Allthough the chess season hasn't started yet, it is allready itching. The Tata tournament is lurking beyond the horizon. Time to make a study plan for the next half year. First let me distill a final conclusion from my previous posts:
In essence there is no difference between analysing a current position and a future position. Since a position is a position. The only difference is the base from which you start. With a current position you can interrogate the physical board for the exact position of the pieces. For a future position you have to interrogate the mentalization in your mind.
This leads to the following question. How do you form a mentalization of a future position?
There are a few options.
- Stepping stones.
- Chess memory.
Jon Tisdall advocates a technique with stepping stones in combination with blindfold chess in his book "Improve your chess now". This technique sounds convincing enough, allthough I couldn't find proof that it actually works on the web. The reason I like it is that Tisdall's solution seems to fit my description of the problem so well.
Before the summer break I had started with a nifty little program called "chess memory". It shows a chess position for 10 seconds which you have to reconstruct from memory. At first I could only remember positions of 6 pieces (=what fits in my short term memory). But after two weeks this developed to positions of 10 pieces. What I like about this program is that you see chunkbuilding at work. In order to remember more pieces, you must group them in a chunk en store the chunk as a whole in your memory. Susan Polgar showed in a documentary of the BBC ("My brilliant brain") that she can reproduce an entire position of 32 pieces after seeing it for only 3 seconds. Being able to do so seems to be a good way to solve the question I defined. The chess-memory program I mentioned seems to train this isolated aspect.
There are a few facts that cast some doubt on this solution though:
- The quality of the chunks I build doesn't feel all that well. I start binding together pieces with "a knight's distance", "a long knight's distance" (1 square diagonal, 2 straght), "a very long knight's distance" etc..
- There is scientific evidence that intermediate players could learn to memorize entire chess positions this way in about 50 hours of training without any significant difference in their playing ability.
- chess memory seems to be a side effect of other skills.
This is about translating a chess position into previously acquired concepts. See the scientific base here. I discussed this with mr. Z and we did some experiments. This idea seems to be the most promising. It means that we get round visualization. This theory covers the most facts and there is scientific backup. The downside is that we have to invent a trainingsmethod based on this theory yet.
Before the summer break I was busy with method 2, training chess memory. During the vacation I inclined to method 1, stepping stones. Hence the title of this article. But now I'm thinking about it while writing, I see that method 3, mentalization is the most in line with my previous thoughts. So method 3 it will be.
Preparation before training.
In september I will have another geology excursion.
I will start in octobre with serious training for the Tata Steel chess tournament.
This means that I will have about a month to invent a training method based on mentalization.