How does one calculate moves while playing chess? How is it that other players can move and rearrange pieces in their heads and someone with aphantasia can still win a game of chess? Also, how does one make strategic moves regarding their future?

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Memory. I know the moves, I can still reason out a strategy of possible outcomes and outcomes of that. I actually played a lot of chess as a child and it makes me wonder if something like speed chess would be more or less advantageous.

Hi J_baby,

I am an avid chess player. I’m not the best, but I can best most people I know.

When I play chess I have an idea of what I want to do and attempt to make it happen. I look at all the pieces and where they can move and where they can move from there. I look at the board like a battle field and the pieces are the troops. I try to create troop formations and not leave troops without support. I do not see the strategy in my head I see it on the board. When things don’t go the way I want I can change strategy as I go and adapt. 

I hope that helps.


I’m not very good at chess but I’m world class at bridge. At bridge, I’m a grandmaster who plays in the Australian Open Team.  Aphantasia gives me several advantages at bridge. I have quite a few friends who have aphantasia – they too are good bridge players. None of us are great at chess.  At chess, I try to use strategies like creating open files to make up for my inability to visualise what’s going on. 

I’m 80 and un-discovered my “mind’s eye” a couple of months ago. It got a name, aphantasia, a few days ago. Looking back, a lot of pieces started to drop in. This is another! I was never good at chess but I killed at checkers. Just thought of another. Pool. Can’t shoot a game of pool to save my life but I can make incredible shots. I just have no idea of where the cue ball will land.