On Intuition

Dec 1, 2010, 7:15 AM |

All perception of truth is the detection of an analogy we reason from our hands to our head. - Henry David Thoreau

What is chess intuition? It is a form of knowledge that it very fast and based on unconscious processes. The intuition of something is similar to the immediate sight of the solution: Archimede's EUREKA.

In high technical fields, such as Chess and Science, intuition is often seen going hand in hand with expertise in the field and a sound and solid foundation of knowledge. From such a point of view, intuition is like Plato's reminescence of the World of Ideas.

Intuition is not a wild guessing but a deeply educated guess. Hence, it must be based on situational awareness: the more we master a given field, the more we can be aware of the situation we face in it, the more we can see solutions.

This is to me not entirely satisfying. Is it really true that we must master a given field to have good intuitions? I don't think so. The matter of the fact is that intuition is based on analogies: we see similarities between situations so that we can apply our learned skill from a field to another. Hence, intuition "lives" upon mastership and remembrance of knowledge but, thanks to associations and analogy, it can also be knowledge of other fields.

Can one play intuitive Chess without deep knowledge of Chess itself? Well, to a certain extent, the answer is yes. If one, for example, understands war strategy, he/she can use analogy and guess good moves without a deep knowledge of the game. Of course, it is out of question to achieve mastership in such a way.

Can intuition be trained? Thinking in terms of guiding lines and abstract principles, which can be remembered and applied unconsciously, helps the practice of analogy and intuition.