## Saturday, March 14, 2009

### Wax in, wax out

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Remarkable that nobody commented on the picture of my previous post. That illustrates the power of pattern recognition!

Probably I would gain the most points if I followed the road that Phaedrus mapped out. And I sure will once. Yet at the moment I'm amusing myself with visualization exercises. For the following reasons: I want to settle this issue once and for all, the Chess Exam pointed out that I'm bad in calculation and I'm curious if my assumptions will stand the test. Besides that it's fun.

Ok, now where are we standing? Let's stretch matters a bit.
Plateauing starts when automatic training takes it over from conscious training.
Automatic training results in no transfer of conscious tasks towards the procedural memory.
So the training is automatic, but in the real OTB deal you remain dependend on conscious actions.
So the training will be conscious, while the real deal will be greatly automated.

Past two weeks I have made considerable progress in board visualisation. We all know EXCEPT J'ADOUBE by now that board visualization is of no use in games with a real board, but it is an excellent laboratorium to test hypotheses and trainings methods.

The method I used is to rebuild the bord from its diagonals. Yesterday I started with a new exercise: I try to imagine a knight on a random square on the board and to see all the squares it can go to. It is quite difficult for me and I really have to force myself to complete a whole circle of 8 squares around the knight. And I try to relate every square to the diagonals it is on.
To imagine the moves of a bishop is more difficult than the moves of a rook. But the moves of a knight are really hard to imagine for me. Especially the backward knightmoves. Maybe that's the cause that I find knights hard to handle on the board!

Key criterium is to enlighten the burden of the short term memory. Those tasks with details that you have to repeat consciously over and over again to prevent them from fading away from memory. The exercises above point out exactly which tasks need automation!

One word about maintance of skills. I don't think much effort is needed to maintain a skill once the transfer is complete. Just like swimming or riding a bike you tend to never get rid of it.

Besides board visualisation exercises I redo exercises from papa Polgars brick with the aid of a real board but with no pieces. That goes extremely well. Usually I'm a bit faster than I was a few years ago when I did them for the first time with the aid of real pieces.
I make heavy use of narratives during solving and that helps me to get much more out of an exercise.

The losses in my games lately point out that the bane of pattern recognition will be the most profitable. Yet bad calculation plays a role in almost every game of mine, allthough it seldom is the sole reason to lose a game. For the time being I continue with visualisation exercises.

[to be continued. . .]

1. "I redo exercises from papa Polgars brick with the aid of a real board but with no pieces."

You are looking in the book, to get the problem and then at an empty board to solve it? That might be a good training!

But why are you so focused on visualisation when you hae a problem with calculation? You know your weakness because of the "Chess Exam". The "Chess Exam" is focused on a better training by detecting weaknesses and working on them. So the testresults and the suggested treatments are connected. visualisation is only one of 8 training hints of the book concerning calculation problems. i have the impression you try to prevent thinking by training recognicion tooooo much. even your visualisation training seems to intend to prevent calculation instead giving support to train calculation.
you need to visualise for to calculate but you cant calculate if only your visualisation is good.

i made the Cess exam to (thanks to your hint) and my results are: Over all 1739, calculation 1565. The (estimated) reason for my bad calculationresult: I play mostly quick games (5 min).
my focus in training are :
1) practice complex combinations slowly, without moving peaces
2) some "Chess Eye" training to prepare playing Blindfold Chess with Fritz at low strength.
3) the other hints from the book.

Later i intend to check my "progress" by "Test,Evaluate and Improve your Chess" from Chessbase.

2. Uwe,
visualisation is only one of 8 training hints of the book concerning calculation problems.

Why not start at the beginning? I can't do all 8 at the same time without losing focus.

i have the impression you try to prevent thinking by training recognicion tooooo much. even your visualisation training seems to intend to prevent calculation instead giving support to train calculation.
you need to visualise for to calculate but you cant calculate if only your visualisation is good.

Sounds a bit like an amateur psychotherapist but I assume you don't mean it that way. It seems to me that you think that calculation is more than visualization plus pattern recognition plus evaluation.
I would like to know what more there can be.

3. sorry if it did sound somehow negativ, that was definitely not meant!
For a good "calculation" you need to be able to focus your mind and use methodical thinking to. Maybe this can be summarized as evaluation.
Some GMs suggest to "get" candidate moves and analyse them one after the other. pattern-recognition let you judge the final positions and let you find the candidate moves but pattern-recognition is in the "Chess Exam" part of "Standard Positions" and others. If the patterns change ( quick, drastic ) with the moves Khmelnitsky speaks of "dynamics". So in Point 8 he suggest to "work .. dynamic endgames into your training routine". In dynamic situations "natural" moves (results of a pattern) are often wrong, they need to be checked.

So it looks to me that Khmelnitsky was thinking more of "evaluation" than of pattern-recognition when he was speaking of "calculation".

Here https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=10713928&postID=1114892079434844897 i did suggest some "visualisation" and blindfold chess training. Now it seems, you do nothing else.

I have negative experience with focusing to much on one small aspect of chess. after focusing on tactics ( witch is still "closer" to OTB then visualisation of diagonals ;-)) for some months i did forget my openings. bsss, bad games, very bad.

So i do some visualisation training, to start some blindfold chess training soon, but i do several other exercises to, and these even more often.

I hope this statement sounds less like an amateur psychotherapist ;-)

4. Uwe,
I find it difficult to maintain the momentum of an exercise when I do too many different things at the same time. By doing an exercise focussed and energetic it gets "swung" and becomes a joy instead of a daunting task. What helps is that the exercises are working. Another point is what I wrote about maintaince. Every task that is transferred feels as a freeing of a burden from STM for life.

Yesterday I played a very wild game and at move 20 I was so absorbed that I couldn't annotate well anymore. Every task was screaming for attention and a little room in my STM so it was impossible to write down the moves well. I just couldn't remember the names of the squares.

Those little yet important tasks are good subjects for transfer. So why not doing a few conscious exercises and make those pesky little tasks automatic once and for all and free up some short term memory? So that it can be used for more useful "calculation"? That is how it feels.

5. And about training visualisation too much, the only risk is to spill my time. Huh, spilling my time? We are talking about chess here:)

6. "We all know by now that board visualization is of no use in games with a real board, but it is an excellent laboratorium to test hypotheses and trainings methods."

We do? Who's "we"? You and the mouse in your pocket? One of the first tests student get in chess training is board visualization. It's a basic skill to play the game. . .

7. Have you tried playing over short games without a board? Have you tried to play a computer blindfold on an easy setting? Both of these exercises will help visualiztion AND calculation.

More fundamental though, beyond what I call "static pattern recognition", getting there is more of a dynamic path through accurate positional analysis. This was the other cornerstone to DeGroot's findings on MAster vs Amateur. If you lack the skill in being able to propoerly evaluate postions with your eyes open...then visulaizign them will be that much more difficult "with your eyes closed".

It's all a matter of perspective. Like Julian Beever's 3D sidewalk art. In his work you have to be standing at teh right place to recognize the pattern and it just jumps right out. That's pattern recognition. However, as you walk up and see this disproportionately drawn leg stretching across three store fronts culminating to what looks like a picaso rendition of a pool with a lady in it. You have a harder time recognizing the pattern. But, knowing that Julian Beever is in the vicinity, you see the chalk lying on the ground, and vaguely make out that it's supposed to be a lady in a tub, you walk around and get teh proper perspective. That whole proces took teh right positional evaluation and calculation.

Chess is a lot like this guys awesome artwork. you have to be able to cue in to the dynamics surrounding the position before you can get teh right perspective of the pattern that may or may not exist.