Today I finished the third and last strategy module of PCT, before the end of the year as I intended. They had a little "surprise" for me in store since their latest units all existed of 30-60 problems while the last unit contained 240 problems!
Since it were all familiar problems, I had a chance to take a good look at the retrieval of the answers. This is my experience:
- Scanning. The eyes scan around the board and testmoves are executed before the minds eye. The eyes always follow the same route at every repetition of a problem. The same moves are tried, the same errors are made. Only from time to time, usual after more repetitions, some flaws in the route are corrected, some unnecessary eye movements are eliminated. Time 0-30 seconds
- Pattern recognition. All of a sudden a part of a geometrical pattern is recognized. Time less than 1 second.
- Retrieval of associations. Immediately the whole pattern is retrieved, along with all associated thoughts, idea's and patterns. Time under 3 seconds.
- Reconstruction. The mind starts to reconstruct a textual narrative and other associations. This seems to be at least partial a conscious process. It is rather slow. Time 3-10 seconds.
- Verification. This is a conscious process. Check of the position indeed is what you think it is or only a lookalike with a different clue. Time 10-30 seconds.
- Confirmation. If the verification is positive, an emotion arises indicating "this is the right move". Time to arise less than 1 second, but the feeling can last some time.
Big plan vs little plan.
PCT typically provides little plans, that can be summarized in a narrative of one or two sentences. Big plans are made by backwards thinking or what does this piece want for Christmass? I don't think that the creation of big plans is very viable in OTB situations. There simply isn't enough time for such time consuming conscious process. Big plans are necessary for analysis during study. But the derived conclusions must be converted into little plans for OTB usage. So big plans for the study room, little plans for OTB.
Conscious vs unconscious.
Both reconstruction and verification are at least partly conscious processes. I'm not convinced that the conscious part is necessary during the training process. But I'm addicted to control.
Necessity of narratives.
These textual associations play an important role in both storage and retrieval. It helped me tremendous. It distincts the different positions and ideas from each other. Little positional plans are easy to catch in narratives. But I'm convinced they play a crucial role in tactical problems too.