Finding my way in the chessdevelopment- and training jungle in order to improve my rating.
Friday, March 06, 2009
. . . This week I have been busy with board visualization exercises. It is quite difficult to maintain a non-distorted picture of the board in my head. The details continuously fade away so I must constantly refresh them. My rule of thumb is that everything that has to be maintainened consciously by repetition has to be transfered to procedural memory. Thus freeing the short term memory for more intelligent tasks.
The brains are quite efficient and they don't like to transfer tasks from the conscious part of the brain to the procedural part. From our youth on we are much more familiar with rows and columns than with diagonals. This makes it much easier to imagine rook moves than bishop moves. Even the playing of a zillion chessgames doesn't inspire the brain to transfer the visualisation of the diagonals into procedural memory. Conscious reconstruction of the diagonals seems to be "cheaper" than unconscious visualisation.
I started to consciously "build" the dark diagonals in my head in many different ways. For instance by drawing a bunch of dark squares with my eyes shut. Or by imagining the dark squares on this board:
. . . Or by these exercises etc.. I even studied the diagonals when I was not to move during a chessgame. At the beginning of the week the board was a fading cloud of fuzzy squares while now some parts of the board have become persistent. I don't need conscious repetition to maintain these parts of the board anymore. The board even starts to have some resemblance with a square in stead of a cloud.
What does this tell us? The transfer is done in a conscious way with effort. Once the transfer is completed, the task is no longer effortful. (Quite) a few conscious repetitions are needed to hammer the task down. The transfer cannot be done in an unconscious way. That is why playing bishops diagonally in zillion games doesn't work.
The same is true for the pattern recognition department. The recognition of the patterns happens effortlessly, but the building of the list of items to be recognized requires conscious effort. Hence I tend to generalize this conscious transfer system as the main method to get things into procedural memory. To add some controversiality: it even points in the direction that a baskettball player should do better to make a few really conscious throws than to do the same over and over again automatically. But maybe I'm overstretching matters now.