Saturday, December 16, 2006

Thought Process Trilogy Volume III: Yoda Returns

I asked Heisman about his thoughts on the topic of thought processes in chess. He has written about it, so I knew he'd have an opinion. This will be the final post in my Thought Process Trilogy (see my previous two posts for the first two Tolkeinesque volumes).

Blue Devil Knight: Do GMs consciously go through an explicit step-by-step thought process, or is it something more appropriate for newer players?

Heisman: No GM goes through an explicit thought process. Imagine using an explicit thought process to help you ride a bike: "OK, left foot push forward, and now right, etc." To stop and think about how to do it makes you do it worse. You want to develop good thinking habits for use during a game, which means you ultimately will not consciously think about thinking.

On the other hand, you can't jump from using a bad thought process to a good thought process without working on it, and you can't work on it without thinking about it. This is where the explicit, step-by-step thought processes that people write out come in handy. A good time to work on your thought process is at home in exercises where you can practice getting it right so you don't have to think about it as much in games.

Once you have truly learned a good thought process you don't sit and consciously think 'Time to look for all the checks, captures, and threats.' You simply look for the checks captures and threats automatically, without thinking.

I was glad he used the bicycle example, as it reinforces the 'training wheel' analogy in the previous post.

Note I asked him the above question during his webcast of 'The Renaissance Man' this week, so the above is a rough transcription from the notes I took during his answer. To hear his longer unedited response, there is probably a replay of his show sometime this weekend (note I actually asked him two questions about thinking processes).


Anonymous Anonymous said...


Well, I don't know if I would call Heisman the Yoda of chess, but I do think he has a valid point.

12/17/2006 03:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

bravo! wonderfull. thank you.

... now off to an entire afternoon chopping vegetables, goumet soup day...

you blog is one that i continue to enjoy. gotta run, dk

12/17/2006 04:47:00 PM  
Blogger funkyfantom said...

Heisman is a strong player with a special gift for chess education, so I would take seriously anything he has to say. Jeremy Silman, too.
And of course the one and only Irving Chernev.

Everyman books has a bullpen of great chess educators- Sadler, Buckley and McDonald are the best in IMHO.

12/18/2006 04:07:00 PM  

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