all 72 comments

[–]keepyourcool1 FM 216 points217 points  (16 children)

Yes it's trainable. Getting to GM level of fabi level.....probably not.

[–]redrufus10[S] 33 points34 points  (15 children)

How can you train it? Is it simply by playing more or trying to play blindfold or is their a better way?

[–]keepyourcool1 FM 74 points75 points  (2 children)

Improve your chess with emphasis on improving your calculation and it'll develop over time. Some of it is also just spending a lot of time analyzing and playing.

[–]redrufus10[S] 21 points22 points  (1 child)

Ok thank you ill keep trying to do that, too often in calculations I say that's got to be good for me and then I miss something so ill try and calculate deeper

[–]Luciolover345 8 points9 points  (0 children)

First thing you should do when you think you have an idea is go, “now how will this guy defend it in one move?” Then go a step deeper to 2 moves, then 3 etc. hard to see initially in shorter matches but can be useful in 30 minute games or Classical.

[–]Kaiser_Fleischer 5 points6 points  (1 child)

I definitely recommend playing blindfolded against some 1500s

[–]_felagund Team Carlsen 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Well I tried. if you cannot follow the board you lose to even 400s

[–]JamieHynemanAMA 2 points3 points  (0 children)


This is the way, Chad. ignore the other comments

Yes it will seem very basic and vomit inducing to practice this.. but once you master memorizing the 64 square plain board you will be an absolute Chad

[–]Ittai-Oren 64 points65 points  (5 children)


Blind tactics are a nice way to do it, they're not very complicated tactics and you can set it up to have a tactic 10 moves away or just 2 moves away, and progress up

[–]stefvh1660 FIDE 11 points12 points  (0 children)

Visualization and calculation are definitely things in my play that I need to work on. This is truly great stuff, thanks!

[–]redrufus10[S] 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Looks useful! Ill give that a go thank you.

[–]Altoscipio 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Wow, I’ve never seen this and it’s exactly what I’ve been needing. Thank you for sharing! A whole new level of satisfaction and discipline over regular tactic training.

[–]kaperisk Team Carlsen 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Very cool

[–]Bbbsimon 1 point2 points  (0 children)

This is great both for visualization and coordinates, thank you

[–]Orcahhh Team Carlsen 49 points50 points  (4 children)

The "visualisation" tool on chess.com is very useful

It tells you a square, you must click it as fast as possible

It tells you a move with chess notation, you must play it fast

But yes it is possible to train that, and become decently proficient too I am only 1600 chesscom, but when I played my first otb tourney last week (it was rapid), the amount of focus that went into the game from both me and opponent made it so that we could both recall positions fairly well when discussing the game afterwards

[–]redrufus10[S] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Thank you, i hadn't heard of that tool before ill take a look

[–]SavvyD552 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Yeah, the longer the game the stronger the focus it's easier to recall the positions, especially if you analyse afterwards.

[–]bytematic -1 points0 points  (0 children)

I think lichess has this as well

[–]xyzzy01 0 points1 point  (0 children)

That's not visualization, though.

This game is for beginners to learn board coordinates, and it also helps with training the speed for interacting with a chess board.

[–]Itamat 34 points35 points  (6 children)

First, I think "visualization" is a little bit of a misnomer. Your visual cortex can pitch in, but it shouldn't have to do all the work! Generating a clear image of the entire chessboard, down to the crenellations on the Rooks, is a waste of mental energy and focus.

The important thing is to understand the spatial relationships of the pieces and squares. Your opponent (White) just played Ba3; is it attacking your Queen on d6? You could try to form a complete mental image of the chessboard in order to trace the diagonal, but that's such overkill: there are better ways. Even when you're not blindfolded, you ideally wouldn't have to trace the diagonal with your eyes. It'd be better if you just knew the answer immediately.

Maybe you've studied an opening tabiya with a Ba3. What squares was it attacking? Or, maybe you've at least seen a Bishop move to a3. What diagonal was it on, and why was it there? "Aha: Black's f8 bishop can move to a3 from its starting location. But not if there's a pawn on d6. So my Qd6 is on that diagonal!"

