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I am, to be honest, really good at adding and multiplying numbers in my head. Maybe I can do this thing.
Just found that one of the shared decks on anki flashcards, has a deck for learning the colours of the squares. Just in case you don't have someone willing to test your visualisation. The program is free to download and use..... https://ankiweb.net
@mythas wow you just nailed it on the head for me, thank you so much! Your exercise focuses more on pure visualisation than just counting the letters and numbers, also very creative.
For working on the diagonals I have been playing "Bishop pong" in my head. Start with an imaginary bishop on any perimeter square then send it down a diagonal and say the next perimeter square it hits, then bounce it of the edge as if it were a ball and keep going around the board till its stuck in your head (ex. a2 -> g8 -> h7 -> b1 -> a2 ... ). Then move to a new start square and repeat.
To make it harder you can start putting imaginary wall across ranks or files to limit the movement of the piece (eg. have a wall along the g file so a bishop on a2 goes a2 -> f7 -> e8 -> a4 -> d1 -> f3 -> a8 -> then back the way it came).
Playing this game has helped me a lot more than just reciting diagonals as the simple add/subtract 1 from each coordinate seems more like a counting exercise than a visualization one.
Whatever you're comfortable with Dark_Passanger
I don't think it's that important at first, as long as you are building the muscles!
I think this was the first video I watched on chess.com. It's a good way to start off
Danny, when you are just starting working on the visualization - should you do it with your eyes open or closed? Does it make a difference? When you visualize the board, do you see the whole board, or just a certain part of the board? Also, when you are seeing the board - is it a 2d board, or a 3d board? Lol, not sure if what I'm asking makes sense to anyone.
You guys have all provided such amazing, in depth, thoughtful feedback! I need to make another video with some of the ideas that have been given here !!!
You can train and use this as your training partner for visualization skills
For another way to make the intangible, tangible, you can try this method too. It worked for me:
Thought I'd share a few tidbits that seem to help me learn to visualize the board, as my brain is more "language" oriented and less "picture" oriented. In other words, I'll do better with a set of instructions written in English than I will with a set of instructions mainly consisting of diagrams. I suspect there are others like me, so I thought I'd share. Here goes:
The a, c, e, and g files are identical (dark square on first rank, light square on the second, etc.), as are the b, d, f, and h files. Likewise, the odd ranks (1, 3, 5, and 7) are all identical, as are the even ranks.
Thus, one can arrange the squares into four groups: One) a, c, e, g odd (e.g. a1, c3, e5, g7) squares, which are all dark; Two) b, d, f, h odd squares, which are all light; Three) a, c, e, g even squares, which are all light; and Four) b, d, f, h even squares, which are all dark.
A corresponding, or "brother" square will always be in the group that is most different from the original square's group. For example, the corresponding square to a1 (in the a, c, e, g odd group) is h8 (in the b, d, f, g even group) Corresponding squares to those in the a, c, e, g even group will always be in the b, d, f, h odd group.
It also helps me to think of the 64-square board as a set of four identical 16-square boards, the first little board, bottom left, is bounded by a1, a4, d1, and d4, the second one, upper left, is bounded by a5, a8, d5, and d8, the third one, bottom right, is bounded by e1, e4, h1, and h4, and the last one is, well, you know. In each of these smaller (16 square) boards, the bottom left and upper right corner squares are dark, and the upper left and bottom right corner squares are light.
Recognizing these relationships helps me to learn to see the board in the first place, so that I can get better at knowing the squares and seeing the board in my mind's eye without thinking. I don't focus on these things when I'm trying to visualize and calculate chess moves.
You folks who learn better with pictures and images will probably wonder what I've been smoking, but I hope these ramblings are helpful to somebody whose learning style might be similar to mine. If not, please forgive me for wasting your time.
And thanks to Danny Rensch for a couple of terrific visualization videos!
I wrote a programm for mac and win that gives you a square and after clicking a button shows the colour, brother square and the diagonal squares its connected to. So no need for anyone to quiz you.
I'm happy to send it to you. Just message me with your email adress and the system you would use (mac or win) it on.
I think it's more likely that people are only cognizant of oblique forces in their minds eye not the actual pieces. so for example if a rook is on a certain square, in their head this may be represented as 4 lines of "force" emanating from that square with these lines of "force" interacting with other "forces" from other pieces and on and on and on.
christopher chablis (of "invisible gorilla" fame (and not to be confused with the drag queen lady chablis, although some say...well that's off topic)) of union college did some research and experimentation with chess (involving GM Wolff) for his harvard phd dissertation. coming up with something he termed "the mental cartoon hypothesis" you can find it on his website. people interested in this topic might find that very revealing.
@Peter-Pepper - yes the idea is to see the board in your minds eye as clearly as possible and not invent some meaningless mathematical trick. Afterall the whole point is to be able to get to a situation where you can calculate variations and keep track of
a) where the pieces are and
b) keep track of what squares they control. and
c) keep track of the boards pathways that may open up such as diagonals, ranks and files.
Then you can see where the pieces can move to safely or otherwise.
The secret with visualisation training is to do a little and often always trying to push your boundary a little bit further. The brain is like a muscle and what is difficult now will be easy in a few months if you do regular workouts. It's like learning to play a new piece on the piano. At first your fingers find it difficult but after a little practice they find it easy.
