Thursday, June 21, 2007

Board visualization: I suck rotten salmonilla-marinated eggs

This is a rambling search for truth in the tradition of temposchlucker.

I have been working on visualizing the board 'blindfold.' I realized, as soon as I started trying to visualize positions with pieces, that I can't even visualize the bloody board. Since the board is broken up into four identical quadrants (see Figure A) I have been trying to simply visualize such quadrants with a high degree of accuracy.

Each quadrant has a dark 'forward slash' long diagonal, a light 'backward slash' diagonal, with two mini-diagonals of length two running parallel to the long diagonals, hugging the corners of each quadrant (Figure B). However, Figure B is a somewhat unnatural way to view things. Figure C shows a more natural perspective, highlighting all the light squares (the long diagonal and the two corner-huggers). However, this isn't enough to visualize the white diagonals perpendicular to the long white diagonal, which are shown in Figure D.

Integrating Figures C and D (Figure E) yields the most complete image of the light squares which will be useful to be able to visualize in my sleep: a rectangle bounds the six squares perpendicular to the long diagonal, which is a lone line in a world of rectangles.

This general picture can be seen in the following figure that illustrates the diagonal-rectangles for all the squares on the full board.

And it turns out this is basically the perspective on the board that is advocated at this site, which has a useful discussion of the mathematical properties of these rectangles.

If I suck at visualizing the raw board (partly because in games I use the board as an external memory source rather than commit it to memory), how long before I can play blindfold chess?

And the above is itself a sort of limited view of the board. It shows the board from the point of view of bishops and a third of a queen (i.e., the bishop aspect of the queen's movement). Though I assume once I have the above down, visualizing straight lines should be easy.


Blogger hisbestfriend said...


I don't think it is like that at all, but maybe I am odd. I think that it is just plain ol' symbolism and symbolism conversion.

This is a lot more akin to playing an instrument than something nearly as complicated.

You can play be ear. You can be taught things by rote. You can be shown things. And you can cheat by working out the answer. FACE, Every Good Boy Does Fine, ABCDEFGH, 12345678. But each of these actually gets in the way of symbolic understanding. Doesn't mean that you aren't a fine musician, you are just missing a skill.

I think the skill here can be learned by playing other peoples music, and writing your own. Oops. I mean chess moves, not music. What this will help with is symbolization. You will be able to accurately place and understand the scores just by looking at them. Then you will be able to mix symbolization with imagination, and you will be able to play blindfold chess. Just like playing an instrument while not holding it.

All this other stuff is like learning how to read, by better understanding fonts.

But then again, I may be wrong here.

6/21/2007 07:08:00 PM  
Blogger BlunderProne said...

A technique I use to build up my blindfold play is to take fritz to a really DUMB level ( handicap or something) and shrink hte board so I don't see it. I enter teh moves in text and play at that level until I can beat it blindfold consistently. Then I move it up a level.

I found this works for me. I play my kids blindfold on occasion and piss them off when I win. I do it as a "parlor" trick when relatives visit. It's been an effective practice for me.

As for the squares... I still find myself going " Let's see, white on the lower right... and counting up and down. Its a good exercise. I "know" some of hte squares whether they are light or dark.

Keep at it.


6/21/2007 07:25:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

HBF: I can calculate out squares, but it takes me a pretty long time. I want it to be fast like 7x9.

BP: that sounds cool. How do you enter moves via the keyboard in Fritz?

6/21/2007 09:00:00 PM  
Blogger The retired pawn said...

After reading book by Lev Alburt, where he suggests that you know the chess board without looking, I made flash cards. One set had the square on one side and the color on the other. The next set was for diagonals with the same sort of set up, but with the added squares to the answer. It worked well for this limited purpose. I was able the tell you the color of squares with a second of the square being called. The diagonals were a bit harder. I think it is useful because I don't have to actually look at the board to calculate. I only need to take in the board as a whole picture and occasionally refresh. It does keep your opponent guessing when playing OTB. I never progressed to blind.

6/21/2007 09:31:00 PM  
Blogger sciurus said...

If you are looking for a training tool for blindfold chess, take a look at the Chess Visualization Trainer. The java program trains you to visualize the board, simple positions, etc. up to playing with one quadrant covered. Fun thing but way over my head ;-)

6/21/2007 10:18:00 PM  
Blogger Grandpatzer said...

Try playing simple endgames in your head. e.g. W: Pe2, Ke1 vs. B: Ke8. Try to visualize the colors. I used to do this a lot; it's something I should do more.

I'll have to learn how to enter moves into fritz via text. Or, I suppose I could do that with Crafty if I could dumb it down.

In some ways board visualization is a bit easier during the opening since you have certain attachments to certain squares. For example, in the French as black my e6/d5 pawns are on dark squares and trap my light bishop at c8. If I have to cheat, my reference points for counting are the 4 corners (a1/h8 dark, a8/h1 light), the four center squares, and remembering d1/d8 are the same colours as the queens, e1/e8 the opposite colour of the kings.

6/21/2007 10:24:00 PM  
Blogger BlunderProne said...

You can enter moves in Fritz using source destination in Fritz 10. In Firtz 8 I used to be able to enter moves like Nf3 etc.. but the Bishop was special.... I have to load Fritz 8 to find out what I used to enter a Bishop ( I think it might have been L).

6/21/2007 10:56:00 PM  
Blogger Temposchlucker said...

Almost everybody has this poor boardvision. You can even play blindfold with such poor image of the board.

But a better picture is preferable of course. I think you are on the right track. It is easy to spot the rows and files, since we are used to rows and columns all our life.

Of the diagonals we are only familiar with the long diagonals. So it's good to see the board from the perspective of the bishop (which has the symbol L in both dutch and german)

I'm doing this training myself at the moment. I expect that the next step is to become familiar with all the routes of the knight, which is quite a different animal. Koltanowski, world recordholder of simultaneous blindfold chess, was known for his blindfold knightroutes.

6/21/2007 11:21:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Scirius: yes, and I mentioned a couple of others here.

6/21/2007 11:46:00 PM  
Blogger Pawn Shaman said...

I completely agree with hisbestfriend. This type of training is a more artistic than logical type of cognition. It forces a player to think in new ways and that is its greatest benefit. On a lighter note, I think you rediscovered argyle.

6/22/2007 09:12:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

pawn shaman: lmao!

6/22/2007 10:23:00 AM  

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