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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Do you really need to think while playing chess?

Chess News and Chess Trivia Blog (c) Alexandra Kosteniuk, 2010

How much to think? Photo credit: Funny Pictures

Hello Everyone,

Of all the amazing things we read about chess doing the rounds on the Internet, here's another!

There's actually a research paper 'Playing chess unconsciously' by Kiesel, Andrea; Kunde, Wilfried; Pohl, Carsten; Berner, Michael P.; Hoffmann, Joachim Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, Vol 35(1), Jan 2009, 292-298.

The abstract states:

Expertise in a certain stimulus domain enhances perceptual capabilities. In the present article, the authors investigate whether expertise improves perceptual processing to an extent that allows complex visual stimuli to bias behavior unconsciously.

Expert chess players judged whether a target chess configuration entailed a checking configuration. These displays were preceded by masked prime configurations that either represented a checking or a nonchecking configuration. Chess experts, but not novice chess players, revealed a subliminal response priming effect, that is, faster responding when prime and target displays were congruent (both checking or both nonchecking) rather than incongruent. Priming generalized to displays that were not used as targets, ruling out simple repetition priming effects.

Thus, chess experts were able to judge unconsciously presented chess configurations as checking or nonchecking. A 2nd experiment demonstrated that experts' priming does not occur for simpler but uncommon chess configurations. The authors conclude that long-term practice prompts the acquisition of visual memories of chess configurations with integrated form-location conjunctions. These perceptual chunks enable complex visual processing outside of conscious awareness.
-(PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved)

You can also read a nice analysis and comment links here.

Very interesting. What do you think?

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