08 April 2014

Thinking about Chess

I guess I have a soft spot for certain types of chess books. Last year I posted about them in Chess Psychology/Philosophy. A recent post, 'Chess in School' : Three Studies, had another list, repeated here without the original author's commentary:-

There are several manuscripts related to chess theory that are worth reviewing.
  • Think Like a Grandmaster, Kotov
  • Judgment and Planning in Chess, Euwe
  • Chess Psychology, Krogius [aka 'Psychology in Chess']
  • Lasker's Manual of Chess, Em.Lasker
  • Chess: The Mechanics of the Mind, Pfleger and Treppner
  • Psychology of Chess, Hartston and Wason
  • How Chessmasters Think, Schmidt
  • Winning Chess, Chernev and Reinfeld

Since I already had five of those titles, I set out to see if I could find the other three. Two of them were available in digital format and the third is available online for free and offline for a price: W. R. Hartston & P. C. Wason - The Psychology of Chess (Scribd.com). I've always been wary of this site, so I'll leave it alone for now.

Back to 'Three Studies', a look at Robert Ferguson's Educational Benefits of Chess, the author wrote, 'Lasker presented a lucid description of the three basic methods of chess thinking in Lasker’s Manual of Chess.' Ferguson explained the three methods in his section 'Definition of Terms':-

Positional Thinking. Lasker (1947) portrayed the positional thinker as one who has the general plan to build a strong and familiar position. In the opening of the game, the positional thinker avoids violent moves, aims for small advantages, accumulates them, and, after attaining these, searches for a solid attack. The positional player tends to be more defensive. He conceives chess as a scientific discipline with definite guiding principles.

Tactical Thinking. Lasker (1947) wrote that in chess the tactical thinker is a combinational thinker, combining the force of his chessmen (pieces) to create advantages; he is an adventurer, who feels comfortable being the aggressor. This type of thinker thinks forward; he or she starts from a given position and tries to find the forceful moves. The tactical thinker’s conceptual ability is especially evident in the middle segment of the game, when the pieces create a great variety of possible moves. Tactical thinkers are reflective thinkers. The chess position creates the problem, the selection of move creates the observational mode of thought, and the chosen move is the solution. Tactical thinkers have highly developed powers of creative imagination and the ability of far reaching concrete calculation.

Eclectic Thinking. Lasker (1947) defined this method of thinking in chess as a harmonic union of both the positional thinker and the tactical thinker. Krogius uses the term “universal” to describe the eclectic thinker (Krogius, 1972, p. 13).

The split into positional and tactical thinking shouldn't raise too many eyebrows, but 'eclectic thinking' is a strange term; ditto for 'reflective thinking' which is defined separately. Ferguson had one other comment about Lasker (p.64), an observation he repeated later (p.156).

Krogius, in his book Chess Psychology, indicated that Lasker’s classification of styles of thinking needs more investigation (p. 15). According to Krogius, more considerations are needed regarding the qualities of chess thinking and the structure of the thought process in the selection of a move.

All of this thinking about thinking in chess is making my mind spin. I think I'll go play for a while.

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