How do you learn Board Vision?



To cut to the chase, I'm a beginner. I've found that, not only for me but for most beginners, board vision is the biggest issue. But I've never found a resource meant to help you tih that.

Tactics, yes. Openings and endgames, yes. But board vision? None.

To clarify, by "board vision", I mean noticing hanging pieces or figuring out what pieces WILL be hanging if you move a certain piece...stuff like that. How on earth do you learn that? Any resources?



That's tactics...


Tactics training here seems to consist of figuring out how to force pins and skewers and things like that. I'm talking about when you're focused on one part of the board when meanwhile there's an obviously hanging piece on the other side...

It sounds so obvious, but trust me, for beginners, it's not. And I KNOW it's beginners in general, and not just me, because in live chess, I play people who aren't ranked a lot higher than me, and it's the same thing.


That's still tactics. Seeing if a piece is hanging after a combination is tactics. Seeing if a piece is attacked more times than it's defended is also tactics.


All right, do you learn that aspect of tactics? Any ideas, then?


I think I understand where you're coming from, I've been there. The way I got past that was making an effort to be patient while considering each move, and playing more games. Also, I played mostly 30 minute games, so you have enough time to consider the consequences of a move.

Caveat: I'm stll not very good at 10 minute games and still leave pieces hanging sometimes. My strategy is that at the outset, you will have to go through things slowly and consider every possibility to prevent hanging pieces. As I play more and more games, I can see myself quickly weeding these possibilities out. (Note: don't get too overzealous weeding out moves based solely on losing material either, they aren't necessarily bad moves)


That's calculation.


Stepping-stone diagram.


Hi Bellomy,

I second the "play slow games" advice. As beginners, we need plenty of time to think. More specifically, we need time to repeat  thought process "tick lists" on EACH and EVERY move. Over time, this bahviour will become engrained (and far faster). Correspondence chess is great for this, but live chess at 30 minutes or longer will work too.

Where do you find the "tick lists"? Besides the excellent info on I recommend Dan Heisman's "Novice Nook" column at ChessCafe. His website also has all the articles. I strongly suggest you start at #1 and consume them - slowly!

AND...keep up the tactics trainer, perhaps with the clock switched off. Go for accuracy, not rating pointsInnocent


A lot of it just experience. Even though tactics trainer seems artificial, after doing enough problems you will find there's a little voice in the back of your mind that starts shouting out at you "hanging piece!" or "Danger!" or "man, did he just open himself up".  An analogy is learning to drive... in the beginning you have to concentrate hard just to avoid hitting old ladies on the sidewalk and not T-bone any cop cars. But after you get more experienced, you develop a sense for when some guy two lanes over seems to be going just a little too slow and is probably angling to cut in fromt of you without signalling.  It's hard to teach this directly.  Checklists, I think, help train your inner voice too. Maybe I'm totally wrong (I've only been playing a year and a bit) but that's been my experience so far.


Board vision is the ability to immediately take into account the whole board instead of just the portion where the action (supposedly) is. The typical board vision puzzles therefore usually involve long range pieces moving from one side of the board to the other issuing a lethal threat, or covering a vital square from way back. E.g. I have a particular tendency to overlook rooks covering some pawn horizontally (not vertically) on the other side of the board. This is a board vision error.

Board vision is to be distinguished from visualisation ability, which is "seeing" a position clearly n (particular) moves from now. A visualisation error e.g. occurs when you believe that after a chain of n moves a piece is still there covering or attacking some square when in fact it has already moved elsewhere by then. 


you should play blindfold chess to improve calculations and tactics


I asked Dan Heisman if Jeff Coakley's books of chess puzzles help with board vision And he says they do. Check them out here.

John_Doe18 wrote:

you should play blindfold 

To enhance your board vision? I lol'd.


Maurice Ashley has an app for iPhone called BC Take. It's a chess puzzle app that helps me with board vision.


Well the thing that helps me is to think after each and every move by either myself or my opponent.. A) What does that move allow me to do that I couldn't before.. and  B)What can my opponent now do that he couldn't do before?  I find doing this every move cuts down on a lot of those "oops" blunders.  


This is all excellent advice, thank you very much! I find tcorrespondance chess too long and boring and ten minute chess too short, so I generally play the half hour games, which are fun and which you all said are good for learning this type of thing. Much appreciated!




A fun way to learn board vision,... Chess Mazes.

they seem silly but are actually very educational. The idea actually a russian one used in their chess schools. Alberston has 2 books out now with them.

paulgottlieb wrote:

In the beginning, you need to force yourself to go through the same thinking process on every move:

1) Look at your opponent's last move. If he could move again, what could he do to you? Does he have any checks? Does he have any captures? Can he threaten mate? Going down this checklist should protect you from overlooking any obvious threats. You will quit just dropping pieces or getting mated by surprise

2)If there are no threats that you need to meet, look and see if you have some tactics. Do you have any checks? Can you capture anything? Can you threaten mate? Look at all these possibiities. You will start taking advantage of your opponent's blunders. You will be the one pocketing the loose pieces or surprising your opponent with an unseen mate.

3)When you have decided on a move, make the move in your mind and go through step 1) one more time--this time as a safety check. Will your opponent have any checks? Any captures?

If your move is safe, make it.

This seems like a lot to do one each move, but if you make a conscientious effort to go through this thinking process on every move, you will find that it can be done quite quickly, and will soon become instinctive

Paul, uhmmm this maybe hard for someone that is just getting their feet wet in the game, I was thinking of a desired checklist too, how about developing the thought process: familiarity concepts, and pattern recognition,