Monday, January 15, 2007

Guided pattern recognition: example

About 80% of people who see the following picture and look for a pattern, don't immediately see one:

Before reading on, try to see the pattern hidden in the image.

Let me give you a hint: "DOG". That will reveal the pattern to about half of those who didn't see it the first time. Here's another hint: "Dog on right-hand side of the image." Now almost everyone will get it. Finally, "Picture of an entire dalmation with head near the middle of the image, facing to the left, sniffing at the ground. There is a tree-shadow in the upper left quadrant, and leaves on the ground." Now everyone should get it. One cool thing is, once you get it, you cannot look at the image without seeing that dalmation (this is itself a fact rich with psychological implications that are the object of study by the professionals: top-down influence on perception of the world for one). Hence, those of you who have seen this before probably saw the dalmation instantly.

When I look at a chess position, very often tactics don't pop out at me. However, after giving myself a hint "Queen and rook are in a straight line" (suggesting pin or skewer), or "Enemy queen has only one escape square" (suggesting a trap), potential tactical moves then pop out at me. The difference between chess and the dalmation example is that I have to provide myself with the hints, looking for board patterns that suggest a tactic might be present (the so-called seeds of tactical destruction). Luckily this is pretty easy to do. Of course, I also have to check to make sure the tactical shot can't be met with a strong defense. This active, self-cued pattern recognition is a powerful technique.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

So I'm the only one who sees a Sherman tank in it? Hmm.

1/15/2007 06:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here Spot!

Yeah... during a game, all i see is spots.... blind spots!

1/15/2007 08:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Never seen the picture before, but i saw the pattern almost instantly :-)

Not only the patern, i also made out the dalmatian and the sniffing on the groud part :-)

What does that say about my brain? You work with brains, right? Please tell me i'm special :-)

1/16/2007 05:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe we should go MDLM over pictures like that :-)

1/16/2007 05:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got everything in the picture instantly but I'm more interested in what you said about giving yourself clues. Do you do this in Blitz?

1/17/2007 12:27:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Jim: I don't usually do it with blitz. What's happening, though, is I am looking for these cues less consciously and it is becoming more automatic with practice. The goal of any thought process in my opinion now: practice it consciously on my own time until it becomes automatic: if I have to think about such things during a game, rather than just doing them, then I haven't really learned the thought process. So during real games, I don't worry too much about the thought process, especially during blitz games. After long games I go over games slowly and work on my thought process then.

1/17/2007 01:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

tempo saw a tank. well, i saw an eastern european woman in a sun dress.

but, really, its like that little bishop on the diagonal, when the queen parks in front, and bam, you or your opponent are suddenly dead, and the game is over. we are not used to looking regularly for those long diagonals. now Ive learned to watch for them, or, alternately, at once steal them.

1/23/2007 02:46:00 PM  

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