TIL – My Tunnel Vision in Chess

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

  1. 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.

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