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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  1. 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.

  2. I can’t follow along as quickly as you say the moves. I have some work to do…

  3. A tip: Let the viewer have a little bit more time to visualize the position. That extra second helps alot (otherwise it feels like this is just for visualization in blitz).
    But great video otherwise!

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