Monday, June 18, 2007

That's the question

The question.
In my previous post I formulated my question. Without a question you can't get an answer. So defining the question is all-important. Today I started to look for answers in Kotov's "Think like a grandmaster", a book that I only had glanced thru once. I did some testpositions and the results were pretty revealing. Especially if I take the position into account too on which I worked for 7 seven days lately.

The misconception.
I used to think that the difference in calculation skills between amateurs and grandmasters wasn't that great. That the real difference was made by the amount of patterns each could recognize. In fact that was what prof. Adriaan de Groot stated somewhere in his scientific work. But now I found out that that is not true.

If the problems of Polgars book and Kotov's book are the standard, then grandmasters can calculate much better than me. What is more, my latest experiments with deep calculation convinced me from the fact that I can do much better than I do right now. The idea that I have reached my upper limit of calculation skills is utterly nonsense. I have just deceived myself with that idea.

Lately I read a scientific research which refuted the statements of prof. de Groot.
Prof. de Groot based his conclusion that amateurs and grandmasters don't differ much in calculation on research with rather simple problems. But the refuting study was based on much more complex problems and a big difference in calculation skills was shown. So the accent of my work shifts from pattern recognition to developing more calculation skill.


  1. I was wondering about this today as I read your previous post. I'm not sure if you were here or not when I wrote about what various authors have said about how to get better at analysis here.

    Since I wrote that, I found that Tisdall, in his book, Improve your chess now, has an entire chapter on how to get better at this (the most sustained treatment I have seen). He basically says, 'Learn to play blindfold,' and also has a 'stepping stones' method to visualize variations. This is chapter 2 of his book.

  2. I did read your old post when you wrote it, but since I hadn't a question by then, it didn't make an impression. But now it's different. I have read a few reviews of Tisdall's book because of your advice. It looks like his idea's fit very well with the ones I'm developing. I'm even prepared to look at blindfold chess again.