In terms of visualisation, it is not the length of the variation that makes it difficult but the number of pieces that have moved. The more pieces that have moved the more difficult it becomes. I also find that the brain only has a certain working memory and so it makes sense to visualise groups of pieces (such as castled king with pawns in front and stuff like that.) This breaks the position into maybe 4,5 or 6 chunks which you can then piece together in your minds eye. With practice you can piece the position together very quickly. Whenever you train (or play) focus hard on seeing the picture in your head and it will come. And when you have those moments of clarity that would have been difficult for you before you get satisfaction and start sensing an improvement in your play. Good luck.
Danny, I'm trying to better understand the motivation for focusing on identifying each square's brother/corresponding square. In an earlier comment, you seemed to explain one motivation to be, I'll paraphrase: so you won't be confused by a board's coordinate markings if the white pieces are set up on ranks 7 and 8, rather than 1 and 2. But I'm guessing there's a more-substantive rationale you have in mind for focusing on corresponding squares. However, I can't think what it is. Any ideas?
Great video! These are very helpful exercises. You're breaking a complex task into manageable components that can be focused on one at a time. Great pedagogy!
"Also, Aron or Danny or someone who has experience of this might be able to help me - with regards to learning whether each square is light or dark, do you attempt to "see" the square on a board in your mind's eye when doing this exercise, or do you simply know the colour for each square, like you know your multiplication tables? It's both! You do it until you have it memorized (like basic multiplication tables or "sight words" for young kids, and then you should be able to see it... Think of it in a way that makes sense to your brain, and do it!"
I'm not sure about this. To gain proper visualisation benefit, I think the process has to be:
1. Hear the algebraic square reference; then
2. Locate that square on an imaginary chess board in your mind; then
3. "See" what colour that square is.
Merely remembering that the answer to "d4" is "dark" as a memory trick feels meaningless; like a kid reciting multiplication tables without having any understanding of numbers, or remembering that Paris is the capital of France without knowing anything about either place or being able to imagine them on a map.
As a separate question, does knowing the colour of a square serve any purpose other than confirming that you have located it correctly on the imaginary chess board in your mind? The square colours are of course completely arbitrary; it would make little difference if the light squares were blue and the dark squares were green, or vice versa, as long as they were in the same checked pattern. Hence, most chess software allows you to completely customise your board colours.
Thanks, i will give this a shot:)
I want to say that having a mathematical approach to aid developing visualisation of the board helps greatly, but we have to make sure not to lose sight of our goal/endgame - to be able to SEE the chessboard, or at least parts of it one at a time, in the minds eye.
Example, I had problems with the way knight forks looked on the board. I knew pieces had to be on the same color before a knight could attack them on a square of the opposite color, but I found that e.g. Ke8 and Qc6 could not be forked.
So I came up with the 6 forms of knight forks (which I think I'll patent :) , don't know if anyone has bothered noticing this idea before) and had those down pat, now I don't even think in terms of that at all. I visualised the dimensions and corner squares of 6 rectangles, like small chunks of the chessboard where forkable pieces specifically had to be (they happen to be squares a knight can get to in 2 moves.)
1 by 3 strip e.g. Ne2+ of white's castled king g1 and Qg3 (the g1g2g3 strip)
1 by 5 strip e.g. Nc7+ of black's Ra8 and Ke8 in some openings.
2 by 2 (Na5/Nd2 forking b3 and c4)
2 by 4 (this one took me a while to get used to, it's not ideally symmetrical like the others... Ne5/Nf2 attacking d3 and g4)
4 by 4 (Nc4/Nd3 attacks b2 and e5)
3 by 5 (*the only form where a knight attacks from one square only, not two e.g. Nb3 is the only one square a1 and c5 can be attacked by a knight.)
Anyway, I found that I could use this idea to fill up gaps in visualising the board, so if I wanted to 'see' c2 square, I just realised I could imagine a 3 by 2 rectangle from the a1 (dark) corner and easily 'see' it as a light square! Same for b3 (the 2 by 3 here is standing up on the '2' side.) So my brain not only identifies the square, complete with color, it fills in some or all of the other squares in the rectangular chunks I imagine! You can play around with this concept until you have the whole board down (the entire 8 by 8, is it possible?) e.g. f5 is a 3 by 5 from h1 (light), therefore it is light! So is f1, f3, h5, h3, g2, g4!
So, this is how I started slowly but surely truly seeing the board and ended up discarding all that "e4, well, e=5, then +4 = odd + even = 9 = odd = light."
Corresponding squares will then be easy e.g b3 = g6, both 2 by 3 from either dark corners a1/h8, so both are light squares.
I'm curious, does anyone see the board in chunks this way, or similarly? Is it possible to see the whole 8 by 8 at once?
Let me see what you guys think.
Just my one cent.
Thanks all for the continued nice comments here.
@UnscholarlyMate - http://grab.by/qryi
Look to the right side of all videos! WE have related links always
Awesome video, so helpful, thanks a lot!
von IM Daniel Rensch
Today Chess.com members take their first steps toward achieving "full board nirvana"! IM Rensch provides the critical first steps chess players must take in order to establish strong visualization skills and calculating abilities. If they follow Danny's training exercises, Beginner and Intermediate players will learn how to keep track of all the details of the board in their head, and have the strong foundation needed to master the board and play Blindfold Chess.
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IM Daniel Rensch
With numerous "scholastic chess accomplishments" to boast of, both as a player and a coach, Danny has been a "chess professional" since his early teens. He was ranked in the Top 10 for his age in the U.S. every year from the age of 12 - 21years old, and at one point he was the highest rated 19-year old in the country. He earned the IM title at age 23. A part owner and full time Staff Member for Chess.com LLC, Danny is our Vice President of Content and Professional Operations, managing the products and "team of contributors" you enjoy here, as well as for our scholastic extension site, ChessKid.com.
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