Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Narratives and chess vision II

Now I have formulated the narrative of the cage, there are a whole lot of chessproblems that fall into this description. Every mate, to be precise.

I'm well aware that what I try to tell now probably will sound very vague, but since it is important I hope you are willing to put some effort in it to understand what I'm trying to say. Feel free to ask.

There is a close relation between narratives and chess vision. A narrative is the first stage of learning something new, chess vision the second. Take for instance the narrative of the king in the cage. The narrative tells that there are 3 types of fabric of which the cage is made:
  • The edge of the board (physically visible)
  • The pieces of the opponent (physically visible)
  • The squares covered by your own pieces (chess vision needed)
The narrative supplies the idea of the king in the cage. The idea of the cage limits what you need to see. You don't need to see the whole rim of the board, you need only to see that part of the rim that is part of the cage. The same is true for the pieces of the opponent. You don't need to see all of them, only the ones that are part of the cage. The same is true for the squares covered by your own pieces. The narrative describes in words the pattern you must learn to recognize. In this case the cage. This makes it logical to assume that there will always be needed a certain form of chess vison in order to visualize the pattern as defined by the narrative.

Due to the idea of the cage I was able to run through the advanced problemset of the CD intensive course tactics II of Renko. The whole CD contains only problems with forced lines. That is to say, every move is a check. Every CD of Renko focusses on one or a few tactical themes.
Now I started with the forced checkmates of masterlevel. These are more complex than the advanced level. Hence it forces me to create new narratives which must explain why these problems are more complex. This is what I found:

Sofar I encountered 3 layers of chess vision:
  • The squares covered by my present pieces (part of the present cage)
  • The squares covered by a piece of me in the future (part of the future cage)
  • The squares covered by the enemy (limits the places where I can put my pieces hence my ability to create the future cage)
At masterlevel the last two layers cause the problems. They are hard to see and easy to forget. The problem with chess vision is simple. The suares you see are visible only for the minds eye. That makes them very volatile. If you can only use your short term memory, the amount of squares you can handle are limited to 7 or so.

It is not quite clear how to work around this limitation in a practical way.


  1. I dont quite get it. Indeed a matingnet around the king consists of 9 squares. But the squares around the king can be seen as one or a couple of chunks (for example: a line attacked by the rook is one chunk), Therefore the cage will most of the time be well within the reach of the short term memory.

  2. Anon, yes that is the correct theoretical idea. But practice is more stubborn. See my next post for an example and see where your memory overloads.