The Chess Problem

I was eating my lunch in a crowded cafeteria.  The diners sat elbow to elbow on long benches at polished metal tables arranged in rows.  This kid next to me had a bunch of large wooden chess pieces on the table in front of him, laid out in the configuration of a chess problem which he appeared to be intensely contemplating.  I leaned over to study the problem for myself when I noticed something curious.  “There’s no board!”, I observed.  The kid just nodded, still concentrating on the problem.  I was impressed.  Not only could he analyze all the complex movements and interactions of all the different pieces; he could do it all while visualizing where the pieces belonged on the board entirely in his head.


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