Is chess a matter of understanding or memory?

Discuss anything you like about chess related matters in this forum.
Barry Sandercock
Posts: 1356
Joined: Tue Sep 11, 2012 10:52 am

Re: Is chess a matter of understanding or memory?

Post by Barry Sandercock » Fri Jun 13, 2014 11:28 am

A very good book for improving your tactical ability is 1000 Checkmate Combinations by Victor Henkin published by Batsford. If you work your way through this, by the time you are my age (83),you will be unbeatable.

David Robertson
Posts: 2238
Joined: Tue Apr 03, 2007 6:24 pm
Contact:

Re: Is chess a matter of understanding or memory?

Post by David Robertson » Fri Jun 13, 2014 1:18 pm

stevencarr wrote:Well, I have just finished going through all 10,000 combinations and my records show that I have hopefully memorised 87 percent of them. It was very hard work
Don't doubt it's been very hard work. Doubt rather more whether it's been productive work. If you've enjoyed it, fine. But if it's been a labour, you could be disappointed.
stevencarr wrote:I hope this work has a positive influence on my grading
And the disappointment may lie here. Your tactical alertness may have improved, or been restored. But your ability to generate appropriate positions may still be impaired (by lack of recent board experience)
stevencarr wrote:At age 56, it is all I can do to stop my grading falling each year

Nothing inevitable about this, certainly not at 56. There are several contributors to this forum, and many others too, of greater age whose grades are increasing. Freed from duties of work and family, they have time to study the game again. And it shows in their quality of play, and in their results.
stevencarr wrote:My sight of the board is very much slower than when I was a teen.
How do you know? Of course, you can't know with any precision. But you likely feel it. That doesn't make it inevitable. Board vision will decline if you rarely play; it will improve if you play frequently - OTB and online. The brain, and memory, do respond to stimulation. We can coax ourselves back to a state of 'youthful fitness' - if not entirely and forever, then certainly sufficient for improved performance and pleasure

Louise Sinclair
Posts: 258
Joined: Thu Nov 06, 2008 10:29 am
Location: London

Re: Is chess a matter of understanding or memory?

Post by Louise Sinclair » Fri Jul 04, 2014 3:36 pm

Understanding surely out weighs memorising. My husband is just coming up for 49. He has played since he was a teenager and is now achieving his highest rating.
Limits are often self imposed by lack of confidence.
You might very well think that ; I couldn't possibly comment.
' you turn if you want. The lady's not for turning'

Francis Fields
Posts: 127
Joined: Fri Apr 25, 2014 9:50 am
Location: Sunny

Re: Is chess a matter of understanding or memory?

Post by Francis Fields » Fri Jul 11, 2014 3:35 pm

Having been stuck in the 150/160 bracket for more years than I can remember I started studying tactics on a daily basis to 'improve my game'. Having had little succes with this I decide to consider a different quote 'Chess is ten games in one.'

I am now trying to work out which of the 'ten games' is letting me down.


Francis
"These four walls are closing in. Look at the mess you put me in." Lyric from a Rainbow song taken from an 18th century poem.

User avatar
Matthew Webb
Posts: 59
Joined: Thu Jan 05, 2012 11:17 am
Location: London

Re: Is chess a matter of understanding or memory?

Post by Matthew Webb » Tue Jul 15, 2014 9:58 am

Louise Sinclair wrote:Limits are often self imposed by lack of confidence.
I absolutely agree with this statement.

My own approach to chess in the last 2 years has been completely different to that of the previous 10, confidence has played a huge part in this; my focus, my vision for creative ideas and my overall desire to win at the board has been much greater than my opponents which seemingly makes a massive difference!

I often wonder about the players who face Magnus Carlsen and what psychological edge he has gained over them even before they sit at the board. Yes Magnus is a phenomenal player but what I think gives him his edge is his relentless desire to win from any position. His other super grandmaster opponents can't just breathe a sigh of relief reaching a theoretically drawn ending which they may or may not have glanced at many years ago, they have to prove it move after move after move! Nothing can be more frustrating than getting out played in a position you know full well is drawn. Each time Magnus wins one of these types of games his confidence must increase massively making his desire to repeat the process in the next game even greater.

