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From the esteemed magazine Psychology Today: "Chess: Not All About Logic? Spatial processing may be the key to a good game. Chess is not necessarily a game reserved for people with IQ scores on par with Einstein. In fact, chess strategy may rely more heavily on spatial processing than on logic and computational skills."

Doh. The research mentioned in the short article is based on doing MRI scans of amateur players' brains while they are playing. This is an interesting, but hardly a groundbreaking theory. From de Groot's many studies to the opinion of just about any chess coach you meet, spatial relationships and pattern recognition are the main elements of most "chess thought." Are these scientists really ignorant of all the prior research in this area? But it is interesting to have so much theory backed up by a brain scan. Next they should scan some Masters and compare their brain activity to the amateurs in their study. In most studies these are very different things.

Strangely enough I had a conversation about this two nights ago at a charity dinner hosted by the marvelous people at X3D Technologies, the company that made the Kasparov-Deep Junior match happen in January. A friend and chess tyro asked me and top coaches GM Lev Alburt and IM Michael Khodarkovsky if we saw "quadrants or triangles" on the board. A bit of a silly question, but we all agreed that an aptitude for applying geometric and spatial concepts is essential and a good indicator of talent in students.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on May 22, 2003 4:46 AM.

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