Gobet, F. & Simon, H. A. (in press). The Roles of Recognition Processes and Look-Ahead Search in Time-Constrained Expert Problem Solving: Evidence from Grandmaster Level Chess. Psychological Science.


Chess has long served as an important standard task environment for research on human memory and problem-solving abilities and processes. In this paper, we report evidence on the relative importance of recognition processes and planning (look-ahead) processes in very high level expert performance in chess. The data show that the rated skill of a top-level grandmaster is only slightly lower when he is playing simultaneously against a half dozen grandmaster opponents than under tournament conditions that allow much more time for each move. As simultaneous play allows little time for look-ahead processes, the data indicate that recognition, based on superior chess knowledge, plays a much larger part in high-level skill in this task than does planning by looking ahead.