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The perceptual aspect of skilled performance in chess: Evidence from eye movements

Abstract

Expert and intermediate chess players attempted to choose the best move in five chess positions while their eye movements were monitored. Experts were faster and more accurate than intermediates in choosing the best move. Experts made fewer fixations per trial and greater amplitude saccades than did intermediates, but there was no difference in fixation duration across skill groups. Examining the spatial distribution of the first five fixations for each position by skill group revealed that experts produced more fixations on empty squares than did intermediates. When fixating pieces, experts produced a greater proportion of fixations on relevant pieces than did intermediates. It is argued that expert chess players perceptually encode chess configurations, rather than individual pieces, and, consequently, parafoveal or peripheral processing guides their eye movements, producing a pattern of saccadic selectivity by piece saliency.

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Correspondence to Neil Charness.

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Preparation of this paper was supported by NIA Grant 5R01 AG13969 to N.C. and by a grant to E.R. from the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

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Charness, N., Reingold, E.M., Pomplun, M. et al. The perceptual aspect of skilled performance in chess: Evidence from eye movements. Memory & Cognition 29, 1146–1152 (2001). https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03206384

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Keywords

  • Fixation Duration
  • Skill Group
  • Good Move
  • Skilled Player
  • Perceptual Aspect