Chess And Critical Thinking?

It’s always good to see articles suggesting connections between chess and the development of the mind. So on those grounds it was good to see this article suggesting that chess is a way to develop critical thinking. Here’s a quote:

It’s not so much learning, memorization and regurgitation — chess is really a method of thinking about how to think about things. Lots of great mathematicians are expert chess players.

Yet studies cast doubt on this, suggesting instead that memory actually plays a massive role. The ground breaking studies of Adriaan de Groot on how strong players select a move suggest that the most important part of the process occurs during the first few seconds of a player seeing a position. Strong players will actually recognize typical positions and in many cases they just KNOW what to do. There is also a process of testing and falsification in which reason and good thinking skills are involved, but unlike memory this does not appear to be central to playing strength.

Of course those without this kind of pattern bank may not experience chess in this way and for them critical thinking may well be central. There are also some very strong players with very high IQs for whom ‘thinking’ plays a larger than usual role. But this doesn’t mean that a highly intelligent person will necessarily be great at chess, they first have to dedicate themselves and absorb many thousands of different patterns and strategies.





Author: NigelD

Nigel Davies is an International Chess Grandmaster living in St. Helens in the UK. The winner of 15 international tournaments he is also a former British U21 and British Open Quickplay Champion and has represented both England and Wales on several occasions. These days Nigel teaches chess through his chess training web site, Tiger Chess, which has articles, recommendations, a monthly clinic, videos and courses. His students include his 15 year old son Sam who is making rapid progress with his game. Nigel has written a number of chess books that are available at Amazon: