Derren Brown’s Impressive Memory Feat In A Chess Simultaneous Exhibition

This YouTube video shows an impressive memory trick by Derren Brown. The Amazing Kreskin has previously pulled off something similar, with a simultaneous match against Viktor Korchnoi and Robert Byrne; the trick there was that Kreskin was also blindfolded! But I believe that Kreskin used the same pairing trick that Brown used; so which is the more impressive, that Kreskin was blindfolded, or that Brown had to remember four pairs?

In viewing Brown’s impressive achievement, I couldn’t help but remember a humorous story of Tim Krabbe’s:

A grandmaster once played a 10-board blind simul somewhere. Knowing the ropes of blind simuls, he varied his games right from the start, maybe opening two with 1.e4, two with 1.d4, one with 1.b3, and so on. To his surprise, all of his opponents played 1…b6. On the second move, five of them played 2…Bb7, and the other five 2…Ba6. On the third, three of the five players who had played 2…Bb7 now played 3…Bc8 and the other two played 3…Ba6, while three of the five who had played 2…Ba6 now played 3…Bb7, and the other two 3…Bc8. On move 4, the grandmaster saw bishops everywhere. After move 5, he excused himself and went to the toilet where he was happy to find a window big enough to let him through.

Hilarious! This passage is from Krabbe’s A Love Story With A Diagram, which you can find at his very interesting (for chess enthusiasts) site Tim Krabbe’s Chess Curiosities. Some readers may know Krabbe as a novelist (The Vanishing, for example).

(This post first appeared at my other (now deleted) blog, and was transferred to this blog on 21 January 2021.)