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 Chess Memory: How To Get It

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 2)

Chess Memory

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?

I was interested in De Groot’s chess memory experiments and wanted to create a computer program that was similar.

2. Have you gotten any feedback from users?

Yes.  One user says it helped him to prepare for the qualifying test for Mensa.

3. Do you plan to develop the program further?

Not at this stage as it is a free program.

4. What other chess training software have you created?

I have created quite a few.  Information is available on my website.

5. Any other comments you’d like to make?

I have a somewhat similar program called Chess Aptitude which is also free.

Visithttp://home.vicnet.net.au/~chess/programs.html.

Notes

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..."