I was just thinking about chess and memory. Are there great mnemonic techniques we tend to overlook?
When I was younger, I was very involved in chess. Although I was not an expert, I found it very easy to remember entire chess games. Often multiple games. If I happened to walked away from the board part way through a game to go to the washroom, sometimes a non-chess-fanatic friend would amuse himself by trying to surreptitiously move one or two players. They seemed to find it weird and funny that I would instantly know what was changed upon returning.
There was nothing unique about my memory. The ability to remember chess games in detail is commonplace among avid players. But it did not depend on mnemonic techniques. In fact, the act of memorization is more or less an unintentional byproduct of a player’s intense focus on the game. Focus is important, but, it seems to me, intense focus is a necessary, but not sufficient reason for this phenomenon.
It seems to me there is something specific about the cognitive processes that are active during game play that makes it much easy for experienced players to remember the details of the game without consciously trying.
Does anybody have any special insight into why it is so easy for chess players to remember so many details? Is it the same for people who play other games avidly, like poker, for example?