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Chess is a board game played between two players. It is played on a chessboard, which is a square-checkered board with 64 squares arranged in an eight-by-eight grid. At the start, each player controls sixteen pieces: one king, one queen, two rooks, two knights, two bishops, and eight pawns. The object of the game is to checkmate the opponent's king, whereby the king is under immediate attack (in "check") and there is no way to remove or defend it from attack on the next move.

The current form of the game emerged in Europe during the second half of the 15th century after evolving from a much older game of Indian origin. Aspects of art are found in chess composition. Theoreticians have developed extensive chess strategies and tactics since the game's inception. One of the goals of early computer scientists was to create a chess-playing machine. Chess is now deeply influenced by the abilities of chess programs and the opportunity for online play. In 1997 Deep Blue became the first computer to beat the reigning World Champion in a match when it defeated Garry Kasparov.

Psychological research[]

There is an extensive scientific literature on chess psychology.[1] [2] [3][4][5] Alfred Binet and others showed that knowledge and verbal, rather than visuospatial, ability lies at the core of expertise.[6][7] Adriaan de Groot, in his doctoral thesis, showed that chess masters can rapidly perceive the key features of a position.[8] According to de Groot, this perception, made possible by years of practice and study, is more important than the sheer ability to anticipate moves. De Groot also showed that chess masters can memorize positions shown for a few seconds almost perfectly. The ability to memorize does not, alone, account for this skill, since masters and novices, when faced with random arrangements of chess pieces, had equivalent recall (about half a dozen positions in each case). Rather, it is the ability to recognize patterns, which are then memorized, which distinguished the skilled players from the novices. When the positions of the pieces were taken from an actual game, the masters had almost total positional recall.[9]

More recent research has focused on chess as mental training; the respective roles of knowledge and look-ahead search; brain imaging studies of chess masters and novices; blindfold chess; the role of personality and intelligence in chess skill, gender differences, and computational models of chess expertise. In addition, the role of practice and talent in the development of chess and other domains of expertise has led to a lot of research recently. Ericsson and colleagues have argued that deliberate practice is sufficient for reaching high levels of expertise, like master in chess.[10] However, more recent research indicates that factors other than practice are important. For example, Gobet and colleagues have shown that stronger players start playing chess earlier, that they are more likely to be left-handed, and that they are more likely to be born in late winter and early spring.[11]


  1. Chess is even called the "drosophila" of cognitive psychology and artificial intelligence (AI) studies, because it represents the domain in which expert performance has been most intensively studied and measured.
    (March 2007). Individual differences in chess expertise: A psychometric investigation. Acta Psychologica 124 (3): 398–420.
  2. De Groot, Adriaan, Gobet, Fernand (1996). Perception and memory in chess: Heuristics of the professional eye, Assen, NL: Van Gorcum.
  3. Gobet, Fernand, de Voogt, Alex, & Retschitzki, Jean (2004). Moves in mind: The psychology of board games, Hove, UK: Psychology Press.
  4. Holding, Dennis (1985). The psychology of chess skill, Erlbaum.
  5. Saariluoma, Pertti (1995). Chess players' thinking: A cognitive psychological approach, Routledge.
  6. Binet, A. (1894). Psychologie des grands calculateurs et joueurs d'échecs (in French), Paris: Hachette.
  7. Robbins, T.W. (1996). Working memory in chess. Memory & Cognition: 83–93.
  8. de Groot, A.D. (1946 (first Dutch ed.); 1965 (English ed.)). Thought and choice in chess, The Hague: Mouton Publishers.
  9. Richards J. Heuer, Jr. Psychology of Intelligence Analysis Center for the Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency 1999 (see Chapter 3).
  10. Ericsson, K. A., Krampe, R. Th., & Tesch-Römer, C. (1993). The role of deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance. PDF (1.25 MiB) Psychological Review, 100, 363–406. Retrieved 15 July 2007.
  11. Gobet, F. & Chassy, P. (in press). Season of birth and chess expertise. PDF (65.8 KB) Journal of Biosocial Science.
    Gobet, F. & Campitelli, G. (2007). The role of domain-specific practice, handedness and starting age in chess.PDF (196 KB) Developmental Psychology, 43, 159–172. Both retrieved 15 July 2007.

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