We have found a lot of interesting stuff lately. Especially the analogy with pattern recognition and clouds is very strong (see the comment on my previous post). On the other hand my fellow bloggers Mouse, Takchess and Sciurus remind me that there are still some loose ends to cover.
What have we found thus far?
The mind is very economical. From objects only a few remarkable outlines are stored in memory. Most of the picture isn't stored at all.
When you need the picture because you want to think about it in your minds eye, the outlines are recovered from memory and the details are reconstructed on the fly.
You can easely see this for yourself.
If you try to visualise your attic (or garage, or shed or whatever) for your minds eye, what you see is very incomplete. It is not as if you are in your attic and can easely look around. You see only a few outlines, and when you try to focus on details, you have to fantasize them, to reconstruct them. But most details remain simply in the mist. They are not there since you haven't stored them in your memory. (Or if you have, you can't reach them.)
The same is true for a chessboard. You can easely see for your minds eye a rook going from d1 to a6. That is because we have always worked with tables with columns and rows. But if you try to see a bishop going from c1 to a7 in your minds eye, it is very difficult to focus on the crosspoint. That is because we are only familiar with the long diagonals and not the remaining diagonals.
Isn't that funny?
Allthough we have spend days and weeks on end behind a chessboard, we have only so little of its geometry stored into our memory.
A pattern you haven't stored in your memory you can't recognize and you can't visualize it.
Once you have a pattern stored in your memory, you can recognize it even in a very distorted position, and you can visualize it.
This is the reason why grandmasters are always good blind players (and good blitz players), without special training.
Until now I always used the hypothesis that 1 problem is 1 pattern.
Science did an educated guess -solely based on the amount of hours a grandmaster spends to become a grandmaster- that a grandmaster has stored 50,000 - 100,000 patterns in his memory. This gave me no reason to cast any doubts on the correctness of the hypothesis of 1 problem = 1 pattern.
This hypothesis lead to my maniacal behaviour at CTS, since I wanted to store these 23,508 patterns of CTS as quick as possible.
My fellow bloggers Mouse, Takchess and Sciurus casted doubts on this theory in their respective comments and posts.
Sciurus drew our attention to the fact that grandmasters in the past had become grandmaster without computers and without massive repetition.
I dismissed that fact with the argument that they were young and we are adults so what they did has no relevance for us.
Which is a complicated way to say I have no idea how they did it.
But thinking things over, I realized that MDLM didn't make use of massive repetitions either and he was an adult. I hope you don't mind that I call 1209 x 7 NOT massive repetition of patterns.
MDLM used, according to my hypothesis, only 1209 patterns. Why did he become so good so fast? I always had the feeling he forgot something important to tell us. He did something what was natural for him -but not for us- and he didn't realize that it was important to mention it. I often wondered what that could be.
The scientific estimation of 50,000-100,000 patterns stored by a grandmaster has put me on the wrong foot. Let's have a closer look.
White: 2 pieces, a rook and a bishop
Black: 2 targets, a king and a queen
How many ways are there for a discovered attack for white to attack both the black king and queen: 65,280
How many patterns do you have to store to recognize this patterns a tempo in any position?
Somewhere between 1 and 65,280.
Can it be 65,280? If that was the case then probably no one would ever recognize this pattern.
Can it be only 1? I suggested this in a previous post. Most of us feel that 1 is to little. If I look at this specific discovered attack, I think that 4 or 5 positions are basic positions while the rest are lookalikes. So you have to store only 4-5 patterns and you can recognize all 65,280 positions with it. That's the power of pattern recognition.
We have to take a fresh look at it.
People have an amazing ability to recognize a once stored pattern. Even if a cloud is very distorted, you can see a rabbit in it. What you can't do however, is to recognize a pattern that you haven't stored.
How simple is it to store a pattern? We allready found that the brains are very economically with the storage of patterns. Even if you have looked for weeks on end at a chessboard during your games, most geometric details aren't stored in our memory. Why not? We have an idea of the global shape of our country on a map. But how many details can we draw of the various states, provinces, cantons or regions?
When we find out how to store patterns, and we identify the relevant basic patterns, we might be able to make a quantum leap forward.
Yesterday I said I don't have the patterns of Oklahoma or Switzerland stored in my system. I have looked at the map of both. Today I have a clear picture in mind of Oklahoma, but the picture of Switzerland remains pretty vague. The reason for this is that Jim said that Oklahoma looked like a frying pan on an open fire, while Switzerland hasn't such characteristic features. The map of Oklahoma has a lot of straight lines, what is a familiar pattern, while Switzerland consist of ravels, and I don't know how to remember these.
So it might very well be that there are only a few hundreds patterns to master, but that we have no idea how to do it.
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