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Will Chess Players Be Next on NSA Surveillance Lists?

On June 29th ,  around 11:30 am., a disturbing find was made at the home of a retired IRS agent living in Mandeville, Louisiana. Oh my!


There on the doorstep of the unsuspecting citizen lay a suspicious object waiting at the front door. The package was square and tinted in a disturbing red hue, clearly a color meant to cause alarm. That’s exactly what it did as a bomb squad was brought in to investigate.

  • 25 officers from the local police force
  • 20 Sheriff’s office deputies
  • A number of FBI agents
  • Members of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

The worst was confirmed after an X-ray of the briefcase-sized package produced disturbing results. According to Mandeville’s Police Chief Rick Richard, the interior was “a mirror image of a pipe bomb.” Richard also went on to say that after 30 years in the business, he had “never seen something that looked so real.”

The tension heightened as neighbors were instructed to evacuate the potential blast radius. A friend of Lakewood Heights resident David “Doc” Mancina called him to share news of the situation. After seeing helicopters circling the area, Mancina decided it was best to leave despite not being within the 600 foot perimeter of the official evacuation zone.


Carla Buchholz, a Mandeville Councilwoman, was anxiously observing the incident from inside her Golden Glen subdivision home. Her neighborhood was considered safe from the potentially impending explosion.

When asked if she was concerned, Buchholz stated “Not at all. I think the police have it well in hand. I feel fine.” Those who thought about leaving would have few options because movement was heavily restricted as entire streets were blocked off in preparation for any possible outcome.

It was finally decided to blast the “bomb” open with a powerful water cannon. Doing so revealed the terrifying truth. A brave officer fully clad in body armor moved cautiously closer to discover that instead of containing a tangle of wires and hastily built mechanisms the box actually housed an army of proud kings, queens, knights, rooks and all the necessities for a full game of chess.

The chess pieces were mistakenly thought to be the batteries required to detonate explosives while bits of fiber and other debris resembled the tell-tale wiring of a homemade bomb.

This wasn’t the first time Mandeville has had a bomb scare. Portions of the city were closed off for hours on April 17th after a suspicious briefcase was discovered in the trash outside of a local post office. The briefcase gave up peaceably, which allowed authorities to find that it contained no explosives. Sadly that wasn’t enough to save the attaché bag which was destroyed in the name of public safety.

Authorities declared the area clear around 5 pm. There has been no word on the origins of the rogue chess set.

“Thank God this turned out to be nothing,” Richard commented. “We’re getting a little too much practice at this, but it’s a good exercise.”

While local residents feel satisfied knowing they are in good hands, the hosed down chess set and decimated briefcase may disagree.


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Try Your Hand at Chess, BLINDFOLDED!

So you think you’re a pretty good chess player? That may be the case with eyes wide open but how do you perform when you can’t see? Sans voir, better known as “blindfold chess” is a challenging take on this classic game.image

The rules of blindfold chess are relatively simple.

  • Each piece moves just as it would in a normal game
  • each player must remain completely blindfolded for the entire session.

That’s right, no peeking at the pieces! An intermediary is usually present to verbally relay each move so everyone is aware of what their opponent is doing.

What the Heck?

Believe it or not, this version of chess has been around for centuries. It is estimated that the blindfold was introduced in the Middle East sometime around 665. The hobby began to catch on in other parts of the world, including Europe. The practice was sometimes used as a way to handicap a chess master when facing off with a lesser opponent or as a way to show off superior abilities.

And You Think That’s Tough?

Although not quite the same, a similar version was recorded by well-known chess historian Harold James Ruthven Murray. This take on the traditional game included a pair of Asian horsemen who rode alongside one another while calling out each move. The game was played entirely without board, pieces or other guides.

The world’s first blindfold chess event was hosted in Florence, Italy in 1266. Later in 1783, French chess player Andre Danican Philidor demonstrated his prowess by taking on up to three opponents simultaneous while blindfolded. His ability stems from the unique way he would lull himself to slumber on sleepless nights. While others might count sheep, Philidor would visualize the game board.


How About 26 Games at Once!

Players of the 20th century decided to up the ante with even grander simultaneous blindfold chess games. The Alamac Hotel in New York was home to a 1924 event  which would be considered the strongest of all blindfold exhibitions. This competition featured 26 blindfold games played at the same time. Paris hosted yet another competition in February of the same year with 28 four-player teams facing off.

If you think that’s impressive, then you should learn about the amazing abilities of one Marc Lang. This German-born player made his way into the European record books by taking on 35 opponents simultaneously while completely blindfolded. The entire undertaking spanned 23 hours and resulted in an impressive 19 wins, 13 draws and a mere 3 losses.

Then again, played a simultaneous exhibition blindfolded over 46 boards in Sontheim an der Brenz, Germany. With a score of 34.5-11.5 in a simul that lasted 21 hours and 9 minutes.

When it was first introduced, blindfold chess was viewed as a miraculous skill that not everyone possessed. Today we know that any strong player is capable of competing with a blindfold. It takes a lot of practice, determination and experience on the squared battlefield, but it can be done.

Modern events are still hosted, the most prominent of which used to be the Melody Amber Tournament in Monaco which was officially ended in 2011. Serious players can still participate in blind chess tournaments all over the world. Just remember that this is one hobby that is not for the weak minded or unprepared!



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