How to Improve Visualization | Chess Meditations

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Playing blindfolded chess is one of the skills I admire the most. Grandmasters weren’t born knowing how to do that. It takes loads of patience, practice, and slow, incremental improvement to achieve!

I have assembled a list of exercises which I use to improve my visualization skills. In time, it will result in being able to play blindfolded (which is the flashiest byproduct of practice), but it will also significantly improve my play in general. Better visualization makes you quicker at calculating, spotting patterns and weaknesses, and positioning your pieces.

I would suggest doing all of these every day. Each takes 5 to 10 minutes, and the progression you will be able to achieve will make the training harder but not longer.

Exercise 1: Play through all your games in your head. It doesn’t have to be a rated tournament game. Even blitz games could do. As soon as you finish a game, try to go over each move and remember the whole game.
To start off: Play your games over the board, moving the pieces. This will eventually make you stronger and you will be able to do the same thing in your head.

Exercise 2: Look at positions and set them on the board. This one is particularly useful. Take any random game, go to move 20, look at the position, memorize it and set it on the board. It will be tough at first, but in time you will become stronger!
To start off: Take random games and go to move 35; the positions will be simpler and have less pieces.

Exercise 3: Solve puzzles in your head. Take a tactics book or go online and try to solve tactics blindfolded.
To start off: Use simple problems such as king and pawn vs pawn. Those you can surely remember and solve!

Exercise 4: Play blindfolded! Play against yourself. In your head, say to yourself: “Pawn to e4.”, then reply: “Pawn to c5.”, and go on until you get lost and mess up. In a while you will be able to go deeper and deeper into the position without erring.
To start off: There are no shortcuts here!

Exercise 5: Play memory games! Create sequences in your head and try to remember as many as possible. It could be numbers, animals, movies, whatever. In time, the number of units in the sequence will increase and your memory will improve!
To start off: Use something familiar to you, such as names of people in your school or company. This will make the task less abstract.

#chess

53 Comments

  1. I'm like the scarecrow in the wizard of Oz. If I only had a brain….. Or a memory.

  2. That you for another great video! I can't express how grateful I am for your wonderful content.

  3. Amazing video as usual! Also, I was wondering, if you get the chance, could you make an opening repertoire on the King's Indian Defense from the black side? Thanks

  4. Thank you very much
    It's very good video

  5. Interesting exercises. I have enough difficulty simply calculating. Blindfold chess seems like a dark art to me.
    But I used to memorize lines and blocking for plays, so maybe I should give it a try.

    Thank you for another excellent lecture video.

  6. Sir, When you are going to start a new opening after this "King's Gambit" series. I am waiting desperately for new series. And if "Yes" then which opening it ll be ?

    Will wait for your kind reply Sir .

  7. Once again, amazing lecture Stjepan! I have started playing French defence because of your movies. Dreaming about some d4 response series.

  8. Very different way of looking at the re usage of old ideas from own games. Very informative and clever idea

  9. Waiting eagerly for the D4 series. But the idea series is very good even

  10. Amazing video once again! Just wanted to ask that if there is any book or database or link or anything where I can find notations (only notations) of puzzles, particularly made to be solved blindfolded?

  11. To memorise music I have to find the plan or the story – the theme will repeat, third time shorter etc. it's the same – that's why your videos are so helpful, I know WHY the knight is on f3, stopping any queen attacks in the king's gambit..I go over the tactical exercises on lichess verbally, giving each move its function several times until I get it right, then do last week's etc.

  12. Can you make an opening series on London system

  13. I have a question for you can you see a chessboard in your head and how does it look like 2d or 3d and is it as clear as the real thing in front of you? Thanks for another great video.

  14. Your videos are so instructive, you respond to questions that I have daily, thanks man!

  15. A book on memory that you may want to check out is called, “Remember it!…” by Nelson Dellis. He talks about various memory and visualization techniques. Great videos as always!

  16. Zdravo Stjepane, hvala na instruktivnim i poucnim snimcima. Imam pitanje u vezi vezbe br.2; da li je za pocetnike bolje da biraju partije sa vrhunskog nivoa, ili je lakse za razumevanje pozicije ako su partije sa nizeg nivoa? Bez obzira da li je od 20-og. poteza, ili 35-og. Hvala, veliki pozdrav i samo nastavi tako

  17. Just tested my memory of the game you showed looking for about 30 seconds or so and got all of blacks pieces right and all but 3 right on white. forgot to place the light square bishop and had Q on d2 instead of d1 and pawn on h2 not h3. Fun exercise! Thanks for the advice. I told myself "Benoni structure, symmetrical rooks, oddly placed dark sq bishop for black" and then just tried to remember roughly the pawn structure to help me remember.

  18. I used to double whenever I would walk somewhere. I think 2^28 or there abouts was my best without error.

  19. I use a separate account on Lichess just for blindfold and play standard length games (15 minutes with 15 second increment). My opponents don't know that I'm playing blindfold and this gives me a blindfold rating which is useful to track progress.

  20. Can you please do a video on ZWISCHENZÜGE? Both spotting and avoiding them. I am intermediate and sometimes in a seemingly strong position, I get bloodthirsty and fall prey to Zwischenzüge. It makes me second guess in situations where I really do have a winning position, and I sometimes draw winning games to avoid imaginary threats. Vielen Dank!!!

