Friday, 27 November 2009

Board Vision

One of my recent priorities has been to improve my calculation skills, and as a part of this to improve visualization and board vision. One problem I have with board vision is that I am unable to visualize the whole board. 4x4 squares is the most I can do at once. It is impossible for me to visualize whether two distant squares are on the same diagonal. Even visualizing the center was hard as its squares are too far from the edges of the board, which were my point of reference.

In an attempt to cure this problem I created an image of the board with quadrant lines drawn in. Then I made several randomized lists of the 64 board coordinates, from a1 to h8. The drill is that I go through a random list from beginning to end, pointing out the square of each coordinate on the board.

List 1: c5 h2 e5 c3 a5 e1 c7 b6 d8 g3 e7 e3 a8 f4 f5 b5 a3 e4 e2 d4 g8 f8 a7 g1 a6 g7 g4 h5 b7 a2 d1 d2 b4 d5 c1 h1 b8 h4 c4 b3 h3 f6 e8 a4 b1 d7 d3 f2 g6 h7 g5 a1 g2 c2 f7 c8 h8 e6 d6 h6 b2 c6 f3 f1

List 2: e4 f6 b2 e3 g4 b7 a3 h3 c1 g6 e8 c8 a5 c7 c6 e6 d1 b6 g7 d7 d2 b5 c5 h5 a2 d8 g8 g2 b3 h2 h7 e2 c2 h6 b1 a6 a1 a7 f4 b8 h1 f8 c4 e1 g3 g5 h8 e7 h4 f1 c3 e5 d6 f2 a4 g1 a8 f7 f3 d3 b4 d4 f5 d5

List 3: e6 d8 d4 f2 e1 g3 h1 a6 b2 c2 e3 b6 g8 f7 h6 c5 a2 a4 d6 g5 h3 e8 h5 f6 d2 h2 b1 c6 e4 g1 c1 f1 a3 f5 g2 c7 a7 c3 f4 d7 a1 b4 h4 b3 e2 b8 a5 f8 a8 h7 b7 c4 f3 g6 e7 h8 g4 g7 e5 d1 c8 b5 d3 d5

Next I do the same with a 4x4 board, going through the list again, pointing out where each board coordinate is inside its quadrant.

List 4: g1 a3 f3 g6 d4 e3 c2 h8 b1 d6 d7 h2 b3 b4 g5 g3 a4 h6 a1 b7 e4 f7 f2 a2 e2 c8 h5 d2 c3 d5 d1 g2 f5 e8 a7 e7 h1 f6 b6 g8 b2 c6 a8 h3 f8 g7 b5 f1 a5 d8 c7 a6 h7 c5 d3 c4 b8 c1 h4 g4 e6 f4 e5 e1

List 5: e8 d5 b5 a3 e2 b1 g2 g5 h7 c8 c6 g6 h4 a7 d3 g3 a8 h1 d2 a4 f2 d7 e1 c2 d4 g8 b6 c4 a6 g7 a1 a5 g1 h3 e3 f3 f4 b2 c1 e7 b4 d8 c3 d6 b3 h2 h5 b7 f1 f5 h6 e5 g4 f6 d1 f8 c7 e6 a2 c5 e4 b8 h8 f7

List 6: d8 c5 f7 c8 d6 h1 e3 f2 d2 a1 e8 g6 a7 c4 c6 g5 e5 c1 h5 b5 h3 h8 f3 g8 a2 a3 c7 h6 e6 h7 g1 b2 g3 e4 h2 g4 f6 b4 e2 a5 h4 c2 f4 b3 b6 a8 d7 g2 f8 c3 f5 d1 d3 g7 e7 b8 a6 a4 d4 e1 b1 b7 d5 f1

After doing these drills I visualize the board not as 64 squares, but as 4 quadrants with 16 squares each. The quadrant lines have become points of reference that has made it easier to visualize the center and orient myself around the board. When evaluating blindfol if two distant squares are on a diagonal, I fist visualize where the first square is inside its quadrant, and then where the second is inside its. With this information it has become possible to know whether they are on a diagonal or not.


  1. Your board is sideways; the bottom right-hand corner of the board should be a light-square.

    If I am honest with myself, I should have the colors of squares memorized by now.

    A nice shortcut is to think of what colored-bishop goes on the fianchettoed squares, then imagine the squares surrounding the bishop as being the opposite color, and then the empty squares surrounding those pawns are the opposite color of those pawns.

    Queen goes on her own color, so the square in front of her is opposite color of her, as is the square 3 squares in front, whereas for the king, those same equidistant squares in front of him are the same color as his queen.

  2. The only squares I left out are a4, a5, c4, c5, f4, f5, h4, h5, which are best memorized.

    a4 and c4 are light, a5 and c5 are dark. f4 and h4 are dark, f5 and h5 are light.

  3. LinuxGuy: You are right of course. I just grabbed a chessboard off the net, and used it as a starting point, not noticing it was wrong. Fixed now.

    Your ideas for memorizing the square colors based on the Queen and fianchettoed bishops are interesting. My coach has given me a similar tip, saying that I must build such associations to each square. For example seeing c3 as the square where I move my knight in the Vienna.

  4. I like your method. i came across an easy way to "caluclate' the color of any square on the board. But I don't know if it really helps with visualizing the board.

    If you think of the files a - h as even and odd numbers, a=1=odd b=2=even c=3=odd, etc. You can figure out the colour of any square with the following rule.

    For any given square, if both coordinates are even, the square is light. If one is even and one is odd, it's dark.

    We all know that h8 is white. h=8=even and 8=even so the square is light. f5 would be dark because f=6=even but 5 is odd, hence a dark square.

    I find that if I do this calculation first, THEN try to visualise it's position on the board, I get a better idea of where it is and what the color of the squares around it are too.

    I think it will also help me visualize diagonals since squares that share a diagonal have the same even/odd relationship. I hope this helps.

  5. I thiI'm sorry about the last post. i mixed myself up. lol. i guess I still have some work to do.

    I meant to say that if the coordinates are both ODD or both EVEN, it's a dark square. And if odd and even it's a light square. My examples were therfore totally messed up. I hope you guys can correct my mistake and understand what I was getting at.

    Obviously I need more practice.