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Measuring chess experts' single-use sequence knowledge: an archival study of departure from theoretical openings

Chassy, Philippe and Gobet, Fernand (2011) Measuring chess experts' single-use sequence knowledge: an archival study of departure from theoretical openings. PLOS ONE, 6 (11). ISSN 1932-6203

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Identification Number: 10.1371/journal.pone.0026692

Abstract

The respective roles of knowledge and search have received considerable attention in the literature on expertise. However, most of the evidence on knowledge has been indirect - e.g., by inferring the presence of chunks in long-term memory from performance in memory recall tasks. Here we provide direct estimates of the amount of monochrestic (single use) and rote knowledge held by chess players of varying skill levels. From a large chess database, we analyzed 76,562 games played in 2008 by individuals ranging from Class B players (average players) to Masters to measure the extent to which players deviate from previously known initial sequences of moves ("openings"). Substantial differences were found in the number of moves known by players of different skill levels, with more expert players knowing more moves. Combined with assumptions independently made about the branching factor in master games, we estimate that masters have memorized about 100,000 opening moves. Our results support the hypothesis that monochrestic knowledge is essential for reaching high levels of expertise in chess. They provide a direct, quantitative estimate of the number of opening moves that players have to know to reach master level.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/
Additional Information: © 2011 The Authors
Divisions: CPNSS
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Date Deposited: 10 Dec 2019 12:15
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2020 07:10
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/102860

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