I have discovered some interesting things. First note is more of an aside, I just logged into FICS, haven’t played a game there in almost 2 weeks it seems. I start a game and immediately my internet connection, which used to go out multiple times a day (when I played on FICS) and require me to reset the router, suddenly goes out again after not having gone out in nearly 2 weeks. Gee, I wonder why.
More important note, I have come to some conclusions about chess study. Most important thing is playing solitaire chess, you take a game, cover the moves with index card(s) and try to guess for one side. I liked the Bronstein book for this because the Veinstein author would typically point out where the losing side last had a drawing variation. Whereas, the Geller book had awesome games as well, but IMHO Geller doesn’t wring his hands exactly about where his opponent threw away the draw, just the opposite I don’t think he cared too much, if at all, unless it was a teachable moment regarding his attack. So for that reason, I didn’t like it as much (yes, I realize you had a quicker win with blah blah, but that wasn’t what I was interested in, nor the opening theory so much since the rest of the game anlysis didn’t draw me in enough other than to rifle through it)
But getting back to the point about “solitaire chess”. It forced me to look at threats, and threat evaluations that I was simply missing, but mostly just noticing the threats for both sides. I used to think chess was top-down where, like most endeavors, you start with a goal, and then implement that goal. No, chess is not like that! Chess is bottom-up, forget where you are going, where is it safest to cross the street? (that analogy again) One starts with the details and from there works their way up to what could be passed off as a concept, but not the other way around. It does help to evaluate a position conceptually, particularly in endgames for example, but that is not how one crosses the street, and in chess the big accomplishment is crossing the dangerous street! (for both players)
So, when I play solitaire, it is not for “ideas” from the game, it is for recognizing threats, evaluating them, and making calculations that lead to a plan based on that. Sure, there is intuition, but that is more about just noticing the features on the board, such as where all of the pieces are and how immobile they are (blocked out of play for how many moves).
As far as the ChessTiger posts about visualizing during a game, yes, it does help me to close my eyes and visualize a sequence if my eyes get too nervous looking at the board, and to some extent that is natural to have that problem. Two of my opponents who won against me recently also closed their eyes during the game. I don’t know if they picked it up while watching me do it or not. But aside from the “nervous eyes” deal, it is not necessary to close one’s eyes. I looked at tht pictures of that GM on Ivan’s site the other day, looking past his opponent, and no doubt he is visualizing the position, and I think this is probably more common way to do it, although sometimes closing one’s eyes is easier at first.
But again, here is the point, I am lets say conceptualizing the position through visualization. For example, I notice that Nb3-a5 (dark square) is controlling the light squares c6 and c4. Wait, stop right there, I am “conceptualizing” the position. Who does that when they are looking at the board? They may notice that instantly by looking, without making a visual error (which is easier to do with ones eyes open and looking at the board!), but they aren’t going to internalize that in the same way necessarily, it was just a glance after all (I am sure great blitz players learn to internalize the position, but that only makes my point), a glance is something easily forgotten, requring a second or third glance, and then perphaps still forget all about or ignore it, and then wonder where their “concentration” went.
BTW, when starting out trying to visualize, I recommend closing the eyes because it immediately gets rid of “retained image” mistakes (continuing to see pieces where they are currently at). At longer time controls, it’s not necessary to do this and I think it can also be convenient do it away from the board if your opponent is breaking your concentration by giving you “looks” and such. Some opponents are much more “naturally” annoying than others with all the weird crap they do that breaks their opponent’s concentration (IOW, you have to re-analyze a line every time you start paying attention to their bad mannerisms).
I guess a funny aside to this is that when I think of a chessplayer who really visualized the board, “conceptualized it”, I think of Frank Marshall. Google images or look at any famous photo of Marshall. I used to think he was just reminiscing about his chess career in this one famous photo, but then it hit me that while he may have been doing that, he was also conceptualizing a chess position at the time, most likely.