The Chess Wanderer

"Les pions sont l´âme du jeu" Francois-André Philidor, 1749

Friday, February 03, 2006


I've been thinking about visualization lately. I know a few of the Knights have mentioned it in their posts before so I would like to ask for opinions.

In your experience:

1. Does the ability to see all the threatened squares at a quick glance help in a chess game?

2. If so, what do you think is the best way to learn how to do this? I have software that has a "threatened squares" button that will show me visually how much real estate each person has. Or does this ability come naturally after playing thousands of games?


At 2/03/2006 3:31 PM, Blogger Edwin 'dutchdefence' Meyer said...

Rather then experiences i like to express my feelings on the subject.
I personally feel that visualization is a key factor in playing better chess. I am pretty sure that for a big part, masters (and the likes) rely on visualization throughout a game as well as on other things. But it's not just about seeing threatened squares, it is the ability to see so much more then the avarage player. Now, i have played a few masters of the game over the Internet, and it is obvious that they see so much more while some thing's haven't even occured. But you can bet your butt they will let these thing's occur...
The best way to learn? Maybe you should do a search for chess visualization training with Google. One site i know that deals with visualization training is CVT. Pay them a visit and let me know what you think of it.

At 2/06/2006 9:14 AM, Blogger Pawnsensei said...

Hey Edwin,

Thanks for the link. It's a very interesting website. I registered and started on the problems.


At 2/10/2006 6:42 AM, Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

I have been wondering the same thing, PS. I want exercises that will help me visualize, quickly and effortlessly, which squares are in danger. Being able to do so would sure help the last step of my thought process, which is to blundercheck.

I have been trying to come up with vision drill on that. I bring up a random game from my database in Fritz, go to move 15 or so (where there is more likely to be action), and for a sequence of 10 full moves (both sides 10 moves) I do vision drills to just find the threatened squares of both sides (part of my blundercheck is to see if I am missing a piece my opponent has left en prise).

So what are the drills? Unfortunately, it is in a state of flux. Perhaps we could continue to discuss this and find what works best for us. I have tried two things.

1. What I did at first was write down every piece that was in danger, for both black and white, after each move. Unfortunately, I found this time consuming: I want it to be fast, like the de la Maza vision drills (which, even though I have never repeated them, have helped me a lot with knight vision: less so with pins and skewers).

2. What I am trying now is, instead of writing them down, I just TOUCH, using my thumb and forefinger, all attacking piece and attacked piece pairs (much like in the de la Maza vision drills you touch all the squares that the knight can go to). I then turn on Fritz's 'highligt attacked squares' function, to see if I got it right, and to reinforce this visualization.

I haven't been diligent about this, but perhaps now that I've talked about it I will make a committment. How about this: I'm now committing to do this for the next week, before I go to bed.

I'll let you know how it goes. Please let me know any of your ideas.

The CVT recommended by Edwin looks good, but really isn't getting at the same thing. I find when 'visualization' is discussed people usually mean being able to visualize blindfolded. I'm sure that's important, but I just want to see things with my eyes open, and from my experience with knight site, I know it is possible to do so without putting the blindfold on.

At 2/10/2006 1:17 PM, Blogger Pawnsensei said...

Hey BD,

I like your idea. How about this modification.

Look at the board and time how long it takes to count the number of attacked pieces for black and white. Don't need to note the name or location, just "Black 5, White 3" If you can do this in a couple of seconds then your board vision must be pretty fast. What do you think?

If you like maybe we can make problems for each other then swap problems and answer sheets. That way we don't have to keep checking the answers after each diagram, we can just go through the whole set, time it (e.g. 20 diagrams in 5 minutes), then check the answers on the answer sheet. We can even make a template to go by.


At 2/10/2006 2:45 PM, Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

That is an interesting idea. I like the idea of not having to check each time, as that is time-consuming. One question is how to count pieces that are attacked twice. I would probably want to count that as two attacks.

The down side is that it sounds like a lot of work to make up such positions, a lot more work than just scrolling through 10 moves in a game (I like that also, because the scan gets easier with time, just as in a real game).Also, it nicely mimics the flow of such blunderchecking in real games: once I know, in a given position, which pieces are attacked, only changes in the square from which the present piece moved, and TO which it moved, can affect the attacks (e.g., a square is now empty that wasn't, so there can be discovered attacks; and a square is occupied that wasn't before, so I have to see how that affects my previous judgment).

The two could be combined. Could work through ten moves in the middle of a database game, writing down how many of each side attacked. Can track how much faster you get at it...I'll try it and see how I like it.

At 2/11/2006 8:29 AM, Blogger Pawnsensei said...

That's true. Your new plan sounds good. I would forget about the previous move though. That should be part of your thought process before you make the move, not after. Once it's done, forget about it until the post-mortem. This excercise is mainly concerned with seeing the board in it's present state.


At 2/13/2006 7:39 AM, Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

I did the counting type a couple of times so far. I like it. I count each attack, not each piece attacked (e.g., if my pawn is attacked twice, that counts as two).

Here is what I do. I write down the then half-moves I'm gonna analyze on a piece of paper (17., 17. ..., 18., 18...., etc).

I pick games from the database that start out with the opening I am using, so I can get some stuff by osmosis for free.

So, say I'm playing black and I have picked a game, say Owen's defense.

After white's move, I write down how many threats there are against white AND black. Then, BEFORE BLACK's move (not after), I look at the next move in the database, imagine I made it, and write down how many attacks for black/white. This is to mimic what happens in real games: you don't get to blundercheck after you've moved.

This is good. Frankly, it takes me a long time to do it well. SO far it's taken 6 and 10 minutes in my two tries. This means it takes me about a minute to blundercheck. I'd like to cut that down by 1/4.

I'll be putting a post about this as I get more experience with it.

At 3/16/2006 8:02 AM, Blogger viruswitch said...

I believe the visualization ability along with the intuitive talent are the most important things in chess. What has helped me develope the visualization a bit more is to watch others play for few hours. In our club we gather in the evenings in a cafe and play chess games but I dont always get to play (many people and only one board in the cafe LOL) so even the mere watching forces me to concentrate and think in a chess manner. I guess the more time one spends occupying himself with chess, the more the mind gets programmed to think this way.


Post a Comment

<< Home