CHESS MOVES Memorization

I’m playing Chess for a while and recently started studying chess and while studying Openings I’ve noticed that there are many variations of a same opening, and there are so many openings. While I understood the Opening moves as to WHY it was played, I got confused between those many mainline openings and the sideline Variations. Then I went to memorize a particular OP using a DATABASE to find the MOSTLY played Moves…standard repetition was time consuming bcz I’m just playing the moves over and over, so I used Dominic System and Mind Palace to jot down the notations in my Mind…memorizing mainline moves were easy BUT the PROBLEM airses when there are 8 to 9 Variations from one particular number of moves say from the 8th move…Each variation contains another 12-18 moves. Trying to memorize those branches of variations is SPACE CONSUMING and challenging to arrange…So my questions is HOW TO ARRANGE THE MOVES IN ORDERLY MANNER AND EASY TO NEVIGATE?? THANK YOU…

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Hi Tony,

I think that while openings position you…you can’t really arrange moves in an order way that’s easy to navigate…It’s a situational thing.

That’s why chess is so difficult…BUT

You can learn from Chess masters and memorize some of their moves.


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Yes…that’s what I’m trying to do…
I’m now memorizing the moves played frequently by Masters in a particular Opening

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What video or book do you recommend to learn the basic opening moves from?

That’s what I want


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Play 1…Nc6!_ A complete chess opening repertoire for Black

Winning Chess Openings

FCO - Fundamental Chess Openings

These books and Openings study on

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Thank you

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Hi Tony,
Somehow, I am not a chess professional but since you said you have a hard time to remember the variations, what come up to my mind can solve this problem is mind-mapping. Or for a higher efficiency you could concern transfer your move into a shape or a images and that might be easier for memory.
Hope it works!

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You might want to read this:


I can’t remember where, but an additional point is that psychological research found blindfolded chess players are very at chunking the chess moves mentally (with their natural memory). This is somewhat touched upon in the article

Expert blind simuls players, like Timur, are very skilled at using unaided memory to remember complex board configurations.


The problem with this article is that Timur didn’t use it after all when he did his monster challenge (49 boards if I’m not mistaken). In his interview with Ben Johnson on the Perpetual Chess podcast he told about this and he found it not working for him after all. Timur has a freakish visualization skill where he can see the board from both sides in his mind’s eye as clear as the real thing. He has a very good chess memory for positions and did the whole thing without any use of memory palaces. For us normal chess players that can’t play blindfold at all and have a problem calculating 6 ply deep and seeing things correctly in our head this is just mind blowing. I always call this Jedi stuff that is as close to real magic as you can get.

However for grandmasters playing blindfold and being abled to recognize thousands of positions is very common. No mnemonics are used at all it is like recognizing faces for them they just know the position and the details. I’m every time stunned when GM commentators see a game and say oh yeah this reminds me of a game Carlsen played when he was 5 years old and the other GM will say yeah I know what you mean only there was a bishop on f6 not on f4 in that game. It is just on a whole different level that GM’s see and understand chess.

Only Simon Reinhard is using mnemonics for chess and he is teaching this in his online chess seminars. I was not able to join one of those online seminars and that is a shame because I’m curious how he applies it. Maybe one day he will make a video course about it and I will buy that for sure.

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@TONY9038 Yes this is a problem indeed it is not a problem to learn the main lines but al the sidelines are hard to do. I have not solved this myself. There have been others here that have been successful learning an opening repertoire with memory palaces and sidelines. If you search this site you will find some interesting techniques. The postal system is very handy to use and was an eye opener for me because you only have to work with numbers. You don’t have to encode the pieces. I’m still working on a system where I can deal with the variations better and not mix them up. Good luck and don’t go to deep in the sidelines you will not encounter them often unless you are rated above 2300.

Can you actually use memory techniques for such massive decision based situations?
Especially of this sort of pattern recognition variety.

Has anyone tried Dominic O’Brien’s method from “How To Develop A Perfect Memory”? If you have a PA (PAO) based around his system it seems to make sense.
It means you do not have to remember another 64 people because he already turns numbers to letters so A1 would be AA so whoever you have as number 11 is first square and so on.
You just then add 16 people for the major pieces as pawns are not used in notation.
Encyclopedia of chess lists 500 openings and Oxford Companion to Chess lists 1,327 however if you take something like the English Opening that has 28 variations however the repartition of the same thing over and over again.
I almost think you have to do it like a turn your own adventure game in that you start the match with a room with 10 doors and maybe some of the doors have extra detail like the C2 pawn has an English flag and then you go through. To then be faced with 2 doors C3 or C4 and so on for 40 possible moves.

