An interview with the unique grandmaster, also known as the Blindfold King!
Timur Gareyev is a grandmaster level chess player who was born in Uzbekistan and is now living in the United States. In fact, he has held the prestigious rank of 3rd highest rated chess player in the US due to his USCF ranking of 2780. This incredible rank also puts him in the top 100 chess players in the world, all before the age of 30!
We were able to take some time out of GM Gareyev’s busy schedule to conduct an interview with him. Read on to find out all about how he got into chess, his most notable achievements to date, and even the crazy hobbies he has away from the chess set!
When asked how he first learned to play chess, Timur replied, “My grandfather taught me to play when I was 6. My father instilled in me the joy of contemplation and habit of playing. They were among my first teachers. My father tended to use more of a positional style and chose Queen’s gambit. My grandfather used more tactical approach and played King’s gambit.”
These differing play styles allowed Timur an early sampling of the wide variety of play styles he would later face in the wide world of competitive chess. He thinks that the most important thing his father and grandfather taught him, though, was how to love the game. In his own words, “fortunately growing up I had an amazing environment where chess welcomed me into its mysterious realm over and over again.”
We have a feeling that he never stopped getting that warm welcome!
Timur Gareyev has collected a multitude of achievements in the realm of chess during the years he has been playing competitively. Just a few of them include:
● #3 highest ranked chess player in the United States
● #76 highest chess ranked player in the world
● Youngest ever grandmaster from Asia as of 2004 at age 16
● Asian Champion U-14 at age 12
● Represented Uzbekistan in chess Olympiads in Calvia and Turin in 2004 and 2006, respectively
● Member of University of Texas at Brownsville’s chess team from 2005 to 2006
● Tied for first with GM Vladimir Egin and GM Anton Filippov in the 2007 Uzbekistani Chess Championship
● Champion of 2008 Blackstone Chess Festival, in Pawtucket RI.
● Winner of Liberty Bell Open in 2008 and 2009
● Champion of Arizona International in 2009 and 2010
● Winner of Chicago Open and the US Open in 2011
● Champion of Far West Open in Reno in April 2014.
● Recipient of FRANK P. SAMFORD, JR. CHESS FELLOWSHIP, July 2012 – June 2013.
● Author of chess tactics workbook, C.A.T. Tactics, with a new book called Get Off the Couch and Play Chess coming out soon!
Speaking of blindfolds, we asked Gareyev how he first became interested in such a niche part of competitive chess, and he had this to say, “I go into all my matches looking for a challenge…I am a fan of George Koltanowski. I would say he is one who sparked my interest and inspired me to play blindfold chess. As I began to train consistently, playing chess without a sight of a physical board became second nature.”
It’s hard to imagine how playing chess with a blindfold on could ever become second nature, but we’ll defer to the expert on this one!
A Year Without Chess?!
A shocking post on the Blindfold King website teased the possibility of GM Gareyev going a full year without playing chess, looking at a chess board, or even visualizing chess in his mind. We’re happy to report that that idea was just a bit of a joke. Aside from his love for the game, we’re willing to bet that it would be difficult or impossible for Timur to go a full year without so much as thinking about a chess game!
One of the great things about blindfold chess is that it gives you the powerful visualization skills needed to essentially “play” a chess game in your head anytime, anywhere. Since Gareyev has already admitted that this process has become second nature to him, we doubt it would be so easy to turn off!
Timur’s Other Hobbies
Looking just at how skilled Timur has become and how many achievements he has in the world of chess, it would be easy to think that he never steps away from the chess board for a second! Luckily for him, that’s not the case. We asked him about some of his favorite hobbies outside of chess, and you may be surprised to hear what he said!
“I very much enjoy the challenge of learning a new language. With all my travel in the last couple years, I always make an effort to speak with the locals. Second to chess, my love is skydiving and base jumping.”
Wow! It certainly seems that GM Timur Gareyev is no stranger to adrenaline spiking activities! The fact that he regularly jumps out of planes and off of tall structures and keeps coming back to the world of chess should serve as a testament to the game’s excitement and intrigue.
GM Timur Gareyev is certainly an interesting personality, and nothing like the stereotypical image of a boring old chess player that many people have in their heads. All that he has been able to achieve in chess at his age is truly inspiring, and we hope you enjoyed getting to know the Blindfold King a bit better!
- Chess Players: Our list of the Greatest Chess Players in the World.