Gobet, F. & Simon, H. A. (accepted for publication). Recall of rapidly presented random chess positions is a function of skill. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review.


A widely cited result asserts that experts’ superiority over novices in recalling meaningful material from their domain of expertise vanishes when random material is used. A review of recent chess experiments where random positions served as control material (presentation time between 3 and 10 seconds) shows, however, that strong players generally maintain some superiority over weak players even with random positions, although the relative difference between skill levels is much smaller than with game positions. The implications of this finding for expertise in chess are discussed and the question of the recall of random material in other domains is raised.