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Heather Sheridan, Eyal M. Reingold; Chess players' eye movements reveal rapid recognition of complex visual patterns: Evidence from a chess-related visual search task. Journal of Vision 2017;17(3):4. doi: 10.1167/17.3.4.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
To explore the perceptual component of chess expertise, we monitored the eye movements of expert and novice chess players during a chess-related visual search task that tested anecdotal reports that a key differentiator of chess skill is the ability to visualize the complex moves of the knight piece. Specifically, chess players viewed an array of four minimized chessboards, and they rapidly searched for the target board that allowed a knight piece to reach a target square in three moves. On each trial, there was only one target board (i.e., the “Yes” board), and for the remaining “lure” boards, the knight's path was blocked on either the first move (the “Easy No” board) or the second move (i.e., “the Difficult No” board). As evidence that chess experts can rapidly differentiate complex chess-related visual patterns, the experts (but not the novices) showed longer first-fixation durations on the “Yes” board relative to the “Difficult No” board. Moreover, as hypothesized, the task strongly differentiated chess skill: Reaction times were more than four times faster for the experts relative to novices, and reaction times were correlated with within-group measures of expertise (i.e., official chess ratings, number of hours of practice). These results indicate that a key component of chess expertise is the ability to rapidly recognize complex visual patterns.
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