Funky sort of asked me about the difference between skill and understanding in chess.
I'll give it a try.
The brain has different "parts" that can perform different tasks at the same time.
You can easy see that for yourself.
It is possible to calculate the square root of 6084 while at the same you sing "Mary has a little lamb".
One part can only perform one task at the time. So it is not possible to calculate the square root of 6084 while at the same time you add 2347 to 5378 (try!).
If you can find out how much different things you can do at the same time, you will see how many "centers of gravity" the brain has.
The main parts are intellectual (where you calculate), emotional (feeling) and mechanical (singing a well known song). But there are a few more.
In chess the intellectual and mechanical parts of the brain play the most important role.
Thinking and understanding are typically done by the intellectual part.
Automatic skills typically belong to the mechanical part of the brain.
Have a look at the great article at Susan Polgars blog.
She played a blitz game (1 minute vs 5 minutes) against a boy, and won.
"Once you have a winning position," Susan said, "play with your hands, not your head. Trust your intuition."
This refers to the mechanical part of the brain. Seeing is doing.
The mastering of every skill starts out with the intellectual center. If you learn to play a piano, you first have to understand a lot of things. You have to understand how to read music etc..
What is typical about the intellectual part, is that it is so much slower than the mechanical part.
When you practice a lot, you have to rely less on your intellectual center since the performance of the task shifts to the mechanical center.
At the same time you speed up a lot.
The same is true for learning chess.
First you have to learn and understand a lot with the intellectual part.
Then this knowledge has to be transferred to the mechanical part by practicing.
That creates room for new understanding (you can only perform one task at the time with the same center, remember?).
Since the game of chess is so complicated, we haven't to be afraid of playing it all by mechanical skills. There will always remain plenty necessity to understand and think during your game.
But the more understanding you have transformed into automated skills, the higher your rating will be.
Sorry for this rather mechanical view of mastership. I know many will hate it.
Logic obligates me to say it this way.
Being romantic is not my forte.
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