Today I played the second day of a chess tournament, and I spent a little bit of time analyzing my games. I lost both of my games today, unfortunately, and I’ll write up a more full analysis of them when I get to it.
But something I learned quite poignantly, is that I seem to get “tunnel vision” sometimes when I’m analyzing a position. I’ve actually noticed this in other areas of my life as well. When I’m really focused on a particular problem or idea, I have a hard time stepping back, thinking outside of the box, and exploring a wider range of thoughts.
This was particularly painful in today’s game. In the position below, I had just played Rxf7 with ideas of moving the rook with discovered check and winning material, preferably the queen (which was on d8 at that moment). My opponent played …Qd2+ putting me in check. My goal was to get out of check so I could achieve my idea of moving the rook and winning material. I was so focused on doing it on the next move, that I completely missed the fact that I could have done it right away! If I had played Rf2+ that would have put my opponent in check and I would have won the queen.
I think there are a few ways to try to combat this.
First, there is a quote: “Think wide before you think deep”. This is good advice. Scanning the board for a variety of options, no matter how “silly” they may look, is a good first step. Rather than getting fixated on one idea and trying desperately to figure out how to make it work.
Second, I think having some kind of structured thinking. Having a “mental checklist” to go through before making a move, and making sure to go through this checklist. Looking for checks, captures, threats, all the ways to get out of check, etc. I know that I’ve found a sort of “checklist” has been helpful to me for avoiding this kind of problem in other areas.
It’s still something I need to work on, for sure. Hopefully the idea of “thinking wide” first will be helpful, and maybe putting together a checklist of things to think through on every move.
2 thoughts on “TIL – My Tunnel Vision in Chess”
Hey, it’s Ryan from the chess tourney, we should play some games online. If you want to, send me an email and we’ll trade usernames.
Hey Ryan! Just sent you an email. I also wrote a post about our game haha