Gareev, ranked 3rd in the U.S. in chess, was at Cook County Jail in Chicago, Illinois, as part of a program meant to encourage inmates to be more thoughtful in their actions and really think things through. The ten matches took about two hours to complete.
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart wanted to incorporate chess into the program because it is a game predicated on patience and strategy, and moving impulsively usually has dire consequences.
To keep track of the games, the moves of Gareev’s opponents were called out loud so that he could visualize the boards. He still found it fairly difficult.
“It’s kind of almost a visceral sense of the experience that you take in. If you’re trying to memorize every single game, all the moves, all the variations, it’s quite impossible,” Gareev said. “But the memory has all the little tricks that makes it easier to create patterns.”
Gareev said playing several games at once was challenging. “I have to be more resourceful,” he said.
Inmate Anthony Wooden thought he would have success because Gareev couldn’t see the board. “I know I can beat him,” he said. “I’ve been playing chess since the 6th grade.” Needless to say, he didn’t win.