Developing Chess Board Vision (Part 1)
Board vision is the ability to see how the pieces move and interact on the chess board. This skill is a critical part of a player's chess foundation. One of the best ways to develop board vision is by playing lots and lots of games! The other way is through board vision exercises - the subject of this article.
Make sure you read through the entire article. At the end, we'll present a recommended practice schedule for board vision exercises that will get you moving in the right direction.
Rook Vision, Bishop Vision, and Queen Vision
The Rook, Bishop, and Queen have relatively simple moves (Rook = straight line; Bishop = diagonal line; Queen = combination of the two). They are the best pieces to work on first.
Exercise 1: Visualizing Movement Lines
This is a simple exercise to get your mind into chess mode.
Start with an empty board. Place a Rook on one of the centre squares. Visualize the lines along which the Rook can move. Trace your finger along the lines of movement - both the horizontal and vertical lines. Physically using your finger helps to lock the pattern into your mind.
Now replace the Rook with a Bishop. Repeat the process of visualizing the movement lines, and tracing them with your finger. Now replace the Bishop with a Queen. Repeat the process. This whole exercise shouldn't take more than a minute or 2.
Exercise 2: Visualizing Rook Captures
Start with an empty board. Now place a black Pawn on one of the centre squares. Take a second black Pawn and place it on a1. These two black Pawns are your targets. Take a white Rook. This is your attacker. Visualize a square that you can place the Rook on that will attack both pawns at the same time (this is known as forking the black Pawns). Place the Rook on this square. Physically placing the Rook helps reinforce the pattern in your mind.
Now visualize any other square that you could place the Rook on that would fork the black Pawns. Move the Rook to this square. Repeat this process until you have identified all squares where you can fork the black Pawns. (Hint: For this first position, there are two forking squares - see the diagram)
Now, move the black Pawn on a1 to b1. Repeat the process of identifying all the forking squares. Make sure to keep physically placing the White Rook on each of these squares.
Repeat this exercise on each square, moving the black Pawn through c1-d1-e1-f1-g1-h1 (always keep the other black pawn stationary in the centre). Then move the black Pawn to a2, and continue through b2-c2-d2-e2-f2-g2-h2. Continue moving the Pawn along each rank, until you have been through all 64 squares. As you move the Pawn along the ranks, you'll have to skip over the square where the other stationary Pawn is located (you can't have two pieces on the same square at one time obviously).
Repeat the same process as in Exercise 2, except replace the white Rook with a white Bishop.
Exercise 4: Visualizing Queen Captures
Repeat the same process as in Exercise 2, except replace the white Rook with a white Queen. This one requires a bit more patience and practice than Exercise 2 and 3.