These are some very good suggestions and I see that everyone including Me are facing the same problems and having the same thoughts about it. Those who have played or Play chess here knows that in the OP, there are moves that gives you andvantage the moves that can place you at disadvantge If you study them with a Engine or a coach. The masters always plays the Best moves bcz with many repetitions over many years, the moves are ingrained in their mamory, at least the OP moves.Nor We or masters have to memorize the middlegame bcz no one can predict what the others will play, so the middle game is calculation based. Now, we know memory Arts, so it is my intention as everyone else here to memorize the OP database to some extent, and when i’ll play, i’ll have the best moves of the opening right in my head (of course including the theory knowledge)untill the midle game.It is very interesting, and you can have fun and you can save the many hours and repititions.

MY METHOD;- This method or the way of Arrangment I developed after posting this question at this forum…so it’s still in Beta mode…I am using Dominic system, and simple mind palace for the main line. And for vatriations, let’s take Ruy lopez for Exmpl:

  1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 Nf6 ( Breyer Variation continue… with subvariation)
    4 Bxc6 ( Exchange Variation cont…with subVr)
    3 Bb5 Nf6 ( Berline defence cont…with subVr)
    And there are important variations from 7th , 9th move like Archangel var, Marshall Attack, chigorin etc…
    So here I memorize the first 3 moves in a same Mind palace say a street, then for the Var from 3rd move I use another Mind palace( ONLY use another fresh Mind palace if the variation has many moves) say another Street and I will left a cue at the end of the main line 3rd move to remember the Variation link. And for the variations from the 4th move, I’ll use the same method. And remember, for subvariation I use the same mind palace bcz subvariations usually don’t have that many moves and I place them like a branch of trees. Link the Name of the Opening and the Variations with some images and Voila, You have the database of the best moves in Your mind. Approx 35-40 moves including Variations.
    don’t repeat the same moves, Instead create a Tree.
    If you have any suggestions or like to add anything to this, please Feel Free.

I’m transforming moves using Dominic system

I did not know that, @GettingOld.

It’s possible you could think about how to model what you are calling a “freakish visualization skill.” Even if it’s not the same, the exercise of trying could teach you a great deal.


@metivier He he he I have been down that road before, but felt a bit like chasing windmills and gave up on it while I still had some of my sanity left. It’s clear to me that it is a skill you have to develop at a young age to become good at it. And Timor is the king for sure I wonder if that record will be broken. Playing a blindfold simul on 49 boars while riding a bike and doing it all just in his mind that is something you only expect to find in a comicbook :slightly_smiling_face:
It shows us what the human mind is capable off for sure.

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I don’t think playing 49 blindfolded games is as impressive as you think. The previous record is 45 and that record was set in 1947, 74 years ago.

Also, another big thing.

Timur Gareyev used a MEMORY PALACE. He actually talked to mind/memory experts for advice.


@albinoblanke You are right that he did talk to an expert about memory palaces and considered using it and worked on some techniques that are discussed in the article. However on the podcast with Ben Johnson he explained that he found it to complicated to use and didn’t use any of them. You can listen to the interview on Youtube search for Perpetual Chess Podcast EP 20 Grandmaster Timur Gareyev or download the mp3 on the site Perpetual Chess Podcast. It’s a cool interview he talks about his lifestyle and that he lives like a nomad traveling all the time and only owns a backpack.

About the record not being a big deal well maybe your right but the old record was set in 1947 and was held for all those years until Timur broke it. So I think that is pretty impressive especially that he did it also riding a bike. One thing is for sure I will not break the record :wink:

One of the things I had not heard before in the C4 show was that your memory is better during exercise.

I cannot think where I heard it however there is a magic trick to playing multiple games and it something like you play the previous opponents move on the next board and so. Apparently you are guaranteed to win at least 50%. You basically make them play each other.

I wonder if the solution is to memorise photos of chess boards because what you really want to build is pattern recognition?

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