Poor Board Vision as a Common Early Symptom in Chess
Igor Chelmodeev, Magazine 64, #15, 1989

Poor Board Vision as a Common Early Symptom in Chess


It is becoming necessary for the attention of chess educators, instructors, coaches, trainers, teachers and parents to be drawn to one circumstance which seems to be so slight that they do not even consider it their duty to notice it. That thing is the following: they are responsible for the unchecked spread of a serious condition infecting an entire population. Where? In the mind of chess beginner, causing a severe, chronic disorder, called poor board vision.

And chess educators, do they see it? No, they do not. Is this intentional? No, it is professional.

This what the human race (by way of cognitive sciences, complex-emergent system's theory, relational theory, educational psychology, learning theory, pedagogy) know all too well in the 21-st century, chess educators ignore.

How is the infection caught? We are being infected during the very First Hour of chess. Our teachers unwittingly infect us when using the traditional way which teaches no concepts but facts, details, technicalities; the existing method is ineffective and "fundamentally false" (Nimzovich's First Lesson, Shakhmatny Listok, How I Became a Grandmaster, 1929; first published in full in English (in my translation), in The Chess Journalist of America, Vol XL No 4, Fall 2011).

When, one day, we teach someone chess, we are spreading the virus in the same fashion.

This virus infects the chess mind, it takes over parts of the brain, programming us with habits and subconscious instructions that will detour us away from what an effective thought process should be. The virus diverts us from what would otherwise provide us with a superior board vision and ultimately ensure a life-time enjoyment in the game.

The infection and resulting disease slow down our progress in chess. Since the process takes place deep in the subconscious mind, as we move forward, we feel that chess becomes less and less fun, and more of a drag. Why? There is no meaning and understanding in what the old traditional method is teaching. We all love success with our hard wired impulse to triumph. Without it, we may feel our motivation is slipping away. We may get less excited about the game than we were in the beginning. Finally, we may totally lose our confidence and interest in the game and - give up altogether.

Jens Bleul
Jens Bleul

The moment has come for us to raise our voices. There are moments when even the human conscience can take the stand and order chess educators to listen.

We can certainly begin to change this situation and start disinfecting the learning environment. What we need is a paradigm shift when the foundation (a concept, law, theory) that provides a model from which springs everything else, is displaced. It happens when the basic, underlying assumptions that we have been living with, change. Every paradigm shift takes time to penetrate the teaching community. It takes even longer for the new view of the (chess) world to begin being adopted, and finally, to become generally accepted (for example, sixty years after Copernicus published the new heliocentric theory, there was only 15 scholars in all Europe who supported the new view).

The time has come for the old, prehistoric way of teaching to be replaced by a New-Age Square One. No matter how dark the night may be, the horizon at the end must bathe in daylight.

Better chess starts with more effective board vision.

Better board vision starts with Piece Relationships.

Any complex system that exists (ecosystems, organisms, society, human brain, the living cell, game of chess, football match, the entire universe) is created and can only be understood by the relations between its objects, elements, members. Position, value and other properties of elements are only meaningful relative to others.

It is becoming obvious that in order to understand how a system, organism, or society works we need to learn the art of interconnectedness and how system members collaborate and coordinate their action around a common direction and goals ("the main chess principle throughout," Capablanca).

It is there that the entire future of Chess Square One and all subsequent squares lies.

And the future will, what is being done, come to pass.

This is the aim, this is the harbor. Until yesterday, it was only the truth, today it is a reality.


Do You think we should fight and treat this common chronic chess disease?

or no need for that, everything is just fine?


Further reading:

- Nimzovich: A Big Damn Fool? 

- How Hidden Power Structure Rules the World

- Chess Axioms

- Chess Goes Backwards to Find its Roots

- The Origins of Wood Pushing in Chess

- How Come There Are 99.5% Patzers in Chess?

- New-Age Challenges Susan Polgar

- Chess Cart Before the Horse

- How to Build a Better Chess Teacher (the Spanish version can be found here)