The secret of chess players in simultaneous games

Anyone who has been lucky enough to attend a simultaneous game of chess will surely be surprised by the speed of the game that the great masters flaunt. While the youngest and most inexperienced must think carefully and slowly analyze the next movement and yet so they lose the game anyway; the great masters move from one table to another with impressive speed, just a second is enough to concentrate on the game and visualize the next play. How is this possible? Chess masters as well as musicians possess a prodigious memory; they are able to memorize most of the positions of the pieces on various tables with just a glance. On the other hand, beginners can only remember certain positions from their game. However, everything changes when the pieces of the game are arranged randomly, the memory of both is similar. Why? Because the great chess masters memorize the game in large meaningful units and this allows them to expand their working memory to store more positions. In other words, it would be like storing information in a compressed archive which in this way leaves more space allowing you to collect a greater amount of information. Of course, when the pieces are placed in arbitrary order, these large significant units cannot consolidate so that the memory is influenced and forced to memorize the positions one by one. How do you acquire this skill? The great masters spent between 10.000 and 20.000 hours just studying the positions. If we do a quick calculation, it would be the equivalent of 10 years of study with an average, more or less, of 30 hours per week. So it is not strange that they develop this prodigious memory. But the repercussions of this training don't end there. Experienced chess players organize their entire memory using larger patterns supported by meaningful principles, and this makes it easier for them to access it quickly. Let's take a simple example: if we finish writing an article on schizophrenia and put it in a folder with our name on it, which contains all our information, probably when we need it again it will be difficult to find it among all the information we have. On the contrary, if we keep it in a folder with the title: Clinical Psychology and inside a sub-folder called Psychiatric Disorders, the next time we look for it it will be much easier to find it since we will follow a logical path without having to force the memory. The memory of chess players and musicians works in a similar way, while ours is a little more disorganized. This is one of the reasons why the great masters can make a game in such a short time, the way they store the information of the positions allows them to abstract from the details, meet the similarities, get to the essentials and determine the plays that they are really important. At the same time, practice ensures that this process is automated more and more, so that a large part of the resources of the attention will be freed that the person can thus devote to any inconvenience or novelty that may arise during the game.

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