What’s my biggest opportunity? The answer might surprise you: LET IT GO! Take a deep breath, exhale slowly, follow your gut feeling and make your move!




Burn the school down!

Burn the school down! These powerful words spoken by Cliff Curtis, aka Genesis “Gen” Potini, in the movie The Dark Horse, illustrate that in chess – and in life – everything is possible and you’re allowed to be crazy from time to time. Push the pawns up, sacrifice the piece, blow up the king side. What’s the worst that can happen?




The Dark Horse tells the true story of the mentally ill New Zealand chess champion Genesis Potini finding his life purpose through coaching underprivileged children in chess. The film features an outstanding, award-winning performance by Cliff Curtis (Fear the walking dead, Blow, Whale Rider) who’ll be starring in James Cameron’s future Avatar sequels.


Chess teaches you to open your mind, push your boundaries and think outside of the box. Moves that seem totally absurd and unreasonable at first sight can sometimes prove to be the best moves. Getting yourself in that state of mind where everything is possible is often the first step to a great idea. Every chess player, regardless of their background and level of play, is capable of creating something new in chess.




Want to broaden your horizons and test your outside of the box thinking skills? In the impossible chess puzzle given above, white has to find a way to checkmate the black king in only 1 move. That’s right, you only have 1 move! Before you can solve this problem, the rules about pawn promotion are repeated as follows: when a pawn has reached the eighth square, the player has the option of selecting any piece of his choice excluding the king and the pawn. Hint: rereading the start of this blog post gives you a slight edge 😉






Why repetition is the key to your chess improvement.


You want to improve your chess skills and wondered what’s the fastest way to do so? You’ve read chess book after chess book, played game after game, watched YouTube video after YouTube video and feel like there’s no end to this information overload in today’s digital society? Is this really the best way to learn and am I getting the results I really want? You’re not alone. As passionate chess players we all love strategy and thus we want to adopt the best strategy to accelerate our learning process and eventually our chess improvement. How can we boost our chess skills, not just winning a few games here and there but achieving a substantial and lasting gain of hundreds of rating points without spending a decade? It’s easier than you think. We’ve all heard the phrase “Repetition is the mother of all learning”. Whether you want to learn a new language, a new instrument, or maybe a new chess opening, repetition is vitally important to improve your skills. But what does that really mean? How often should you repeat? And how much time should you space out in between? Let me lead you to a deeper understanding of the power of repetition and explain you how Chessimo can help you to accelerate your chess improvement.


Remember the very first time you were driving a manual car. You were told to put one foot on the break, one on the clutch, turn over the key, put the car into first gear, slowly release the clutch, simultaneously start pushing the gas and yes, keep an eye on the mirrors, turn on the lights, use your indicators and ow yes, make sure everyone in your environment is safe… Are you still with me? The very start of learning something new can be overwhelming and the likelihood of screwing up a few times in the beginning is very high. Of all the information you absorb initially the first time you hear it, most of it will get lost quickly as the forgetting process starts. Now, this forgetting isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In his book How we learn, Benedict Carey explains the forgetting process can be a good thing as it allows learning to build, much like an exercised muscle.


Just like you need to exercise your physical body repeatedly on a regular basis to create long lasting change, you need to exercise your mind over and over again until you’ve got the new learnings internalized. You repeat the same lessons until they become habitual and you don’t give them any conscious attention anymore. Are you still going through all those steps mentioned separately when driving a car now? Of course not. After repeating those steps over and over again, you’ve developed the habit of executing them automatically.




Unlike with driving a car, where not following a certain frequency of repetition would result in months of struggling, endless frustrations and potentially a lot of material damage, the penalty of lack of repetition in chess is much less dramatic. No big harm is brought about but you just can’t seem to figure out why your improvement in chess is so slow after hours and hours of training?

