Friday, March 30, 2007

Chess VIII -- The CCT-rule and pattern recognition

I imagine that the following objection to the CCT-rule can be raised: "following that systematic way of thinking is a waste of time. Are you familiar with the concept of 'pattern recognition'? It's basically the idea that you train your mind to recognise pattern so that you see things immediately and don't need a systematic way of thinking. That's what the aspiring tactician should strive to archive, to solve enough tactical problems so that they start to get a 'feel' for a given position and see what needs to be done or thought about. You're assuming that the human mind works like a computer, but I got news for you: it doesn't! We can never be as efficient as humans in doing brute force, and need to work with the strength we got. So take your CCT-rule and shove it up your a**!"

What is my answer to the above? Let me begin by saying that I think its garbage. Well, not really, I actually agree with a lot of it, but it's stupid of the objecter to think that I wouldn't. Most of it is completely irrelevant to the CCT-rule. And I know, I'm was rude (for saying 'garbage' and 'stupid'). But so what, he began. You did notice that part about shoving the CCT-rule? Did you, did you? Punk. Oops.

Firstly, and this is point that I haven't stressed in the past but is somewhat self-evident: If you do see something interesting immediately, a way to win a piece or such, then by all means go for that (or examine variations thereof, trying to win more). That's perfectly all right. The CCT-rule is more a rule to fall back on when you *don't* see something immediate and have no leads. As soon as you see something, even if it's a capture or threat while you are examining checks, switch to that which you see, even if it means deviating from the rule. The rule is just a tool to help you find good moves, and often your mind will make 'unexpected' jumps. For example, you see a check that would be great to do but you can't do because the square is guarded, but then you see that you can capture the piece that guard the square. In this scenario, check mentally what happens if you capture that piece, and do this despite not having examined all checks yet. You've found something, go for it! If it leads to nowhere, go back to the rule and the (semi-)systematic approach.

Secondly, the CCT-rule does leave a lot of room for intuition; everything isn't structured. The rule just gives you the start point of certain variations; you still have to decide by other means which variations are interesting enough to think more about, and evaluate the resulting position. I have no rule for that (yet. :) )

Thirdly, far from being anti-intuition, the CCT-rule is actually an efficient way of training your intuition. By constantly going through these series of questions (what are all possible checks, and what happens on the board when I make them? What are all possible captures? etc) you train your mind to start to automatically notice these things. You get faster and faster at answering these questions. That's how intuition is built. (Okay I know, I made the exact same point in my earlier post. Repetition is the mother of all knowledge etc.)


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