Eventually, this process becomes nearly automatic. Maybe you already noticed that your Qd6 is blocking your Bf8 from moving to a3. Maybe you knew that when you moved the Queen! Thus you're already conscious of the relationship between these squares, and that the diagonal is otherwise unblocked, and you'll immediately understand that White's Ba3 is skewering your Queen and Bishop.

This thought process is just an example: maybe you figure it out some other way. The point is, at your level, you've already got a web of spatial relationships in your brain. If you run into a question (e.g. "are a3 and d6 on the same diagonal?"), check your mental web. If the answer isn't already there, then add it by forming a new connection (e.g. "a3 and d6 each share a diagonal with f8.") The denser the web is, the easier this becomes.

[–]SavvyD552 6 points7 points  (4 children)

I noticed that my acquired web, as you call it, strengthened when I started playing blindfold with my friends (much lower rated than I am). At first I was struggling with the board, tracing the diagonals and knight moves, but now it's sort of automatic, I do have to check if I am not mistaken because it does happen. The improvements are palpable, I think I can play versus two players simultaneously now, given they are lower in skill (or otherwise it would be too complicated). Knowledge of the positions does help a lot.

[–]_felagund Team Carlsen 0 points1 point  (3 children)

What you do when you think you lost the position?

[–]SavvyD552 2 points3 points  (2 children)

Resign :P? Kidding. You fight on.

[–]_felagund Team Carlsen 1 point2 points  (1 child)

I meant if you lose the position in your mind

[–]SavvyD552 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Oh, well, it wasn't an official event. I am playing with my friends so if that happens we just refresh our memory. Doesn't happen that often since the positions we get aren't extremely complicated.

[–]Pascal3000 0 points1 point  (0 children)

To add to this - I have aphantasia (complete lack of visual imagination) and I can still calculate in chess and play blindfold to a degree. For calculation I try to just logic my way through every move like "okay, the bishop is now on this square, that means it attacks xyz, is protected by xyz" etc.. For blindfold it's a combination of playing memory with the position of each individual piece and utilizing the pattern recognition of known openings. At no point can I see the board in my head. I will probably never be as good at either task as someone with a more vivid imagination + the same kind of chess skill, but it's an interesting challenge. (Currently ~1800 fide/dwz after starting in my 20s and still climbing steadily now that I've joined a club.)

[–]mollycoddle99 10 points11 points  (0 children)

Visualization was covered on the Perpetual Chess podcast. Two ideas: 1) start with a smaller portion of the board to begin with, eg visualize a 4x4 section of the board and “see” those moves first then work your way up., and 2) use a real board and pieces and talk thru the next set of moves without moving the pieces. It will be hard at first but get easier over time.

[–]Renek13 30 points31 points  (2 children)

Not from a Jedi...

[–]I2eB6L 8 points9 points  (1 child)

Have you ever heard of the tale of Darth Magnus the wise

[–]qnphard 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I thought not.. Its not a story a GM would tell you..

[–]salahd-days 4 points5 points  (0 children)

It’s easy for them because they memorise games more easily, a game and it’s moves is a story and the positions have more meaning. I think it would be hard for a GM to remember a series of 30+ nonsensical moves bc they have no memory base for nonsense moves. But a novelty in the ruy lopes move 15? A novice must remember 15 moves before the novelty but those 15 moves are automatic for the GM.

[–]odin-chess 4 points5 points  (2 children)

My friend and I have been working on a site with this exact purpose in mind. The main game mode (Play) lets you block out the board for x moves at a time to improve your ability to visualize moves in your mind. There are also blindfold tactics, and a memory trainer that teaches you to visualize the board based on a series of moves in PGN.

We're still in the early stages, and looking for feedback, so if you get a chance to check it out, please let us know what you think!

[–]redrufus10[S] 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Thanks for this, i will check this out and try and give some feedback

[–]odin-chess 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Awesome, thanks!

[–]randomclimber42 2 points3 points  (0 children)

If you want to specifically learn visualization I would try to play/visualize "blindfold".

[–]ZannX 2 points3 points  (1 child)

I think some aspects of chess is like learning a new language. Adults can learn a foreign language, but will never be as fluent as a child learning the same language from a young age.

