How to Improve your Chess Visualization? | Chess Vision and Calculation Training | Alex Astaneh

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In this video, IM Alex Astaneh will introduce a new series that will help you to improve your chess visualization skills. First of all, what is visualization in chess? Visualization is the ability to picture a position in your mind, to hold that position in memory and to imagine how the pieces can move without actually moving them over the board. One of the biggest mistakes that we see, aspiring chess players make, is that they don’t practice their visualization skills anywhere near enough.

In order to improve your chess visualization, you should practice holding the position in your mind and developing your chess imagination. In this video, IM Alex Astaneh will show you one technique in which you can do this. In this series, eventually we will show you a variety of different techniques to constantly work on your chess visualization.

The technique shown in this video is a very simple one. It involves playing over master level games, in this case a game played by former world champion Anatoli Karpov, and what it involves, IM Alex Astaneh will read out the first three moves from either side but rather than playing out the moves, one by one, he will instead only play out the moves in the position after three moves have been played by each side. The challenge of this exercise is that you must try and imagine the position, follow along with your mind’s eye and only afterwards will he show the position. The beauty of this exercise is that you can progressively increase it. In this video, we start with three moves for each side. In future videos, we will show four moves for each side. You can then improve that to five moves each side, six moves each side and so on.

The world’s best chess players, like world champion Magnus Carlsen, are famous for being able to give simultaneous exhibitions where they play against ten, twenty or even more opponents at the same time wearing a blindfold around their head. That means that their visualization skills are so highly developed that they are able to hold all of these different positions in memory from the very beginning of a game to the end, all of them at the same time. Blindfold chess was considered miraculous for centuries, but now there is greater recognition of people who can keep track of more than one simultaneous blindfolded game. Grandmasters weren’t born knowing how to do that. It takes a lot of practice and patience, but after some time it will pay off.

[Event “Visualization “]
[Site “”]
[Date “2019”]
[Annotator “Alex Astaneh”]
1. d4 d5 2. Nc3 e6 3. e4 Bb4 4. e5 c5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 Ne7 7. Nf3 Nbc6 8. Be2
Qa5 9. O-O Qxc3 10. Bd2 Qb2 11. Rb1 Qxa3 12. Rb3 Qa2 13. Qc1 Nf5 14. Ra3 Nfxd4
15. Bd3 Nxf3+ 16. gxf3 Qxa3 17. Qxa3 O-O 18. Qxc5 Nxe5 19. Be2 Ng6 20. Qc7 f6
21. Bb4 Rf7 22. Qd8+ Nf8 23. Bb5 *


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150 Comments

  1. Hi there, great video! I have a question though. I can follow along without much issue when I'm looking at the board in the video but have significantly more difficulty holding the position in my mind without looking at the board (with my eyes closed for example). Is it worth trying to develop my ability to visualize positions without being able to see a board when I'll almost always need to be doing my visualization when playing over the board? Hope this makes sense, thanks for the great content.

  2. I need competitive gameplay, then I will quickly understand the board then work on calculating and so forth

  3. Buen método para práctica de Visualización,ojalá continúe con más vídeos gracias dé Cd Juárez Chihuahua México

  4. Great video! Quick question: Is it better to try to visualize the moves without looking at the board or is it ok to look at the board while visualizing?

  5. He look like sophisticated carryminati 😂😂

  6. Is tactical puzzles enough to develop my Visualization?

  7. he's going to fast. I would suggest just visualising the board coordinates and pieces first. It might be basic but you got to start from basics then build up to this video's level. And 2ndly its not easy to identify the pieces and board markings. Good excercise though.

  8. Hey Alex, you are such a good teacher, the way you talk and explain is brilliant ….thank you … well I think, it will take time to be able to have all the positions in mind 🙂 ….but I keep going.
    .

  9. I don't "see" the position in my head, but i know where the pieces are. Is that bad?

  10. ChessFactor this is an helpful video but how do i practice it by myself at home, please help me ChessFactor i really want to improve

  11. You’re going to fast !! 🤪 but I really like this exercise I’m going to use it today in chess club!!

  12. My last chess match was unbelievable. I have this classmate–let's call him Anthony–who has a learning disability. While I don't know what it's officially called, it limits his general ability to understand things. I can't tell you how many times he needed clarification in school. He's slow, Mr. "I don't get it." He always needed help in setting up the equipment for biology class (while we all could do it easily) and he had to switch out of our chemistry class to take his own individual (and simpler) assignments to Special Ed. Sure, he's hard working in school, but look at it this way: some students are both smart and hard working and thus get good grades. Some are smart but lazy and don't get the grades they have the natural brains/skills to get. And some students are hard working but…well, you know. I can't sugarcoat it, so I'll just not finish it. Not to mention, Anthony is an 18-year-old junior in high school. Well, he should've graduated by now. Apparently his learning disability and childhood speech delay kept him back two years, between preschool and middle school overall, so he's gonna graduate at age 20 (oh, man, that's sad). But what's even sadder is this: he beat me at chess. Chess is an intellectual game, requiring brains and strategy. I've always been good at it. I mean, it's no big deal if I lose a match to just any-ol-body, but if it's Anthony, that's just… wrong. Totally ridiculous. So I gotta ask…am I stupid?

