So, now based upon the recommendation from this question, How do I learn to understand the middlegame?, I bought how to Reassess Your Chess. It's pretty interesting, but I am struggling some with visualizing the analysis.

I am used to some analysis, as I went through the course on chesstactics.org. However, this is usually only 2-4 moves long and doesn't generally include other variations.

Just getting through the first chapter took me a couple of hours. After each move I had to stop, visualize, consider, read the next move, stop, visualize, consider. It's slow moving. I can do it, but I am not very good at it, and I forget what he is talking about by the time I get through the analysis.

Is there a good way to learn to be able to read this notation and "see" it without having to just pull out a board?

  • You might find this question and its answers to be of use: chess.stackexchange.com/q/329/167
    – ETD
    Commented Aug 1, 2012 at 18:59
  • The board sight will come over time. Fun fact: Nimzowitsch even suggested using two boards for analysis: one for main line and second for studying variations. Commented Aug 2, 2012 at 12:06
  • I just want to mention to anyone coming to this question in the future that I suggested they add this to the features of chess.com and they added it. chess.com/vision
    – Jeff Davis
    Commented Apr 2, 2021 at 20:38

2 Answers 2


I think that improving your analysis and visualization skills is very important. I posted a question on this topic recently as well (How can one improve their over-the-board analysis skills?).

But your question is more specific and I think you need to NOT try and study the Reassess Your Chess book in your head. The material he covers is too complex to be followed mentally for a class player. Also, because your visualization skills are not well developed you are going to waste far too much time and energy on firming up the image of the board and not be able to dedicate enough of your mental CPU to actually digesting the ideas in the book.

Notice that I use the Chess Success book in my visualization training. McDonald's book has diagrams every 5 to 8 moves and his analysis is very direct with shallow trees. It's really a great tool for doing visualization training. And even though I am fully able to follow the moves in this book and accurately draw the images I still go over each game with his analysis using a board after I do my training so that I am certain I have understood everything he has said.

You need to separate the idea of study and training. When you are studying a book like Silman's or Pachman's you need a physical chess board and a computer board as well to get the full benefit. Those types of books are for study. Use something simpler for visualization training.

Here is some advice from USCF Life Master A.J. Goldsby on how to study a chess book (from his Training Program page).

Many people think studying a chess book can be done by reading and occasionally looking at the diagrams. Nothing could be further from the truth!

The only correct way to study a chess book requires AT LEAST one chess set. And a good little analysis set on the side. Maybe a magnetic set to boot.

Basically, to really get any real instruction from ANY chess book, you must set up the position and play through the example. (More than once.) NEVER (!) (Even if you can play blindfold chess like me!!); think you can follow a series of moves in your head. Set up your board and play through every example and every single variation!

When I study, I often set up a chess board on my table. I have a little peg set off to one side, that I keep the current position on. And I also usually utilize one magnetic set. I play over every single move, line and variation. Often I will question a line, and spend a lot of time analyzing lines the author may not have even looked at. (As a Master, I have an obligation to try to find as many mistakes in analysis as I can. And on top of all this, if it is a very complicated game, I more often than not will have the position set up on at least one chess computer, analyzing the game and the variations.)

Even though we live in a very digital age I think it is important to use a real board as well as to keep another board with the current position so that you can quickly go back to the original position and consider it at the same time as you are looking at another position for analysis on your main board.

  • Based on the question mentioned in Robert's answer, I have started using this site: chesseye.alexander-fleischer.de
    – xaisoft
    Commented Aug 1, 2012 at 15:59
  • Ok. Believe it or not, being very millennial and having limited space in my house, I would prefer to use software over a physical board. I have Fritz. I suppose I can just use "set up a position" and infinite analysis for this sort of thing?
    – Jeff Davis
    Commented Aug 1, 2012 at 16:18
  • I know what you mean. For the most part that will likely be fine. If you have an Android device Shredder is pretty good on the go. But if your goal is to improve at tournament chess, I would say buck up and get a tournament set to analyze with. IMO, the tactile nature of moving the pieces and the geometry of a real board can really enhance your learning. Commented Aug 1, 2012 at 23:10
  • I have a Kindle fire, so I am going to use this: amazon.com/gp/product/B006L9Y2FS/ref=mas_ty, but still, I will be "setting up the board" rather than doing it in my head. Thanks!
    – Jeff Davis
    Commented Aug 2, 2012 at 23:01
  • @Jeff Davis, I added a quote regarding the "only correct way to study a chess book." Commented Aug 3, 2012 at 12:44

It's a good idea to train visualization.

A good start should be to train the coordinates till you can name any square in a second - without even looking at the numbers and letters on the sides. It's not hard if you train it with the board coordinates trainer.


  • Hi Louis, welcome to the site. Please take a look at the FAQ section about self promotion. Also, in general, answers with just links are generally discouraged, so anything else you can add to the answer is always great (images, descriptions, etc.). I do like the trainer, it seems useful for learning the squares without much effort.
    – Andrew
    Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 17:13

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