Yesterday I picked up a second hand copy of Jonathan Tisdall's book "Improve your chess NOW". Hattip to Blue Devil. These are my first impressions.
Alexander Kotov formulated for the first time a fundamental theory about chess improvement and especially about calculation improvement by means of the tree of analysis.
He hardly can be enough honoured for that. At the same time, while reading his work I realized that his idea's had to undergo some modification to make them applicable in practice. This doesn't detriment his original idea's, but adapts them to practical use.
While I was developing these thoughts, Blue Devil pointed on Tisdall's book. Tisdall has used the method of Kotov and developed it further by adapting it to practice. Two new idea's stand out in the first two chapters.
First Tisdall describes a method of "internal speech". During analysing a position you talk to yourself like "f8 is the only way the black king can escape mate, how can I prefend him from going there? Ah, Bc5 will prevent that!" etcetera. I already had realized the importance of internal speech while reading Kotov.
Second he advocates blindfold chess as a method to improve your calculation skills. He proposes (in my own words) to visualize the positions at the knots of the tree of analysis as stepping stone for the calculation of the following series of moves, thus hopping from knot to knot.
One thing his chapter about blindfold chess shows is that there is a lot of confusion about the used terminology. And indeed that needs a lot of refinement.
To give an example:
If blindfold chess leads to superior calculation, you would assume that blind people would all be of expert level at least. Since this is not the case, blind people do something different than what we use to call blindfold chess.
I have played a few times against a blind guy. He has a special board and feels the position with his fingers continuous. He has the same problems with projecting the future positions before his mind's eye as everybody.
While playing blind I can beat most non-clubplayers. But when I play a complex position then there are 3 elements that play a role. First the visualisation of the stepping stones. Second the calculation of the series of moves that leads to a new stepping stone. Third, the problem at hand. If you can't solve the problem, the other two are of no use.
While playing blind against a non-clubplayer, the third point doesn't play a big role. Since I can beat them anytime, the problems I have to solve are very simple in general.
All this needs to sink in and needs more testing. All my previous conclusions about visualisation are in need for an overhaul and need refined terminolgy and definitions. Exciting times lie ahead!
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