Please turn on javascript in your browser to play chess.
Only Chess Forum

Only Chess Forum

  1. 29 Jun '06 21:30
    I picked up a book the other day (from the library) on mental math, that is doing mathematics in your head instead of pencil or paper or calculator. Some pretty neat tricks that my fifth grade teacher never told us. Anyway i'm doing this for a few days, multiplying licence plate numbers while driving, etc. Suddenly i notice my blitz rating going up at FICS and ICC. Also, my rating over at CTS (chess tactics server). Could it be that the visualization skills necessary for mental math can also affect my chess playing ability? Also, why is it so many great players have math backgrounds (Lasker, Botvinnik, Andersson, etc). the best player in our club is a calculus teacher. I saw his chess library the other day. It was about eight books, all over ten years old. I have about fifty and he whips me constantly. I don't believe enough thought has been put into chess learning. I know that a lot of people (including me) believe that the study of tactics is 90% of chess, but perhaps this is not that tactics inherently makes you a better player, but that the constant dependence in accurate visualization improves that part of the brain involved in chess playing. Maybe the whole theory of "pattern recognition" is wrong. More important is the process of accurate visualization that does the trick. It may also apply to auditory recollection, as in musical reading and composition too, as chess, math and music seem to go together. Anyway, just a thought.
  2. Standard member wormwood
    If Theres Hell Below
    29 Jun '06 21:58
    there are studies about visual recollection by players of different strengths. and one thing that I remember, is that masters recollect far better the real positions, but give them a ramdom position and they'll do as bad as weaker players.

    not exactly the same thing as visualisation, but it shows that pattern recognition does matter. though there probably are other things as well...
  3. Subscriber AThousandYoung
    Gonzalo de Córdoba
    30 Jun '06 00:22
    Originally posted by wormwood
    there are studies about visual recollection by players of different strengths. and one thing that I remember, is that masters recollect far better the real positions, but give them a ramdom position and they'll do as bad as weaker players.

    not exactly the same thing as visualisation, but it shows that pattern recognition does matter. though there probably are other things as well...
    I suspect such masters can do this because they can replay the game in their minds from an earlier point that they found especially interesting.
  4. 30 Jun '06 15:03
    Originally posted by wormwood
    there are studies about visual recollection by players of different strengths. and one thing that I remember, is that masters recollect far better the real positions, but give them a ramdom position and they'll do as bad as weaker players.

    not exactly the same thing as visualisation, but it shows that pattern recognition does matter. though there probably are other things as well...
    I believe that that is definitely true. That's probably why Moro kicks butt consistently in the blind portion of Amber.
  5. 30 Jun '06 19:20
    Just read a little about Harry Pillsbury in 1800's. He didn't go to university, he worked for his father. One of his childhood friends said that in elementary school Pillsbury would do all the math in his head and just write down the answer. Nobody could figure out how he did it. I believe it was visualization. He may have been born with the talent, but he exercised it often and his powers of visualization were multiplied. This was before Pillsbury learned chess. Later, he became, not only one of the top world players, but also held records for blindfold play. According to the biographer, Jacques Pope, people were astounded during these exhibitions that Pillsbury would carry on normal conversations during the play. He claimed that it wasn't a problem because he could call up the exact position whenever the person made a move. Sometimes, for variety, Pillsbury would play chess and checkers with many opponents without sight of the board...while playing whist at a card table in another room. I believe Pope did an excellent job gathering the public material, from letters, newspaper articles and such, but there is very little of his personal life or psychology. It is common knowledge that he died of syphillis, probably contracted in St. Petersburg, from a house of prostitution and died at a very young age, before he had a chance to reach potential. One curious note, he got his start at the Brooklyn, NY Chess Club. Can anybody else recall another world class player who got his start at the Brooklyn Club?
  6. 30 Jun '06 20:41 / 1 edit
    Visualization is key.

    In order to force your opponent into positions he cannot control you must know the consequence of the moves you are making... and also, the moves your opponent makes... without visualization skills this can only be done with pattern recognition. I suspect this to be the difference between masters and grand masters.

    Edit: anything that enhances your visualization skills should also enhance your chess play... Math would probably work best though as it is more rigorous... or maybe speed reading as well.
  7. Standard member wormwood
    If Theres Hell Below
    30 Jun '06 21:02
    Originally posted by buddy2
    Just read a little about Harry Pillsbury in 1800's. ...
    sounds like he could've been a synesthete, meaning two or more of his senses being joined into one experience. synesthetes often have very good memory. -my ex was a synesthete, and she could remember dozens of pages of written text perfectly after reading it once. she had no memorization techniques, she just experienced the words naturally as visuals, which is one of the most common forms of synesthesia.
  8. 30 Jun '06 23:35
    Now, Emanuel Lasker, who had a plus score against Pillsbury, to my knowledge never played a blindfold game. Maybe he couldn't. Edward Lasker (no relative) claimed that Emanuel could never remember who he was, even though they met and had plenty of conversations in the past. Emanuel also thought that Pillsbury's demise was directly caused by his blindfold play--overexertion of the brain. He even had a major argument with Reti (whom he didn't like anyway) about the danger of blindfold chess affecting tournament chess negatively. So here we have two great masters, one with superb visualization skills and one who denigrates the use of visualization skills in blindfold chess. To add to the confusion, Laker was also a great mathemetician and friend of Einstein, who also played some chess.