MartinCarpenter
Posts: 2527
Joined: Tue May 24, 2011 10:58 am

Re: Is chess a matter of understanding or memory?

Post by MartinCarpenter » Tue Jul 15, 2014 12:19 pm

Still waiting to see what'll happen when you finally lose a game :)

Improvement is incredibly hard partially because such a large amount of performance is governed by other factors which are often (practically at least) outside peoples control.

User avatar
Matthew Webb
Posts: 59
Joined: Thu Jan 05, 2012 11:17 am
Location: London

Re: Is chess a matter of understanding or memory?

Post by Matthew Webb » Tue Jul 15, 2014 1:07 pm

MartinCarpenter wrote:Still waiting to see what'll happen when you finally lose a game :)
I will retire immediately and protect my superficial rating of course :-)

In all honesty though I've had quite a big chunk of luck throughout the season, I blundered a whole piece in the last match of the Bradford League against Kevin Winter, he simply concluded I was sacking the piece for quick development and a big initiative so, declined it - amazingly enough! My morning game of the Calderdale Congress round 4 I was getting absolutely crushed by Daniel Sullivan but again he tried to avoid tactical complications and I was just about able to muster a caveman like king side attack to turn it around.

It helps when you're simply enjoying playing and feel unrestricted when you're looking at the board, "oh that looks interesting" and going for it!
Last edited by Matthew Webb on Tue Jul 15, 2014 2:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Lewis Martin
Posts: 296
Joined: Wed May 28, 2014 11:45 am

Re: Is chess a matter of understanding or memory?

Post by Lewis Martin » Tue Jul 15, 2014 1:59 pm

Matthew Webb wrote: It helps when you're simply enjoying playing and feel unrestricted when you looking at the board, "oh that looks interesting" and going for it!
That is also an approach that I have adopted since starting at university with chess. I reached a decisive point when I left school whether to actually just not bother with chess and give up or actually work at it a bit more and to try and enjoy it as much as I can. Of course, if you don't enjoy your hobby what's the point?!

As for the "that looks interesting", it depends on my mood and how I evaluate it! I would like to believe that I am getting better at judging the speculative tries, but of course that only comes with experience and hurt of losing any games you tried risk-taking. Which is why it helps so much if you play it to enjoy it, because after the game, instead of being down about it, you can have a good laugh about it with your opponent, about what a ridiculous idea it was!

Louise Sinclair
Posts: 258
Joined: Thu Nov 06, 2008 10:29 am
Location: London

Re: Is chess a matter of understanding or memory?

Post by Louise Sinclair » Tue Jul 15, 2014 4:28 pm

Killer instinct is worth it's weight in gold whenever a person wants to excell at anything. Luck favours the player who keeps confident and retains an open mind when examining a position.
Louise
You might very well think that ; I couldn't possibly comment.
' you turn if you want. The lady's not for turning'

MartinCarpenter
Posts: 2527
Joined: Tue May 24, 2011 10:58 am

Re: Is chess a matter of understanding or memory?

Post by MartinCarpenter » Thu Jul 17, 2014 10:48 am

Killer instinct actually not that massive a thing in chess, except at very high levels. After all if you're 'due' to win 1/3 rd of your games a season then even drawing every single one instead is still 'only' -16 or so grading points. A big gap but normal strength differences are that large anyway.

Of course even the most draw happy people tend to win some games! Some must be ~-10 vs the norm for killer instinct though. I guess I might be -5 myself in a normal year.

Oh, if anyone is wondering what me/Matty were joking about slightly, his form since coming back this season has been quite incredible, as per this bit he put up at Yorkshire chess. http://yorkshirechess.org/looks-interesting-play/

Amusingly massive efforts into improvement but no results, then this after giving up on trying, and even the game for a bit. Shows how very hard it is to predict! Still actually hard to tell how much of this is going to be sustained and how much is a pile up of confidence/luck etc. Always a very dangerous sort of player, who you'd think might be able to do this sort of thing.

