Saturday, September 03, 2011


Some time ago mr. Z came up with this position:

Black has just played Qxe7 so it is white to move.
We both struggled to calculate this position towards quiescence.

Somewhere along the road I always lost focus and got into repeat mode.
At a certain moment, mr.Z sent me the following narrative:
  • Rxe7 (to take back the queen) and pins a pawn to the black king.
  • Rd3 pins the white knight to the king on g3
  • Rc7 prepares to double the rooks on the 7th
  • Nb3, to double attack the knight pinned to the white king
  • Kg4 steps out
  • Rf8 to defend the f pawn that is pinned to the king
  • Ree7 to double rooks on the 7th.
  • Black resigns because the knight can add another attacker to the pawn. The knight will win a tempo on the d3 rook if it doesnt move away. The rook can't defend against the knight because a pawn supports it.
All of a sudden, without looking at the board again, I could see the whole line in front of me within about 30 seconds.

What does this mean?
My visualization skills are maybe not so bad as I think but without guidance it simply wanders around. I realize that I already have found this before.

I read the first two chapters of "Improve your chess now" of Jonathan Tisdall again. He advocates to concoct a verbal, abstract synthesis of a position. The position must be conceptualized. Tisdall insists using the word visualization. But since the role of conceptualization is so great and visualization is actually used for actions involving the retina, I'm inclined to follow Francis Mechner and use the term mentalization in stead.

So I'm going to experiment with Tisdall's steppingstone method with the aid of narratives and see what it brings.

Aox suggested another method from Rolf Wetzell:

I wonder if your "mentalization of a future position" is the same as Rolf Wetzels APROP= Ability to PROject Positions? In his Book Chess master at any age he suggest some drills for APROP:
Look at any game at, say 10 moves, close the book and rapidly construct the position an a diagram/board. As you improve try 12 moves.

Since I don't own the book of Wetzell I find it difficult to answer this. Maybe Aox can elaborate a bit more on this system?

Btw I'm experimenting with Bangiev's method. It's a rather defiant method, so it seems suitable for me. I recognize a lot in it from Vukovic and my writings about invasion squares. Has anyone experience with this?


  1. Rolf Wetzell: "B. Ability to PROject ositions (APROP).
    APROP is a measure of the speed and accuracy but not the soundness of the selection with which a player calculates and projects a number of moves, or a variation, in advance. If we were to set up a test to reflect APROP, the simplest one would be this: take, as a starting posi-tion, a diagram from a chess book showing some middlegame position you have not seen before, and then, without setting up a board, but continuing to look at this position, visualize the game continuation for some number of moves, say eight moves for both sides. Now draw the new position on a chess diagram (you may, instead, set up the position on a chess-board). The total time it took to do this, adding some "penalty time for each piece incorrectly placed, wqpld be a good measure of APROP. Incidentally, in Part III we'll introduce a set of symbols for the pieces which are simple to draw. "

    Wetzell became a master, after 50!

    I have problems to understand where you see your problem. Isnt it the thougth-process you should work on?

    It is (would be) not necessary to "branch" if you "simply" choose always the "best" move in your calculation. Because you dont know exactly the BEST move you take the move(s) wich goes along with the "necessities" of the position.

    If you dont "see" or know the necessities, its hard or impossible to compensate by pure calculation.

    To solve positions like the one from Mr Z. i would suggest a training with Chesstempo in Standard - Mode (and/or Endgame-Theory). It forces you to calculate sharp positions long and precise. That you might learn some Tacticpattern too, should not harm that much.

  2. That APROP method seems worth an investigation.

    What I see as my problem is the following:

    Careful study of Heisman's advise lead me to the conclusion that I have visualisation problems.

    Tisdall makes a clear distinction between calculation and visualisation. According to his description, again, my problems lie in the visualization area and not in the calculation area.

    Francis Mechner, in his paper, declares that there is no such thing as visualization in blindfold chess. He has a very convincing story that it has to do with conceptualization of the position. He came up with the term “mentalization” for this.

    Tisdall stresses the need for conceptualization tg go hand in hand with visualization.

    So this is what I'm investigating right now.

    In the past years I have been the guinea pig in all sorts of experiments with tactical improvement methods. Often I have gone into greath depth. Including ChessTempo. None of these methods worked for me. That makes it difficult to give me advise that I have not already done and have proven that it didn't work.

  3. In short, I have difficulty to create a stable stepping stone to start calculation from.

  4. If you cant improve in tactics ( to master level ) then you cant improve in chess ( to master level ). Almost every type of improvement of skills in chess should create an improvement in tactics to, especially visualisation and calculation. If you cant visualise a tactic how could you visualise a "non" tactic.

    So if you give up at tactics you can give up on chess.

    You did all of these blindfold chess trainings like solving tactics in your mind after a short few at the position, the chess eye training and many others. I am shore your visualisation is outstanding for your playing strength. But visualisation and calculation dont help at chess if you cant judge a position, if you cant tell whats up, where the problems and chances are. But if you can "read" a position the most of these calculations and visualisation are not necessary anymore.

    Your tactic-training did not improve you, your blindfoldtraining / visualisation did better?

    I belive ( after all i read about your blindfold training ) that you can calculate and visualise perfect but you dont know WHAT to calculate/visualise. You can see the position but dont know the logical move(s). ( I might be wrong of couse ;-)

    You should do some calculation and visualisation exercises with other player of your strength and compare!

    Susan Polgar does find brilliant moves without any calculation in virtually no time. I am shure that the learning of chunks/templates/conceptions with related moves or tecnics is most important for improve in chess


  6. So if you give up at tactics you can give up on chess.

    You must have got me wrong. I don't give up on tactics, I give up on methods that proved not to be working. I can't imagine any objection against that.

    I can't help that pinpointing the exact problem leads to unexpected discoveries. Like the relationship between visualization and conceptualization, for instance. Isn't that amazing and beautiful? I don't know what to think of it yet but I have a month to concoct a training based on it.

  7. Hi Temposchlucker:

    Perhaps you should try Stoyko exercises! I just started using the method, so I can't provide any evidence for its usefulness. Here's a link:

    Another idea is guess-the-move using GM games as your basis: