A human chess machine is arguably the definition of an exemplary systems thinker. A systems thinker sees the big picture, doesn't get bogged down with minutiae, is extremely adaptable, and is open to learning by definition. A systems thinker is the sort of person who makes great life decisions because the future has been factored in, and the path to the best possible outcome has been analyzed and planned for. So what is involved in becoming a systems thinker, and why do chess players have this ability? Perhaps, more important, can you acquire this disposition even if you aren't a good chess player?
The answer to the latter is yes, but analyzing a chess player's point of view can help you adopt an analogous disposition.
Looking at the Whole
The key is that great chess players don't look at individual chess pieces, they look at the whole board. Using a technique cognitive psychologists call chunking, they see pieces in groups, perceive patterns in the relationships of these groups, and then make their moves (decisions) based on these patterns. Using this approach, they are able to solve a complex information processing problem in their heads that even the most powerful computer systems have trouble solving. The number of possible board arrangements and the multiplicity of possible moves is practically beyond comprehension. Success depends on transforming the problem from one of almost infinite possible moves to the best possible move based on recognized ...