Let’s take the example of learning chess tactics: seeing a new chess tactic for the first time is exciting and often truly fulfilling. You feel amazing as you’ve discovered something new and your awareness has expanded. But can you be sure to recognize that specific tactic in every future occurrence over the board? Have you ever had that frustrating feeling where you knew you could have found that tactic in a game of your own but for some strange reason it didn’t came up on the moment of truth? We’ve all been there. Let’s put it in proper perspective and minimize the chance of that happening again.

What it really means is that that specific tactic hasn’t been internalized profoundly enough. In order to internalize the tactic – or any other chess idea – you’d have to repeat it over and over again within specifically designed time intervals. The more you repeat the tactic, the stronger the neural connection will be in your brain, the more emotionally involved you’ll become with the tactic and the quicker you’ll recognize the tactic over the board in a real game. (You want to read more about this internalization process? Have a read through Why chess grand masters find the right move every single time.)



We’ve mentioned specifically designed time intervals in between repetitions are essential to optimize the learning process. But how often should you repeat? And how much time should you space out in between? Can you design your chess training sessions in such a way that whenever you learn something new, you’re sure to capture the ideas learned as quickly as you can? The answer is yes!  Hermann Ebbinghaus plotted the retention of new information over time resulting in the so-called forgetting curve and found that the best way to retain new information is by spaced repetition of the same information. This is where Chessimo’s unique repetitive design of tactical, strategical, endgame and opening exercises comes into play. By completing one unit a day, the same patterns will automatically come back within the right time frame ensuring an optimized spaced learning process and an accelerated learning experience.

How often do you use Chessimo? Can you wait for the next day to start your next training module? Let us know in the comments below!



Why chess grand masters find the right move every single time

Why is it that – during a game of chess – a grand master instantly comes up with the right tactical combination when there’s something to be found. Why is it that they come up with the right strategic plan time after time again? Even though they might take a lot of time during a game to make their moves, great moves are already generated in the very early beginning when they come up with their so-called candidate moves. What happens afterwards is that the grand master is going to rationalise why the specific moves they came up with, are good or not so good moves. Maybe they refute certain moves after further analysis but in general, the right move or best move has already come up in the very early beginning after a certain chess position arises.   





Why is it that a grand master comes up with good moves, bright ideas in the first place, straight away, whereas a beginning chess player is more likely not to? We want to zoom in on the thinking process starting from the moment a position arises on the board until the different ideas, different candidate moves are generated. A chess grand master already has the right move within them. They only have to let it come to the surface and they know that. Knowing that they can find it is one thing, actually coming up with it during a game is another. Now it’s important to realise they can’t force it to come to the surface as that would work in a counterproductive way; force negates. They just let it come up naturally in a relaxed state of mind. Have you ever wondered why so many great chess players have that aura of calmness and serenity around them?


Chess grand masters tap into a big pool of internalised chess patterns. The bigger this pool and the deeper these patterns are rooted in the mind, the more likely they will come to the surface and the quicker they will be generated.  


So why is it that these great moves are already preloaded within them? Are they just lucky to be gifted with an inborn talent to come up with the right ideas? Or did they develop this ability through experience, great work ethic and the right attitude?




As Joshua Waitzkin’s quote suggests, a big part of the answer can be found in their mindset. In the first place, they have a strong belief that the right ideas will come up and thus they expect them to come up. This expectation brings them in a relaxed state of mind where everything comes naturally. Having gone through these thought processes over and over again, they have gained a deep understanding of the different steps involved in the idea generation process. In order to maximise the probability of generating great ideas, they have accumulated an extensive arsenal of chess positions that they can recognise in a fraction of a second over the board. They’ve seen the same patterns over and over again in their mind and have made that connection in their brains much like the formation of a neural network. The important part which is often missed is that they strengthen newly formed neural connections straight away by means of repeating them in their mind. They don’t allow the learnings to be lost. This is why great chess players analyse their own games, identify their mistakes and learn from them straight away after finishing their game, not letting the flaw repeat itself in their next game.




