Thursday, April 07, 2016

How to speed up a thought process?

The question in the title is far from trivial.
I'm doing quite a lot of blitz problems at CT, lately, in an attempt to implement my new thought process. A thought process is maintained by thoughts, and thoughts are notoriously slow by nature.

Sometimes I recognize something in the position, and I let trial and error take over. If I'm lucky, I find the solution, but more often than not, I find that I continue to use up time, without remembering that I was busy with a thought process. The conclusion must be: during this stage of implementation of the thought process, I must suppress the inclination to use T&E.

The thoughts itself can't be sped up. I asked myself if there could be any salt mine exercise useful to speed up the thought process. I estimated that this might be useful in less than 2% of the cases.

The only way to speed up the thought process is to build new cues and patterns by thoroughly analysing the positions, and categorize them in positions with equal characteristics. I can't see no other way.


  1. I was astonished when you said you could speed up your thinking by a factor 6 or more
    I dont think you can ""speed"" up your thinking, but you can optimize your thinking, erase unnecessary thinking and do the most important things first.
    I dont think that it is possible to bypass calculation completly.

    And i think the first step to improve the own thinking is: to watch and memorise the own thinking. What was i thinking about first.. what did i not think , what was wrong what di i think about several times and so on.

    I think every chess thought should bring us closer to the right solution

    With killermove puzzles i start with counting material and then i ask myself : is the puzzle about checkmate (= or matethreat )?
    If i diecise: yes then i will not look for lose pieces but i will try to find a method to checkmate the opponent.
    Now i may find that i was wrong and i cant give a checkmate but this decision will now be based on organised and careful thinking.

    I will not jump back and forth betweeen different ideas i systematically reduce the possibilitys
    ( well.. as soon as i will be perfect ;)

    1. I never have thought for a moment that I could speed up thinking. So sorry if I made that impression. I think that the thought process can be sped up by a factor 6 though. Just by eliminating every waste of time.

      Bad habits make I think unorganised though. The bad habits are quite a bit stronger than I expected. Besides that, new cues that simplify pattern retrieval must be created. That's a task that takes time and patience.

  2. The problem is, that in order to get rid of the waste of time by undisciplined thinking, you need a thought process, which takes time to process.

  3. I am not sure, but I think correcting our way of processing may be much more important than speeding up the process. If you do not notice an important element (feauture) of the position - speeding up does not give you a better solution.

    It is the same as we are driving a car. It is not a problem to drive faster, but to drive in a proper way. Otherwise it may look like we are heading in a wrong (opposite) direction.

    What do you think of that?

    1. Its about speeding up without making more errors. Better would be: speeding up AND making less errors, but score and speed are interchangable anyway ( to a large extend ).

    2. We need to add trivial chess logic. If there is a pin, we shouldn't let the mind wandering around for two minutes before we accidentally stumble upon the fact that it might be a good idea to look for a possibility to attack the pinned piece.

    3. to me this is not logic but these are fragments of pseudocode

      While there are other tactical weaknesses
      select one which is at least theoretically playable
      Try to find connected weaknesses
      For all standard methods
      try to apply
      If ok then play move and stop
      next standard method
      next tactical weakness

      With every step from the above we get closer to the solution, so we dont waste time

  4. I am really curious if you have already thought about the idea of priorities. If we could built some kind of "priority model" of type positions - we would be able to see if this help to speed up the process.

    Take notice that most of the time if we FAIL at the puzzle - there is something "hidden" from our eyes. If we would classify all (or most) "hard to spot" positions (correct solutions) together with possible reasons of failure - we could break through to the next level. Do you agree on that of there is some errors at my estimation?!

    1. Priorities are of the utmost importance of course. It is not simple to optimize this for the human mind, though.
      Most errors are not made when you check the moves beforehand. But since checking takes time, you lose rating points due to time usage.
      Often the first move anyone gambles is right by accident. This way the solution time of the problem is artificially lowered. People make the right move for the wrong reason. That way you are punished by the bad habits of your fellow solvers. Which invites you to adopt the same bad habits.

      We must painstakingly work out the priorities, in order to prevent thoughts to be pondered too early.

  5. I have just tested some puzzles at ChessTempo. It looks like I can solve most problems (puzzles) whenever (every time) I know the type of the puzzle. The hardest thing to me is to check out for the refutation. I simply have no patience nor perseverance to do so.

    And sometimes I simply lack motifs and ideas. I cannot see the core of the position. After I see the solutions 85% of the time I could solve it IF I sit down and work really hard at these puzzles.