März 21, 2023

The SCHACH-Process-Model (Update 2023) – International Version

The SCHACH-Process-Model (Update 2023) – International Version / Part one

„A chess game is a unit; playing it is a single feat,  one activity…“ Prof. Adriaan D. de Groot, chess researcher 1965, p. 14

[First some German sentences: Den folgenden Beitrag stellte ich erstmals beim internationalen Symposium „The Psychology of Skilled Chess“ in Helsinki 1990 vor. Für die vorliegende erweiterte und aktualisierte Fassung habe ich die englische Sprache des Vortrags beibehalten. Er bietet eine Zusammenschau und Weiterentwicklung  wichtiger wissenschaftlicher Erkenntnisse zum Denken, Fühlen und Handeln im Schach. Viele Gesichtspunkte wurden bereits in meinem Buch Schachpsychologie ab der 3. Auflage.1993 in Kap. 29 The SCHACH-Process-Model of Human Chess Playing aufgezeigt. Zum Verständnis des Themas Schach und Quantenphysik ist der folgende Beitrag nicht nötig. Hier einge zentrale Auszüge]

Towards integration: The „SCHACH-Process-Model“

Skillful chess playing depends on the combination or the simultaneous utilization of many chess-related capabilities. Surely, in addition to sophisticated chess knowledge and quick recognition of chess positions, the skills of forward-search, planning, calculating and evaluating are fundamental.

The consideration of one’s own strengths and weaknesses and those of one’s opponent as well as psychological playing are fundamental conditions for superior chess. Different players have their individual assets and shortcomings in the various skills that are required.

Components, Structures & Processes (Prostructures), Information Processing, Mental & Neuronal Activity

Obviously, all the aspects of chess-related thoughts, feelings and ways of acting are interconnected. This is reflected in the process-model, which will be presented below. The „SCHACH-Process-Model“ (SPM) is intended to describe and combine the processes which are elemental for skillful chess playing. It may be characterized as an integrative approach based on the works and psychological insights of the following authors:

Binet (1893, 1966), Cleveland (1907), Djakow, Petrowski and Rudik (1927), de Groot (1956, 1965, 1966), Newell and Simon (1972), Chase and Simon (1973), Simon and Chase (1973), Holding (1985), Lasker & Munzert (1999) and Munzert (1985 a, b; 1988, 1990, 1993, 1997, 2016, 2019, 2022).

This model was first introduced in the German language. The first letters of the most relevant terms constitute the German word SCHACH, which serves as the comprehensive label for the model.

The single steps or components can be regarded as phases as well as subsystems.):

The basic „SCHACH-Process-Model“ of human chess playing contains the following components or phases:

Sensory perception

Chunking, pattern recognition, first general orientation and evaluation [position file]

Hypotheses, first ideas, goals, scripts (typical developments) and plans – including mental images – assumptions and expectations about good moves [position file]

Accumulated working memory: Updated file / storage of the development of the game and the present position [game file]

Cognitive analysis and processing: utilization of knowledge, principles and heuristics (selective search); calculation and evaluation
Individual preferences and habits (openings, risky or aggressive style etc.)
Effects and consideration of psychological and psychic factors and emotional states, such as the current level of motivation (will to win), stress, emotions (joy, satisfaction, fear, frustration, anger)
Looking for the best, most disturbing, or just a satisfactory move and Checking and choosing

Human actions (move, propose or decline a draw offer, resign)



Combined Processing

It should be emphasized that the „SCHACH-Process-Model“ is still a simplified framework. It must be taken into account that the purpose of the model is to describe processes which do not always take place in an orderly way or as a rule in a linear direction (from sensory perception to action). They are instead intricately linked and often occur (almost) simultaneously.
In cybernetic terms it may be postulated that the model includes feedback which serves to monitor the flow of the processes. It also contains loops that allow a return from procedures which are currently taking place to previous steps; other phases may be bypassed or omitted…

Individual Differences

One of the advantages of the model is the possibility to describe individual differences, preferences, etc. of certain players within its various components and phases. General, as well as individual differences in the thought processes during the opening, middle and endgame can be depicted.

Chess and Basic Concepts of Cognitive Science

Basic concepts of psychology and cognitive science such as perception, visualization, attention, concentration, memory, working memory, learning, knowledge, cognition, neural networks, interaction of cognition and emotion, motivation, intuition, creativity, problem solving, planning and action can be brought to correspond with one or more of the model’s components.

We still have a difficult endgame… and part two of the model. There will be more information processing, neural networks and even quantum mechanics and chess.

Dr. Reinhard Munzert

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