The ability to quickly and accurately memorize chess positions (i.e. board vision), has long been recognized as one of the key attributes of strong players. The first systematic studies of this skill were made by the Dutch psychologist, and proficient amateur player, Adriaan de Groot. Since that time all chess coaches have included exercises to improve board vision (e.g. Dan Heisman’s article). (Note 1)
In this brief article I’d like to
introduce you to a simple freeware program called Chess Memory, developed by
Bill Jordan, which has helped me improve my board vision. (Note
The program is very easy to use: click Go
and a position (one piece larger on each subsequent click) appears – you
have ten seconds (longer times of 15, 20, 30, and 60 seconds are also
possible) to memorize it. The position vanishes and you rebuild it
using the piece set on the right. You then click Done (changed now
from Go) and you receive a percent score.
One Method of Using Chess Memory
Having had several years experience with this program, I’d like to present one way to effectively use it (doubtless, however, after some experience with it, you’ll be able to think up some of your own ways).
I like to use Chess Memory as a warm-up, at the very beginning of a study session. Using the 10 second time limit, I go thru ten to twenty positions; this will take less than ten minutes. This brief, relatively high-concentration, work serves as an excellent kick-start for my “chess muscles”.
Don’t stop here, however! You need to record your score, and have some way to obtain an overall calculation.
In this example, after ten positions, I reached level nine (nine pieces) with a total score of 983 (the average score of the ten positions). To combine these two scores, I devised the following simple formula:
(Level X 10) + (Total Score in Percent) = Z
Z÷ 2 = Final Score
90 + 98.3 = 188.3 ÷ 2 = 94.14
I write “10 positions, Level 9, TS 98.3 =
94.14” in my training log.
Questions to the Developer, Bill Jordan
1. Could you give use some background on why you created Chess Memory?
2. Have you gotten any feedback from users?
3. Do you plan to develop the program further?
4. What other chess training software have you created?
5. Any other comments you’d like to make?
1．On De Groots http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adriaan_de_Groot
For Heisman http://www.chesscafe.com/text/heisman29.pdf
2. Bill Jordan’s Homepage http://home.vicnet.net.au/~chess/programs.html
Visit Robert Tuohey's Past Pawns column, wherein he looks at "the discovery and exploration of the forgotten or obscure work that is, despite its anonymity, unquestionably beautiful... as you ponder the intricacies of that gem you have just stumbled upon, don’t you find yourself wondering about the personality, the human being, that created it? And what of the times that person lived in..."