In order to improve your chess, many different approaches exist and many of them are very helpful. You can play tons of games online and in tournaments. You can memorize hundreds of different opening variations. You can read a big pile of chess books on opening theory, middle game strategies and end game mastery. You can hire a chess coach who brings out the best in you and motivates you to keep going no matter what happens. All of them will help you improve in chess as you’ll be exposed to many different chess positions during those practices and thus increasing the area of your own pool of chess patterns. However, more often than not, the improvements made are of a temporary nature. With periods of less frequent practice passing by, the chess concepts, once clearly understood, appear to be found only after a long quest in the dusty recesses of our minds. The result is that hours of training in which the same lessons have to be learned once again have to be spent to familiarise oneself again with those concepts. In other words, the pool of chess patterns has grown very wide, but the chess patterns haven’t been internalised yet. What would it be like if we could reduce those periods of re-learning? If we could eliminate those frustrations of having to delve up those lessons we’ve already studied so many times? Chessimo’s training modules are designed in such a way that the chess patterns accumulated during a training session are internalised immediately by means of the repetitive design of the modules. In other words, with each Chessimo training session, the pool of chess patterns not only grows in size, but the chess patterns studied will be internalised and rooted straight away through constant spaced repetition of the same chess patterns. Chessimo will give you results that stick. In this way the likelihood of recognising chess patterns when being faced with a chess problem in a real game is maximised. We want to build and grow our pool of internal chess positions to such an extent that it becomes more and more easy to recognise the chess pattern arising on the board.


Chess grand masters tap into a big pool of internalised chess patterns. The bigger this pool and the deeper these patterns are rooted in the mind, the more likely they will come to the surface and the quicker they will be generated. By using Chessimo on a daily basis, you will build your own pool of internalised chess patterns, growing it day after day, giving you results that stick.  


How much has your pool of chess patterns grown by using Chessimo? Leave us a message in the comments!


Play Together, Have Fun Together – Part 2

Gemeinsam spielen

We recently talked to one of our partners from Schachclub Vaterstetten-Grasbrunn and co-organizer of the Chessimo Cups. An interesting conversation about his love for chess, the game’s benefits for young people and an unusual concept for tournaments, part two:

Could you elaborate on your concept of competitions for amateurs and youths?

First of all, it it probably important to mention that we capped the DWZ (German ELO) at 1500, because players who are better than that have plenty of opportunities to compete in events. It was important to us to focus on amateur chess in the broadest sense, such as tournaments where children play adults and where people can compete, even though they might only have discovered chess late in life. So the motto of the Chessimo Cups is: play chess together, have fun together.

Our concept, initially developed by Dr. Konrad Müller, consists of two parts: the youths championship goes up to age eleven and a DWZ of 1000. This limit ensures that the competing children play at a similar level and have a real chance of winning – which makes them significantly more motivated! The second approach is an amateur cup and involves a system with groups of four, meaning four players at a single table, who play each other. These groups are organized in a similar manner to ensure equal opportunity and prevent matches from already being decided before they have even begun.

Another aspect that’s special about this: all of the games are played in a single day. Time-wise, it does not only ease the load on parents, but also provides the players with the opportunity to play multiple matches in a day – that’s quite different from other tournaments.

In the end, how did you come to partner up with Chessimo?

That’s because I’ve had a lot of positive experiences with Chessimo. After downloading the app in spring 2015 I came to an agreement with my daughter while we were on vacation: “for every minute that you play chess on Chessimo, you get to watch a minute of Minecraft Let’s Play videos” – which was a big deal to her at the time (laughs). The result: 90 minutes of practice time each day and more than a 1000 completed problems. When we got back home, she beat two of our top boys – which right away got people to question me about the contents of her breakfast.

