Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Importance Of Visualisation

Visualisation is a very important technique that every chess player must grasp if he/she is to improve.

The ability to not just transfer ideas that you see in 2 dimensions - be it on a computer screen or from a book and able to visualise it in 3 dimensions is an important skill.

How good are your visualisation skills?

A very good way to tell is to setup a set of 10 puzzles (that are hard for you at your current level) to do every day. Set up the puzzle in the chess board. Now time yourself in 5 minutes for each puzzle.

Record how fast you can come up with the different variations to the puzzle. What you considered, what you did discard. Put your thoughts to paper. If you find the winning solution, record the time at which you got the solution.

Once the 10 puzzles are finished, now pick another set of 10 puzzles and work on them on the computer screen.

Again time yourself for 5 minutes and work out the variations as well as the depth of your calculations. And put them to paper as you did earlier.

Do this for 1 week.

The idea behind this is not to achieve the answers but to look at what you've written down.

If you're like me, (yes, I do have a visualisation problem), you will notice that not only do you calculate more variations in the same amount of time when seeing it in 2 dimensions but you also notice the depths of your variations tends to stretch further and you arrive at the solution quicker.

I know how tedious and cumbersome it is to have to constantly setup the board for each puzzle but unfortunately, IMHO this is the only way to improve if your visualisation skills are not up to par.

Remember: the greatest enemy in chess is not your opponent. It is yourself.

The famous Chinese was strategist Tsun Tze once said,"Know yourself, so that when you fight 100 battles, you will win 100 battles."

PS: Hmmm.... I'm starting to sound like a fortune cookie.


  1. Great idea! I've never heard this before. Maybe once scool is don...

  2. It sounds like an interesting exercise. I've always felt that what I see on the computer is not as clear as what I see on a 3-D board. That's one of the main reasons I don't play much computer chess.

    I know I'm my worst enemy! If I were general of my army I put myself on trial for aiding and abetting the enemy. My mind is constantly committing treason against me.

  3. It works both ways. Ruy Lopez had some great advise for hindering your opponent's visualization: "Place the board so that the sun is in your opponent's eyes."

  4. It's a 2-D game; 64 squares, and what piece or pawn or not is on them, that is all. If 3-D is a problem, IMHO, the board/piece set probably sucks in dimension/proportion.

    When I play it in my head I visualize the squares and simply remember what is on them. If there is impedance mismatch, that is unfortunately part of the game. My heart doesn't beat fast when I am studying either, and my opponent makes no sounds/comments/body-language at home, etc.