Understanding our understanding of strategic scenarios: what role do chunks play?

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There is a crucial debate concerning the nature of chess chunks: One current possibility states that chunks are built by encoding particular combinations of pieces-on-squares (POSs), and that chunks are formed mostly by 'close' pieces (in a 'Euclidean' sense). A complementary hypothesis is that chunks are encoded by abstract, semantic information. This article extends recent experiments and shows that chess players are able to perceive strong similarity between very different positions if the pieces retain the same abstract roles in both of them. This casts doubt on the idea that POS information is the key information encoded in chess chunks, and this article proposes, instead, that the key encoding involves the abstract roles that pieces (and sets of pieces) play-a theoretical standpoint in line with the research program in semantics that places analogy at the core of cognition.

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