# How Much Memory Needed in Chess?

• #1

So,  I'm a beginner (less than one year of exp.) and have a rating of 900-something online here at Chess.com (I don't know exact rating, b/c haven't checked and lazy right now)....please don't laugh!  I'm still learning.

My question, however, is how much memory is needed to improve in chess?

I'm a beginner now and have literally memorized close to nothing in chess aside from two openings for WHITE and one opening each as a response to e4 and d4 white openings for BLACK.  And when I say I've "memorized" these, I mean the first 7 or 8 moves of those openings and nothing that enters the middle game.

I figured that would be the absolute bare minimum needed.  It's worked OK for me so far as I'm at least able to get into a middle-game without being mated lol (as I was in the past).

But, I know there are many more openings for both W and B and so many variations of them ....

i.)  At what point are memory skills required and kick in in order to succeed?

ii.)  Is memory mostly only for openings or does it apply to the middle game too (in which case it would seem endless, given how many possibilities there exist there)?

iii.)  What type of memory skills are we talking about?  ...Weird question...I know.  But it's interesting to me, b/c chess is a visual game and I wonder if anyone literally just memorizes lines in algebraic notation only (and then plugs them into the game visually later) or if they memorize these openings visually in their mind?

Feel free to add more comments on other tangential topics as well.  Your feedback is appreciated.  Discussion would be interesting too (feel free to share own exp. too).

TVM!!!

• #2

I would say not a whole lot short of master level.

It's more important to understand the ideas behind the openings rather than memorizing lines.

Your opponent will inevitably deviate from the memorized line 5-10 moves in and if you understand why those moves are played then you will understand why their deviation is weak and how to take advantage of it.

If you just have memorized lines then you will just be confused.

Having said that, some memorization skills will help greatly.  They're just not required.

• #3
wlcgeek wrote:

i.)  At what point are memory skills required and kick in in order to succeed?

ii.)  Is memory mostly only for openings or does it apply to the middle game too (in which case it would seem endless, given how many possibilities there exist there)?

iii.)  What type of memory skills are we talking about?  ...Weird question...I know.  But it's interesting to me, b/c chess is a visual game and I wonder if anyone literally just memorizes lines in algebraic notation only (and then plugs them into the game visually later) or if they memorize these openings visually in their mind?

i)
I don't know, but I'm not there yet, and not even close.  If I had to guess then I'd say only professional players need to worry about whether or not their memory is good enough to be able to remember all the line (mostly just openings).  I'd guess is very much possible to be a GM with just an average memory.

ii)
Memory is mostly for pattern recognition in middlegames.  And I'd say 99% of it goes towards tactics and static evaluations.  You see static evaluations by strong players all the time when they can say things like "oh, Rb6 here and black is just winning" even though there are no tactics.  What they're doing is picking out important features (like pawn structure, or yes, tactics) and based on previous experiance with simiar positions (from books and their own games) they render these verdicts.

This is also what guides calculation.  GMs can play 50 board simuls and not lose a game even though it's almost certain every single player is calculating more on their game than the GM is.  The GM simply reaches into their long term memory, picks out the important features while you calculate a bunch of useless stuff heh.

iii)
People memorize patterns (no, not the notation hah).  Pawn structures are a good example because there are only, say, 10-12 basic structures in all of chess and you can read a lot into a position just looking at the pawns.

When people remember a whole game it's not route memorization (knight to c5 before rook to d8) they're remembering the moves in sequence because it tells a story so to speak... white pressured the knight so black moves it over here or some such thing.  Just like if I asked you about a movie you just watched you're not remembering by route every line of dialouge, but you can still tell me what happened, the important points, and probably quote some dialouge too.

Which is probably a very nice example.  Say I play over a game by Bobby Fischer, I'm not going to remember every move, but just like a movie I'll pick out 1 or 2 critical moments and also the overall theme or idea of the game.  When I get in a similar situation in my own game I'll have a guide to what may or may not be important.  And this is why I say you really only need an average memory.  If you can remember the storyline of a movie you can be good at chess.  When opening preparation matters a lot (as a professional GM) then you may worry about if your memory may hold you back.

(and games start to tell their stories after you learn about the game... don't make up stories haha.  Read a strategy book for example).

• #4

Mention Openings several times.  Too much.

I can not mention the number of times i have tried an opening and knew nothing about it and won 3-4 games consecutively the first time i used against a player. This should bring a smile on your face. How?

Understanding how to use your pieces is key. Looking for weak spots in your opponents situation. Avoiding creating weak spots in your own situation. More advanced...... forcing a weakness in your opponent situation. Know opening principles at the same time they do not have to all be followed but knowing them helps greatly which is better than knowing an opening. At the same time it is good to know an opening but basics will always come down to how you use your pieces.

Top players have this one thing in common...... defense wins games. Memory? If you can remember what happened in a couple movies you will do fine.

Ok say it is off. Chess.com allows one to have a book to read while playing. So take your time and use your chess book as a reference. If you do not have a book use bing.com and reference things like Opening Principles. If you want to use an opening find the main line of that opening. Find the most populat defenses used against it and the main of that defense. All of this you can read while playing. As time goes along you will have to read less while playing and it is more natural.

• #5

"i.)  At what point are memory skills required and kick in in order to succeed? "

Well, I would say that memory mostly needed for Bishop+Knight mate in the endgame.
You do not really have to memorize openings. You need to understand them. The biggest mistake is to memorize the openings without understanding them, because when your opponent plays a non-book move, you won't know what to do. Yes, there are forcing variations in openings which you should know, but who told you that you have to play openings with lot of theory? (Ok, if you memorize 4-5 moves from an opening that is not so bad, but you should rather understand it.) At your level, you should simply follow the opening principles.

"ii.)  Is memory mostly only for openings or does it apply to the middle game too (in which case it would seem endless, given how many possibilities there exist there)?"

It could be useful to memorize mating patterns, but they are happening so rarely, I think it is just time wasting. Improve your thinking skill.

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