The Psychology of Blindfold Chess

September 5, 2006 at 3:37 am 4 comments

When I was 12, my friend and I would often play a verbal game of chess in the hotel pool while waiting for a tournament round to finish. We didn’t use any chess pieces or clocks, but the image of the chess game would be as sharp as if we were sitting there in a room across the table from each other, with the chess set between us and record sheets tucked underneath the felt chess board. We’d start, “e4”, “c5”, “Knight f3”, “d6”, … and the game would end when one of us made an illegal move — rarely could we finish a game because our memories would fail us first.

However, if you were a chess master like Reuben Fine, you would have no problem memorizing the sequence of moves throughout an entire game. Masters play “blindfold chess” against weaker opponents at exhibitions, where they would have their back turned toward the chess board, and verbally communicate moves between themselves and their opponent.

To a casual observer, this may seem like an amazing feat, since the master has to memorize the position on every board (when they are playing several opponents at once), and know exactly what piece if any is on each square.

So how do they do it?

  1. Associations: each chess piece and board position has a wealth of associations with it gained from past experiences.
  2. Notation: A special familiar language can be used to sum up a position in a few phrases.
  3. Spatial Gestalten: The breakdown of the chess board into several sections — structures which are familiar to the expert.

When I started reading this paper, I was pleased to see that the author was Reuben Fine, whose chess games I was familiar with when I was young. I’ve studied his games, and now I read his papers.

Fine, R. (1965). The psychology of blindfold chess: An introspective account. Acta Psychologica, 24, 352-370.

Entry filed under: Chess, Psychology.

Why beautiful people are more intelligent Looking back at Search Queries from 1997

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. clothing racks  |  July 28, 2013 at 6:41 am

    The warmth can fade and shrink cotton and wool, and
    will spoil the elastic in socks and underwear. If mom and dad are supplied some
    aid from earning positive that their toddlers
    remain in line, they will be extra peaceful, be given a lot more time to assume about whether or not or not to purchase, and are far more probable to make a order and return to your store in the potential.

    Craft your possess a single of a form minifigures, amazing creations and much more
    with our 10 tips for customizing brilliant Lego

  • 2. メンズ 通販 ファッション  |  September 25, 2013 at 9:55 pm


  • 3.  |  May 20, 2014 at 2:41 am

    To find out what we believe actually, examine our actions.
    Brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, grandparents and grandchildren may all find themselves employed in a family business.
    “What’ll you do with your pay when this is over, Carlson.

  • 4. Jack  |  July 13, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    I’m extremely impressed along with your writing talents as
    well as with the format to your blog. Is that this a paid subject matter or did you
    modify it your self? Either way keep up the excellent high
    quality writing, it’s rare to look a nice blog like this one these days..


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Read any good papers lately?

If you're interested in academic research, I'd love to have additional contributors. Shoot me an email.


%d bloggers like this: