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Recently, Timur Gareyev displayed tremendous prowness by playing many boards blindfolded. What is the best strategy to visualize each and every board? I already know the basics, like splitting the board into 4 parts, adopting different techniques for each stage of the game (opening, middlegame, and endgame), trying to visualize the board, and recognizing patterns or ideas.

How do I scale it up for many boards?

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    Related: Best opening in blind simultaneous chess – Glorfindel Jul 25 '18 at 6:45
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    IMHO , the top GM's have astounding memory to visualize the pieces and squares in chess board . Its a combination of ability of memory and visualization i think . Not a common chess player cant do a blindfold or by practice – KTM Jul 26 '18 at 9:12
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    I agree that GM have lot of visualization skills , but they too fail at simple blunders sometimes , or fail to play simultaneous blindfolded. Whereas there are some club level players who decided to be specialized in blindfold chess and succeeded in developing a strong system which relies on memory techniques other than the visualization skills. To support my claim , read the book : g.co/kgs/bpttd7 , Blindfold Chess: History, Psychology, Techniques, Champions... – abunickabhi Jul 26 '18 at 11:01
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This question involves the human mind's memory, so to start, let's play a quick game. Look at the line below for 1 second, and then look away immediately.

G R T A O H V I L P

Now try to recall as many of the letters as you can.

Now do the same thing for the next line (look for 1 second):

Fish Table Plate Water Mouse Cookie Scroll Piece Fan Ball

Recall as many of the words as you can.


The number of letters you were able to remember is probably close to the number of words you remembered. This is because human minds chunk many small things into bigger things, if given the opportunity. Words are just letters being chunked together. Note though, that if you didn't know what "Cookie" is, chances are you wouldn't have remembered it (since your mind wouldn't have had the opportunity to chunk C,O,O,K,I,E into one word).

This process can be applied to chess positions. You want to give your mind more opportunities to chunk pieces ("letters") into positions you can memorize ("words"). The key to doing this is pattern recognition; training your mind to immediately recognize positions (or immediately chunk certain arrangements of pieces together). Pattern recognition is just like learning new words in a language.

The best way to improve pattern recognition abilities is to look at many chess positions, over and over and over. Solving puzzles is a great way to do this since your mind is actively thinking about positions, allowing them to be stored and accessed easier from long-term memory. This not only helps your chess playing abilities, but also how well you can hold many positions in your head. If you can immediately see arrangements of pieces and know that they're a certain position (like C,O,O,K,I,E means "cookie"), then all you're really doing is holding big words in memory.

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  • I agree that human mind processes meaningful chunks in a better way, but we cannot cover every pattern that occurs in a game as it progresses, there will be times when the opponent plays a novelty or a weird move ,for which we might take time to process , as we haven't seen it over the board ,hence we do not have our predetermined evaluation. Thats why a encoding system is necessary : foe eg, suppose G R T A O H V I L P corresponds to a part of the board where there are pieces, I can remember it as Gerta one-handedly weeps , to remember the squares corresponding to those letters. – abunickabhi Jul 31 '18 at 10:30
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    I must be weird but I could easily recall all of the letters but I couldn't recall even half of the words! :-) – itub Jul 31 '18 at 11:14
  • @abunickabhi We definitely can't cover every pattern, but we can cover many of the characteristics of positions that occur. Practically speaking, there are an infinite number of chess positions (as far as our minds' capabilities go), but there are a finite number of characteristics. A characteristic can be a certain pawn structure, the king being in a back rank situation, etc. By studying many positions, over time you implicitly know more and more of these characteristics. – Inertial Ignorance Aug 1 '18 at 4:59

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