Tuesday, April 05, 2011

5 down, 25 to go

Papablanca asked:

"Hi Tempo,

I am interested in your vision on how CCT relates to seeing moves by drilled skills and/or pattern recognition. In my opinion CCT and recognition are complementary but do not function at the same time. CCT demands concious effort while recognition demands (drilled) skills. In my practice I do not rely on CCT immediately, since i have the feeling that this would dehance the benefit of pattern recognition. So first I look to a position trying to spot patterns and only then I do a CCT. Also I think when you do tactical problems using CCT (from the start of looking at the position), your pattern recognition skills are hardly trained. I am very interested in your opinion on these matters."

Pattern recognition is a skill we can't help we possess. It is limited by the database of patterns we have. Just as the amount of animals we can recognize in a cloud is limited by the amount of animals in our database and not by the amount of cloudsshapes we remember. There is no need to develope the skill of pattern recognition, but we can upgrade our database with animals.

Different skills work parallel at the same time. Even during conscious thinking. Conscious thinking can only be done in a sequential or serial way. But during thinking little men are running through your brain, busy with gathering and combining all sort of information automatically.

Compare it with driving a car. Your legs are working the pedals while you are not aware of them. During thinking words are retrieved from memory, associations are made etc., all unconsciously and parallel in time.

Conscious thinking is where the light of conscience falls. But the little men that assist you are working in the dark. They are only semi-intelligent, they have no discrimination though. So you must always keep an eye on the result they come up with.

CCT is indeed a conscious thoughtprocess. But there are lot of skills that can assist it. In order to lighten up the burden on the short term memory. Pattern recognition is only one of those skills.

The 3 board vision exercises of Fritz all develop skills that assist CCT. But CCT has to be dissected carefully and as much different useful skills as possible have to be identified and exercised. My scalpels lay ready. . .:)

In the end there will always be some conscious work that is left to be done. But if you realize that Susan Polgar used 2.6 seconds per move at average against 1170 persons in a simul and scored 96%, then you understand that no conscious effort is needed to beat anyone below 2000 rating. Since you can't think of anything usefull in 2.6 seconds this means that everything was done automatically.

  • 3 board exercises Fritz
  • Knightfork
  • Double attack
  • Discovered attack
  • Pin
  • Doublecheck
  • Hanging piece


  1. But besides the benefit of inconcious pattern spotting, isn't there a role for actively looking for patterns as well? In my opinion you get more out of your 'patterndatabase' by supplementing the inconcious- with concious use.

  2. The little men in your brain that work in the dark look at what's in the light too and assist you accordingly. You can compare it with a stage where the spotlight (consciousness) is focussed on the stage. The stage is your short term memory. But behind the stage there are a lot of men working. There is for instance a prompter in the dark that helps you to remember your lines. Other are changing the decors.

    Actively looking for patterns is known as "guided pattern recognition" and that can be helpful.

    But it is even better to educate the little men. Which is what I'm talking about. Skill is much broader than pattern recognition. There are all kinds of tasks that can be automated. The little men have a self-organizing capability too.

  3. Some boardvision exercises and more: http://www.chessgym.net/

  4. oax,

    I will have a close look at it. Looks interesting, Thanks.