I think repetition-based system that Chessimo is built on is ideal. The point being: if you have learned mate in one, the mate in two is going to involve the previously learned mate in one. I am convinced that learning through repetition is an ability that is taught less or even actively unlearned in elementary school nowadays, even though children still need it. Chessimo helps them acquire this skill while having fun at the same time!

If you look for chess apps, you‘ll mostly find apps that are only suited for either play or analysis. If you do manage to find an app to practice with, it’s often going to be targeted at a very narrow audience. Chessimo is not only suited for children or beginners, but also for experienced players, thanks to the different levels of difficulty. All of these positive aspects lead me to try and establish a partnership with Chessimo and thereby link two parts that really haven’t been linked too much in chess: online and offline.

…which we at Chessimo are very happy about, of course. Thank you very much for the conversation, Mr. Schmitt!

Play Together, Have Fun Together – Part 1

Matthias Schmitt

We recently talked to one of our partners from Schachclub Vaterstetten-Grasbrunn and co-organizer of the Chessimo Chess Cups. An interesting conversation about his love for chess, the game’s benefits for young people and an unusual concept for tournaments, part one:

Mr. Schmitt, to start off with, a question that is almost obligatory: how did you come to play chess?

I’ve got to admit that I really was a late bloomer in that regard. Even though I had already been curious as a child and  had tried to teach myself to play chess with a manual from a collection of board games, I had failed in this endeavor and subsequently lost interest. When my daughter discovered her own love for chess five years ago, she kept improving her skills at a local community college (in a class that was taught by a member of the Vaterstetten-Grasbrunn chess club, by the way) and then pushed me to get back into it. We spent a lot of time together during that period and I turned from an eager player into a huge fan of the game. That is mostly due to the remarkable and positive developments that can be seen in children who play chess – not just for school, but for life in general.

The crucial effect that I have noticed not just with my daughter, but other children as well, is that their level of concentration in school is much higher. Thanks to this concentration, they absorb the subject matter immediately and can cut the time needed for homework in half. More time for more pleasurable things is an added bonus, of course. I can tell you about children whose performance in school became much better when they started playing chess. This was also confirmed by a study that was conducted at Trier-Olewig elementary school.

What other positive impacts can be seen in children and youths who play chess?

Longer games improve the ability to concentrate as well. They teach children how to focus on one thing for hours on end. Self-esteem also plays a big role, especially for the girls. What could possibly be better at this age than beating the boys? (laughs)

The positive social aspect that players solidify by taking part in classes or tournaments should not be ignored either. Children play against adults with the same skill-level in our club and that teaches them how to get along with people of all ages and heritage. Competing in events like the Bavarian Championship, team competitions or a chess summer camp builds a strong sense of community and positive relationships. That’s something that many people have lost sight of: chess is often a team sport!

Does the Vaterstetten-Grasbrunn chess club specifically foster children and youths?

Exactly! That’s why our club is one of the few to have a paid volunteer who teaches chess in local schools. The costs are completely covered by the club, since we’re convinced that anyone who’s interested in the game should have the chance to join a workshop.

That’s also why children can join our club for only 9€ per year. We thereby make sure that anybody can afford a membership, no matter their financial background. That fee does not only cover regular events and training, but we also pay their starting fee for external competitions.

Time for real opponents!


Have you heard of Chessimo Play yet?

Our app on Facebook lets you test your chess skills in real matches! Whether it’s real time or correspondence chess – play against opponents from around the world or invite friends to a challenge online!

In case you don’t have a Facebook account: don’t worry, you don’t need one to use Chessimo!

Click here and try it out now!

New Chessimo app for iOS


It’s finally here: as of today, the new and optimized Chessimo app for iOS will be available on the App Store.

And there’s good news for all existing users: you can conveniently transfer your TRAIN status onto our platform via an update and won’t lose anything when you make the switch to the new version.

But hold on, there’s more: as a cherry on top, we’ll cut you a deal and make Chessimo available for only 7,99€ for the first two weeks.

Have fun! We’re looking forward to your feedback.