  13. I've seen tons of chess channels. This is by far one of the best. It clearly shows the ideas and actually shows exercises to improve our chess.

  14. i imagine target squares lighting up orange when i wanna look for blockades, blunders, etc.

  15. my answer for Question at 5:02 is NO. you said last move was …Qa5 but your position has put in extra move O-O.

  16. Great video and love your website! This drill is great, but 3 moves was too hard for me to visualize. The speed they were read were also too fast. Could you consider making a movie/assignments on visualisation for lower rated players (1 to 2 moves?) Most beginners don't even consider the opponents respond before throwing out a move. This could get them on the correct path…

  17. You didn't say castle after Qa5 in the original set of moves!

  18. Just getting back into chess after a 30 year break. I’m a bit slow with algebraic moves, I was brought up on the old descriptive system, so by the time I’ve deciphered the moves you’ve moved on. More practice required to get faster…

  19. I literally can’t visualise almost anything
    not only in chess

  20. I liked this kind of training specially in the end where you can play all the game from the beginning in you're head, the satisfaction is here.

  21. I've been practicing this exercise over and over and I am struggling to form the whole position accurately. Should I be looking at the board on the screen the entire time while visualizing the pieces moving to the squares? Or would it help to look away at some point and imagine the pieces moving? Or close my eyes for any period of time and visualize? Any tips would be much appreciated. Thanks.

  22. I've been playing chess since grade school. Even though I participated in the National Games in the Philippines without improving my visualization skills it can't take me to the next level. This helps me a lot. Thanks!

  23. Just saw this on Lichess – this is a great method to use as 'deliberate practice'. I agree with some others that you could have perhaps allowed more time before announcing the next plays in each 3-turn-each sequence – but I just paused the video whilst I focused on memorising each move. I know this is an older video and you probably have a lot more now – but I think it would be good to talk about how to keep the other pieces which haven't recently been active in memory too (but I supposed that will come with time).

    I didn't mind you cutting away from the board to focus the video on you giving your explanations – as I felt that this was a good part of the practice of holding the board in memory. But you could maybe leave a little window in the corner that retains the chess board on screen for those that may find it useful.

    Liked and subscribed. Good content and very helpful.

  24. That went so fast my inner troll fell silent and resigned.
    I'll try this taking baby steps:. Read 3 moves ea. side, then
    check my visualization by setting up the position, working through games that way. But I can't argue whether this method helps or not, so good fishing!

  25. 15. Bd3 Nxf3+ are blunders from both

    White has lost all its advantage and black didn't take the opportunity.
    I'm wondering if you knew this

  26. 3:05 I heard: "Pawn to b4" and wondered why Karpov would play the Polish… b4, b5, Nc3? Nice line, never seen a Queen's Pawn opening transpose into the French Winawer

  27. should we imagine these moves with pieces on board or without pieces

  28. It wasn't until much later in my chess development that I realized that one must not just look at the board, but look at the "future board", and that all values become relative as you move the pieces in your mind. What seems absurd on the board NOW, in 3 moves makes a lot more sense. I call it "look-ahead", and instead of focusing on the static position, you must focus on the dynamics and what things look like 2 or more moves from now.

  29. Some have wondered why black resigned at the end of the video. Here is the explanation:
    In the final position, white is up in material (white has a queen for a rook and 3 pawns) and has a great positional advantage. On the one hand black’s bishop on c8 is pinned and therefore the rook on a8 is very passive. On the other hand, white has the strong bishop pair with a lot of attacking prospects. Eventually, white will win more material e.g. the rook on a8 if black plays Bd7 or the rook on f7 if white plays Be8. Black has no active counter play against white's threads and black probably realized after the move Bb5 that there is no chance for him and resigned the game. After white's last move 23.Bb5, he is threatening to play 24.Be8 in the next move. A possible sequence which shows that white is dominating is the following: 23.Bb5 a5 24.Ra1 Bd7 25.Qxa8 Bxb5 26.Rxa5 (this is the best move sequence according to Stockfish). Feel free to analyze the position with the help of a computer to evaluate black’s options.

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