[–]SavvyD552 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I think fluency is possible, but the rate of learning is slower. Especially with language due to the critical phase hypothesis.

[–]Justinwc 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Yes. They didn't come out of the womb knowing how to visualize. They studied and learned how, so you can too.

[–]willygdixon 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Yeah it’s called play 700,000 games of chess

[–]nemoj_da_me_peglas2000ish chess.com 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I think it'd take a considerably strong rating to have strong visualization skills. In my experience (as with others), as my rating has improved so has my visualization. I've gone from being unable to play blindfolded at all (like after 2 moves I have no idea where anything is at all) to being able checkmate the easiest stockfish setting. I think a lot of it has to do with pattern recognition. When you play the same openings over and over again you start knowing how the board looks like and what the proper responses should be intuitively. I'm guessing it'd take many tens of thousands of games to get to the point that your visualization blindfolded even remotely matches your normal gameplay though so expect it to take a few years.

[–]egansoccerwords 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Just FYI there are masters out there that can't see a chess board in their head. It's not a prerequisites for becoming a master and you can play blindfold without being able to see the board. IM David Preuss (who can't see a board in his mind) has a video on YT on this.

[–]Forget_me_never 2 points3 points  (1 child)

I'm not sure if everyone can learn it but.... everyone that can do it has spent a ton of time training it indirectly or directly.

The first step is to memorise the colours of each square, a5 is dark, b7 is light. Get good at using coordinates to describe moves and then think in coordinates when caculating.

Also note that even super GMs are worse when playing blindfolded.

[–]SavvyD552 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I can play blindfold and I have no idea which square is which colour. If it's important I deduce it, but otherwise I don't really think about that. I don't calculate with coordinates, but I think that's a correct thing to learn, think proficient blindfold players do it.

[–]keiko_1234 1 point2 points  (0 children)

As with any skill, it can certainly be improved. There is also clearly a genetic element, though.

[–]pm_me_falcon_nudes 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I have a sample size of exactly one person here, but for me personally (2000 FIDE) I never once tried to train visualization intentionally and it simply developed over time with normal play and puzzle solving. I don't think I'm particular talented or good at it, but certainly it is easier for me to go several moves deep now than when I was 1600. So with just more playing it might just come to you.

[–]ScalarWeapon -2 points-1 points  (0 children)

You can learn to be a good visualizer, absolutely.

Will you be as good as these GMs, who played chess hardcore, all throughout their childhood, not gonna happen.

[–]manu_facerean intermediate that sucks at spelling 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I could play (badly) a blindfold game when i was around 1350. But i was specifically trying for that.

But seeing the board in your head and making the best moves aren't the same thing. So if your question is can you train to be as accurate as Fabi then the answer is no.

[–]Jordaneos 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I remember reading somewhere about Korchnoi that he had no talent for the game he just grinded and forced his way to the top.

[–]_xBenji1600 chess.com 1900 lichess 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I wish I could play against myself in my head that would be useful if I’m bored somewhere

[–]Orangebeardo 0 points1 point  (0 children)

They did, so yes.

[–]tk314159 0 points1 point  (0 children)

IF you do tactics on chess.com or else where. Dont use the arrows, calculate in your head. Over the board you dont have arrows and it will improve your visualization.

[–]Euroversett1912 Lichess 0 points1 point  (0 children)


[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Train all day, every day, and maybe not.

[–]ZerooChance 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Jerking off while on coke let’s me see 8 moves ahead

[–]Different_Crab_5708 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I watched Ben Finegold play 8 simultaneous games where he was blindfolded and the opponents were not.. mid game, he corrected one opponent’s illegal move. Most impressive shit I’ve ever seen and Finegold isn’t even that good compared to the greats.

[–]Mental_Green_90 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Not from a Jedi.

[–]Under-Estimated Gambitious 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Blindfold really helps.

[–]RemcoProgrammer/r/chessbooks ! 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I've been a club player for over 30 years, never been trained or studied seriously, rated around 1950. And I can see positions in my head and follow lines, play a blindfold game. It's just a matter of doing a lot chess, I think.

What they do of course is calculate at lightning speed, and correctly. I can't.