    I watched the Jennifer Shahade video and it's 50 minutes of her being condescending to her class and poorly explaining the mechanics of intermezzo and also boring as hell. Your approach is fun and infinitely more instructive.

  21. your channel is a little gold mine of information, thank you for your efforts.

  22. Best chess chanle in the world so cool and so helpful , cuz you study like when we study math … love you man

  23. Asking my friends to play blindfold chess, they’ll think I am crazy. U r lucky u got friends like that!!

  24. How can I find this chessboard with its color whitout colors?

  25. "Play with yourself, in the morning, in the shower"
    -Hanging pawns

  26. Very informative video. Please keep them coming.

  27. Hey so in terms of psychology, I know that there are 3 general types of memory-sensory, working and long term.

    It makes sense if for this you would primarily use sensory and working memory, but sensory memory generally only lasts for a small number of seconds, and even working memory is limited to almost 20 seconds. How are things like simultaneous games blind folded represented cognitively?

    I’m really only a college freshman taking psych so go easy on me for the lack of information.

  28. When I play blindfolded I struggle to visualize the color of the squares and I can't imagine the whole board at once, I find this task very taxing on the mind.

  29. Sir learn bindfond suggesn guide line help

  30. I ask my brother to put the pieces on the board and then I ask him to give me any random opening and ask him to place the pieces on the board and I check that I can visualise or not

  31. There is a free android app called "Blindfold Chess Training" and it has hundreds of problems from opening and endgame positions, organized by increasing move depth and number of pieces. You can read the notation, but I really like using the volume buttons on my earbuds to make it read aloud each move. You make your decision and then you get to see the answer/position. It is brilliant for giving you a spaced out look while you are solving during dishes and housework.

    The other thing I found especially helpful down at my level was to accurately visualize my memorized short games (Morphy Opera game etc.) with my eyes closed while saying the moves aloud as well as a description of the basic reason why it was played. For what it is worth I fluctuate between elo 1400 amd 1500 but I usually play 20ish moves blindfold without a board against family members without forgetting where any of the pieces are. Not sure if that is better than average or not but there it is anyway.

  32. I can play and beat 3 players simultaneously if they are rated max 1700 elo. The weird thing is that my own rating is "only" 2100. I've never seemed to drop much in level from playing blindfolded.

  33. terrible brute force time wasting visualization nonsense . first learn the board the diagonal moves and the relations between squares instead of trying to memorize the position and brute calculating the moves that all the time you end up counting squares .so stupid. cant believe chess people are so dumb still didnt develop a proper training methods. they memorize openings and listening to chess coaches is painful its like listening to low IQ people unironically.

  34. Great video. I have a question: Could you always visualize the whole board aswell as the color of each square?

  35. the games that i learned i can play it entiery but if i play agaist me . i did maybe 20 25 moves so 10 or 15 moves after the opening and after that its confusing and i forget some position . im training 15hours per day . im beginner but i work very hard . hope that i be able to play the all games that i want . i would like to thank for your advices . i follow the channel and i learn a lot of things in such video thank you sooooo much !!!

    PS : sorry for my english hope that you understand what i mean because you asked us in the video to comment and tell what is our level etc 🙂 i play chess for 4 and half mounth but i work between 10 and 15 hours a day . (tactical training . strategies . variation of my opening. learning famous games etc ) i did a program specific for each 2 hours theme . when i wake up i began working because our brain is soo strong when we just wake up . i learn also a famous games but i dont see the result i try to thing on the position on my chessboard and after i see what the player was play etc . i try to calculate also so long as i can . everyday i try to depass my limit. i love positional chess . but i try to learn all style . i love chess . its became my life now heheh . when i try to sleep at night i play agaist me in my mind until i been confused and i sleep xD heheheh ..

    bref thaaannnkkk you for all your helps because realy i dont have the means to join club or buying books etc . i download free pdf books on the net and i try to learn and work alone . but their is also a friend in us that help me with lesson videos and advices called NM robert ramirez he remember me you generosity and humility thaaannkkk you soooo much for your help brother !!!

  36. I'm good at visualising at night Idk why

  37. Read good advanced chess books like something by Tal or Fischer.
    Many games in there and they show a position and then often explain the next 5 or 10 rounds in coordinates only, so if you want to follow you have to visualize. This is a bit hard in the beginning but will def start to become easier. Just look at picture position again when you forget, and then try again. You will start to see the battle. Also this inspired me to do so because their games are so beautiful.

  38. Sir, I love to watch your contents. It's really helpful. Please upload some opening strategies on English opening.

  39. Has anyone gone from not being able to see in there head to being able to visualize in your head?

  40. 15:34: "Play with yourself in the shower, in the morning". This is great advice. The problem is, I've been doing that for years but it hasn't helped with my chess visualization at all!!! LOL. 😀 (But, seriously, thanks for all the great videos!)

  41. I am an ordinary player , I don't remmeber my games 🙁

  42. 15:31 – "Play with yourself in the shower in the morning" – i knew thats how chess champions start the day

  43. "My advice would be: play with yourself, when you feel comfortable enough find a chess buddy who's similar to your rating and ask him if he'd like to play blindfolded with you" – Hanging pawns 14:32

  44. Me and my friends once played a memory game similar to making a sequence of numbers, except we would make a sandwich. It can get really funny when you start adding breads on top of breads or 10+ different meats on top of each other. I think making it humorous also helped us memorize it easier.

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