In my earlier post I described how I would try to learn algebraic notation to the point where I can discuss moves algebraically and the image of those moves will be in my head. One ecxercise that my son’s chess teacher is doing with him is to have him play blindfold against another student and see how many moves he can survive before being checkmated or before losing track of the pieces. I am utterly amazed when I see these kids do this. At this stage they seem to be getting to the 15 move mark on a good day which I think is incredible – it certainly looks hugely impressive. I have tried this a couple of times at home but get foggy quickly – I will bribe my son to do this excercise with me at home and report back.
In my last post I said that I hadn’t been taught chess and that algebraic notation is like a foreign language. I reflected on this and decided that if I am to improve at chess then I need to shift my thinking, I need to learn better and one of the important things I could do would be to learn the language of chess. But how? Well I found a couple of great videos on Chess.com by a comical chess teacher called Danny Rensch. He talks about ‘Full Board Awareness’ and ‘Full Board Nirvana’. Short clips of each video are here: http://www.chess.com/video/player/achieving-full-board-awareness and here: http://www.chess.com/video/player/achieving-full-board-nirvana . (For members of Chess.com you see the full video).
The videos are not meant to teach you algebraic notation but are designed to improve visualisation skills. Nonetheless the excercises do both; they improve visualisation and teach you how to be familiar with algebraic notation.
The first excercise is to get a partner to name a square – say d3, you then have to say its colour. For me I would have to know that black is on a1, then go b white, c black, d white, 2 black, 3 white to know that d3 is white. But with training, apparently, this should be like the times tables where you don’t have to finger count, you just know (apparently). The next step is to call out the ‘twin square’, the squares that would be the same for the opposite player eg b2 would be g7, d5 would be e4 and so forth, again these should become second nature. Excercises continue and get more complicated culminating in an excercise where you have have a number of your own pieces on a board and you have to say which ones are protected and by whom, your partner moves a piece (you don’t see the board) and again you have to explain what is protected by whom – additional pieces are added until you have a web of pieces moving around that you need to visualise and explain.
I will try this and report back.