, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 131-181

An Active Symbols Theory of Chess Intuition

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The well-known game of chess has traditionally been modeled in artificial intelligence studies by search engines with advanced pruning techniques. The models were thus centered on an inference engine manipulating passive symbols in the form of tokens. It is beyond doubt, however, that human players do not carry out such processes. Instead, chess masters instead carry out perceptual processes, carefully categorizing the chunks perceived in a position and gradually building complex dynamic structures to represent the subtle pressures embedded in the positions. In this paper we will consider two hypotheses concerning the underlying subcognitive processes and architecture. In the first hypothesis, a multiple-leveled chess representational structure is presented, which includes distance graphs (with varying levels of quality) between pieces, piece mobilities, and abstract roles. These representational schemes seem to account for numerous characteristics of human player’s psychology. The second hypothesis concerns the extension of the architecture proposed in the Copycat project as central for modeling the emergent intuitive perception of a chess position. We provide a synthesis on how the postulated architecture models chess intuition as an emergent mixture of simultaneous distance estimations, chunk perceptions, abstract role awareness, and intention activations. This is an alternative model to the traditional AI approaches, focusing on the philosophy of active symbols.