For me that is a proven fact.
But it is clearly not a very effective method.
You have to work like a frantic dog, doing 50,000 problems in 600 hours to get some measurable results. There must be a better way.
In an attempt to try and find it I do some brainstorming.
I'm just thinking out loud.
My startpoint is an article from about a year ago:
A new study discloses the fact that it is not only lots of study and practice that is essential to master chess, but experts and amateur players use different parts of their brains during matches.
Research by scientists in Germany involved scanning the brains of 20 men as they played against computers. Half were grandmasters the loftiest ranking in the chess world while the other half were merely good amateurs who'd practiced and played for at least 10-years.
It was noticed that for a few seconds after each player made a move, tiny bits of energy called "focal gamma bursts'' appeared in his brain.
Grandmasters had relatively calm medial temporal lobes - an area thought to be crucial for performing new tasks and establishing short-term memory - during the games when compared to amateurs.
In amateurs, "focal gamma bursts" were most prominently detected in the medial temporal lobe and in grandmasters researchers measured the bursts most often in their frontal and parietal cortices, parts of the brain linked with long-term memory and the ability to perform complex motor skills.
The results of this study, which was carried on by the University of Konstanz, indicated that experts and amateurs use their brains in fundamentally different ways during a match.
The lead researcher of this study says that precisely how and why brains are used in different ways remains to be explained. He however explained that with each new move, amateurs must focus on analysing what essentially is new information. While experts are able to retrieve "chunks" of long-term memory while relying on brain circuitry outside the medial temporal lobe.
Grandmasters while studying chess get to see hundreds of thousands of different (chess board) positions. They store these 'chunks' in their brain. When they see a similar position, they retrieve the data from their memory.
Lead researcher Ongjen Amidzic said that amateurs never encode in long-term memory the information they cull over the years from a chessboard. Why remains a subject for additional study, he said.
A neuroscientist at the University of California, Los Angeles said that this research appeared to be the first one to distinguish between experts and amateurs. And the results themselves were not entirely unpredictable.
Reading in Wikipedia revealed the following:
Depending on storage time the memory is divided in:
- Sensory memory (milliseconds - secs)
- Short term memory (seconds - minutes)
- Long term memory (days - decades)
The long term memory can be divided in:
- Declaritive (explicit) memory
- Procedural (implicit)memory
What's in declaritive memory can be explicit put into words. It requires conscious recall.
In the procedural memory there is implicit "how to"-knowledge stored. Recall of information works unconscious. It works more on a stimuli - response basis. You can't put it into words.
Complex motor skills are handled by this memory.
The article seems to suggest that grandmasters record their knowledge the same way as one learns new complex motor skills, that is in their procedural memory. While an amateur stores his knowledge explicit in his declaritive memory, where it is of no use when playing chess.(They only can talk about chess with this knowledge:)
I think this is what is meant by DLM when he talks about the difference between chess knowledge and chess ability. I remember lively discussions amongst the Knights about the difference between memorization of problems vs. plain pattern recognition. The base of the discussion was that most of us felt that these two "tasted" different.
I have studied SOPE in an intellectual way half a year ago. Now it is put to the test by pawn ending problems at PCT all this study proves to be of no use. I still score terribly on pawn endings.
So I think we do best when we look upon learning chess as acquiring complex motor skills. (Now I lose the romantic part of my readers:)
J'adoube describes it beautiful in an old post of his called Tetelestai:
Blue Devil Knight asked about percentages. If I take my time, then 100% correct. All of them. All the time. How could they not be? I've done these problems so many times it really is like playing a video game. I can do Level 10 in 18 minutes. That's smoking.
Exercise until you walk thru the problems like playing a video game. That's the way to go. I believe that the much critisized time constraints of CTS to solve a problem within 3 seconds actually is its strongest point. You can only solve a problem within 3 seconds when it is handled by your brain as a complex motor skill. Stimuli - response. A tempo:)
What's the way to acquire new motor skills?
I found two things: repetition and visualisation.
I experimented with visualisation by playing thru the solutions in my mind with my eyes closed.
At the time it seemed to work. Looking back in retrospect I don't think so any longer.
On repetition: it's not clear if the method of spaced repetition is equally suitable for procedural memory as it is for declaritive memory.
(to be continued. . . .)