Tuesday, March 01, 2011

The need for speed

The brain seems to have a preference to do tasks with the slow conscious part of the brain. In order to automate a task you need to speed up your exercises. Only when you try to do the task faster than your conscious brain can follow the brain is forced to transfer the task to the automatic part of the brain.

Last saturday morning I was training with Fritz board vision exercises. My brain wasn't quite awake and I could not go faster than 15 targets per minute, what was my average the days before. 4 seconds is about the highest speed the conscious brain can go for low level tasks like deciding if a piece is under attack. After trying to speed up for one and a half hour, all of a sudden something changed. Suddenly I became aware of where the essential pieces were and what they were doing. There was no focus or interest of a particular piece, but I just was aware where they were without actually seeing them. There was really overview of the board. I was in the zone like that French master describes. Immediately I speeded up to 20 - 26 targets per minute, only restricted by my rather slow mousehand.

Those simple tasks of which the tables of multiplication exist (chesswise) must be done in <4 seconds. Otherwise you are thinking.
That must be the way to do it!


  1. Congrats! It always feels good to break through to a new level.

    I think I'll add this to my training regime. Maybe traded off back and forth with the work I'm doing on visualizing lines in my head, to push past my current 8 ply barrier.

    I'm finding the "fast, easy tactics" limited by how long it takes to get oriented to what's happening on the board, so this sounds like it'll help.

  2. Congrats speedy Tempo, fastes mouse of Holland.

    It's always nice to have a something click and improve. Now i hope all this practise will help in your real game since then the situation is different, the stress will be kicking in.

  3. I had a few of "suddenly be quicker" experiences to. Usually they where, when my live was endangered. Then the world was suddenly in slow motion and i could plan! and react hundred times quicker. (Adrenalin?)
    But i have these experiences sometimes with my tactics exercises to. After 20++ quick solved puzzles i feel a sudden "flow" and i get much better and much quicker, but this is only for a while and its very rare.

    ? Is this new abillity still there, or did it vanish ?

    When you are running long distancs, there is a phase of
    total Exhaustion. if you continue to run the running gets suddenly easy. (Glykogen...)

    ?Is there a need of "Exhaustion" to create this type of experience?

    Maybe the brain switched because of local Exhaustion

    If this is phenomenon is positive ( as you see i am not 100% convinced, but i see the chance! ) then there is a need for computerised exercises. I could help writing software.

  4. @KP and CT,

    The congratulations are somewhat premature since I intend to automate all the 26 tasks of board vision and tactical vision. If I extrapolate the measured training time to those 26 task then I need 500-800 hours. Say one year at a rate of 2 hours a day. Only then the pudding can be considered to be eaten. If after that my rating rises indeed, I will be ready for congratulations.

  5. @Uwe,
    If you change your training from one brainpart to another you will inevitably experience matters in another way. I hope I didn't trigger wrong associations by using the expression "in the zone". For me, who is rather slow and think twice before every move and prefer rather no action (achoo!) at all, it is a rather extraordinary experience. But the Speedy Gonzalesses among us probably consider it to be normal.

    It has nothing to do with exhaustion and it can't be avoided either when speeding up beyond the limits of thinking.

  6. I'm a computerprogrammer myself but there is no need to since Chess Tempo has everything available in their Golden membership section. To which I submitted for $35 last saturday.

  7. @Temposchlucker
    What do you mean by:
    "26 tasks of board vision and tactical vision"

  8. 3 board vision tasks in Fritz and 23 tactical tags on chess tempo. Read the articles about vision of NM Dan Heisman to which I refer in previous posts.

  9. There are now a few more tags at chess tempo. You wont train all of them, though. I think it is pretty useless to train "needs more moves", or "different move of opponent required". Also the tag "exposed king" is suspicious: it will give you all sorts of tactics, because many users think it means many different things.
    Then there is no "check mate" tag. But I believe it is pretty useful to do all "check mate in 1" and then all "check mate in 2" and maybe in 3, too.

    I think you should continue your training, and do the other (useful) tags. I believe there are less then 20 useful tags to be trained.
    Besides: I managed 47 attacks/minute (42 undefended pieces/minute, and 35 checks/minute), and I dont think I am a very fast mouse mover. For a normal human, 1 click per second with the mouse should be possible, and so I believe the limit might be a little bit over 60 attacks per minute. I am guessing: maybe 80 attacks/minute?