If you look at my previous post, I divide the subjects that are presented there in two:
- The subjects where anyone will get an improvement by natural law as long as he is willing and able to put in deliberate practice, given enough time and effort.
- The supertrick. Where you can't make any progress no matter how much deliberate practice you put in it.
Without mastering the supertrick, you simply cannot hope to ever reach a serious level of chess, no matter how much deliberate practice you put into it.
Let's focus in on point 3 of my previous post:
3. The future position. All the skills you need in a current position are needed in a future position too. But there are a few additional problems to overcome too.
- You have to "see" the future position without using STM for it.
- You must not only see the pieces, but the squares they are covering too. The "radiation" of the pieces.
I already dismissed point 1 and 2 of my previous post as being sensitive to deliberate practice. If there is any supertrick around, it must be within this point 3 above. It starts with:
"All the skills you need in a current position are needed in a future position too."
This means that point 3 can be devided in two separate parts:
- Seeing the future position as a present position.
- The skills to be able to do so.
Exactly the same skills you need for a current position you need for analysing a future position. For the very reason that a position is a position, no matter if it is a future or a present position.
So if you are improving your skills to analyze the present position, you are improving your skills to analyze a future position. The skills to analyze a position will improve with deliberate practice. No supertrick needed here.
The skills to be able to do so.
Now we are talking about quite a different animal here. In order to see a future position in the same way as you see a present position, your mind must be able to create an inner representation of the position which is as stable as a physical board. When you are manipulating the pieces before your mind's eye, your inner representation of the position is not allowed to fade away. Your inner representation must be unsensitive to interference caused by manipilating the pieces. This is something I'm terribly weak at. This is something that doesn't improve by deliberate practice, no matter how much you play or train. May I introduce to you, ladies and gentlemen, the one and only supertrick!!
The following definition seems fully applicable to exactly these skills where we are talking about:
"Visualization – The ability to keep track of where all the pieces are (and “see” them as a position) as you move the pieces in your head, analyzing future possibilities" (NM Dan Heisman).
Let's see what we can say about these skills.
What general knowledge do we have about these skills?
- It is not innate. Proven by papa Polgar.
- It is educatable. Proven by papa Polgar.
- It only develops while young. Proven by Ton Sybrands who holds the worldrecord blind simultaneous play checkers (28 games, score 77%). He learned to play checkers very young. He learned to play chess rather late. He is a mediocre chessplayer and a mediocre blind chess player.
- It's chess specific. There is no radiation to other area's of mastership.
- It is not sensitive to deliberate practice. No matter the time and effort.
- It is method dependant. Only some youngsters use the right method by accident.
- It is unconscious.
- It doesn't need much maintainance. If maintainance works at all after becoming an adult.
- It is waining when growing aged.
- Ability to remember chess positions well
- Ability to play blindfold chess
The key question is of course, can this be learned as an adult?
As a matter of fact, MDLM has proven that it is possible.
This blog is the very proof that the method used is not a trivial question at all. But after 10 years of investigation this problem at least I have found this method for adults to transfer skills into LTM.
The only question remains: to what skills must this method be applied?
The first question to be answered was: do we need a picture of the chess position in our head?
After a lengthy and inspirational discussion by e-mail with mr. Z (better known as Anonymous) we found that the answer is a resounding NO! In stead you have to encode the position into your LTM in some sort of conceptual way. Read here the scientific details.
The theory of chunks by prof. Adriaan de Groot has had great influence on the theory of chess skill development. The main question is: is chess memory a side effect of the skill we are looking for or is it the skill itself. The dissertation of Roring (hattip to AoxomoxoA) seems to indicate that it is only a side effect. On the other hand, it seems plausible that being able to remember a position after looking only 10 seconds to it is a skill that could be able to maintain a stable mental future chess position while analyzing it. On yet another hand, novices proved to be able to learn the skill of chess memory in about 50 hours with little effect on their chess performance. So I'm afraid I have to volunteer myself as guinee pig again.
I experienced myself that training blindfold chess has a big hiatus: you still have the problem that you must investigate a future position from a current position. That continues to cause a STM memory overload.
I believe we narrowed down the area of investigation quite a bit. Yet there are still a lot of details to be discovered. At least now I know what I'm looking for.
(to be continued . . .)