What's your mental checklist during a game?

NikkiLikeChikki wrote:

I have ADHD and when I played classical OTB chess, I had a pretty significant checklist. This crashes and burns in fast time controls.

1. Is this still theory. If so, what am I supposed to do again?

2. What is my opponent trying to do with that last move. What is their plan. Where can their pieces go and do they put me in danger. Especially double check where knight can go with two moves because those little devils can be tricksy. Is this setting up some kind of tactic that I'm afraid of?

3. If I don't already have a plan, I try to come up with one. If I do have a plan, is it still a good one? Did that last move change my plan? How do I make my plan happen?

4. Look at every one of your opponent's pieces one by one. Are there any weak squares that I can exploit. Are there any backwards pawns or pieces that are either hanging or weakly defended that I can exploit.  If so, how do I make that happen? If I could magically move my pieces some place on the board, where would that be? Can I get them there, and if so, how?

5. What are my candidate moves? How do they best serve my plan. What are the upsides/downsides of each move.

6. Did I miss any tactics that I could make work? Do a spot check for possible tactics including any piece sacrifices that might work. Look especially hard at the king and queen to see if maybe they might be vulnerable.

7. Decide upon a move.... then double check to see that it's not hanging anything and is not susceptible to any tactics.

8. Stop. Don't move. Go through the checklist again.

9. Stop. Don't move. Go through the checklist again.

10. Move

This works really well in bullet chess.... just kidding.

In scholastic chess, I was the kid that used up all their time while everyone else was done in 20 minutes. Some kids hated this and sometimes called me the Human Time Machine. Needless to say, this list less practical as time controls get shorter and shorter, but it's very useful in long format games. I forced myself to do this even if the move was obvious, because as I said, I have ADHD, and am incapable of visualizing the board. If I didn't I would forget where my pieces were and hang my queen... which I do routinely in short time controls.


My own mental checklist is very short so this was very helpful, thanks! happy.png

I calculate non stop
marqumax wrote:
I calculate non stop

For me, calculating is typically the LAST step in selecting a move.


I cry


'Calculate' is different from 'observe'.
But many try to argue they're the same.
They're not.  Unless you want to have it that way - but that's going to lead to massive errors and inefficiency ...
except for many players - the observing is done subconsciously.

"hat is going on in the position? 
What did the last move do at its arrival square and also at its exit square?  What does that last move 'mean'? 
Why did the opponent make that move? 
What is the threat?  Is there one?
What is protecting what from what ?
(including if there's no attack on whatever yet) 
Is somebody in check? 
Are there checks available to either side?
Are there mate threats available? 
(To either side - whoever's move.)
What about captures? 
Is something hanging?"

None of this is 'calculation'. 
Neither in the current position nor in 'lookahead positions'.   

"What is each King's situation ? 
How about both Queens - rooks - right on down to the pawns?"
I think players know - whether they're consciously aware of it or not - that if they skip or ignore these steps - they're going to lose.  Or not improve.

But the subconscious steps in and says:
" I've got this.  You take care of the calculations. 
You compare carefully prepared sequences of moves -
I'll do the 'motif stuff'."

That's only part of it though - then there's misdirection.
Often takes the form of assigning a theme - instead of observing - and then making the wrong calculations.
Regarding 'misdirection' - people mistakenly believe that can only come from a person.  Or only from another person.
They're wrong on both !    happy.png
Even as we speak - hundreds of thousands of people are being misdirected to bad moves or chess inefficiency on the clock or both -
by the position in front of them !!
Count on it !   
I've got another idea - its a short one.  I'll put it next post.


Nobody posted - so I'll post this very short idea.
Would you believe that you can actually ask yourself -
as you are making up your mind to move - like this:
"Am I about to make a mistake?
Has the position misled me somehow?
Have I misinterpreted this situation maybe?"

Believe it or not - your mind might actually reply to you - if you listen to it ...
Your Mind replying to You:
"Yes.  You're about to make a mistake!
Look over your thoughts just now and find out where you were sloppy - dismissive - assuming or whatever and fix it. 
I know there's a mistake at this point but you have to find it yourself."

Or your mind might tell you:
"No.  We're good here. 
If this is wrong its not like its something we're going to find soon enough.  You have to move.  Get it done!"