Whatever it is, its rather glorious :)

Francis Fields
Posts: 127
Joined: Fri Apr 25, 2014 9:50 am
Location: Sunny

Re: Is chess a matter of understanding or memory?

Post by Francis Fields » Wed Jul 23, 2014 1:08 pm

The question of memory goes directly with understanding. Knowing an endgame that was studied years ago and understood to be a draw has to be remembered correctly as well.

This does not lead to an improvement in chess, in my view, as you are only 'not recalling.' The most interesting book that I have read on chess is 'The road to chess improvement' by Alex Yermolinsky. Simply because understanding of ourselves is important; how we learn, what we remember, and the motivation for getting better.
"These four walls are closing in. Look at the mess you put me in." Lyric from a Rainbow song taken from an 18th century poem.

stevencarr

Re: Is chess a matter of understanding or memory?

Post by stevencarr » Wed Aug 06, 2014 10:33 pm

The work put in to trying to memorise 10,000 combinations seems to have paid off in terms of an increase in strength.

This week I drew pretty easily with a 209 and a 208. I always used to struggle a lot against 200+ players.

The games can be found at http://from150to200.blogspot.co.uk

stevencarr

Re: Is chess a matter of understanding or memory?

Post by stevencarr » Wed Jun 24, 2015 11:14 pm

So, is improvement possible for older players?

I am almost 58 , and my last 15 games have been at an average 204 grading, the highest grading I have ever had.

I did have a rating of 157 a few years ago. The moral seems to be that if you work hard at chess, you can improve, however old you may be.

Roger de Coverly
Posts: 18521
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:51 pm

Re: Is chess a matter of understanding or memory?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Jun 24, 2015 11:51 pm

stevencarr wrote:The moral seems to be that if you work hard at chess, you can improve, however old you may be.
I think you also have to be a sceptic to those who want to sell you their book. Forgetting the advocacy of Niemzowitsch and for that matter Keene and other hack authors in favour of what top GMs and computer engines consider plausible moves has to help.

With enough experience, the difference between an amateur player (in the sense that everyone under 200 ECF is amateur) and a "average" IM or GM is that they will find the correct move 19 times out of 20, whereas you you find it 15 to 18 out of 20.

David Pardoe
Posts: 1221
Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2007 11:29 pm
Location: NORTH WEST

Re: Is chess a matter of understanding or memory?

Post by David Pardoe » Thu Jun 25, 2015 9:25 am

MartinCarpenter wrote:Still waiting to see what'll happen when you finally lose a game :)

Improvement is incredibly hard partially because such a large amount of performance is governed by other factors which are often (practically at least) outside peoples control.
Yes, factors outside your control can certainly play a part... like perhaps, when your opponent appears at the board, half way through the evening, munching loudly on a large packet of `Crinkle crisps`, just at a key point perhaps. How annoying some of these antics can be.
Such behaviour should perhaps be dealt with as a `mobile incident`...with the event triggering immediate automatic loss..??
Or the other case, where your opponent has a bad cold, and deals out death by germ warfare, coughing and spluttering the whole night.

The Karma can be upset by all sorts of issues... eg, some `clock phobias` can kick in at times.....grading phobias can also be a pain.....not to mention `opponent phobias`...ie, that jinks opponent who you can somehow never seem to beat.
Yes, `opening phobias`, team phobias, club phobias/venue phobias.....you name it ...this baggage can be distracting.

But it certainly helps to be in the right frame of mind...and if you`re enjoying your game the whole occasion can be lifted.
Those with memory skills and good opening knowledge, tactical ability, strategic play, endgame play... etc can all benefit from these factors...a game can swing round at different stages, and the good old fashioned oversight can turn any game in an instant.
BRING BACK THE BCF

Post Reply