Synced chess videos: How to strengthen recall with a fresh new mode of review

By David Kramaley / On / In Chess science, Chessable news

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I have only shared this with a few people, but one of the reasons I co-founded Chessable, was that I had watched almost every single chess video available on my favourite openings, and yet remembered nothing.

I listened carefully, and I reviewed some of the videos more than once. However, time after time, nothing stuck, and I kept forgetting. It was at this stage that I turned to opening theory books, and found a similar problem.

Fast-forward a few years, and we have convincingly shown that studying chess openings is more fruitful if done with MoveTrainer™.

I have not heard of a diligent student who after putting the effort in, did not remember their lines. However, I always had this painful memory of all that time spent watching chess opening videos with no success at all. I really wanted to do something about it back then, and here we are now.

First of all, why even bother with video? Is studying in Chessable and MoveTrainer™ not enough? Of course, the platform we have built is already very powerful, and many have had success with it in one way or another. Adding video takes nothing away from that.

However, there are several reasons why video on Chessable supercharges your learning:

1. Learning styles:

Psychologists are still trying to agree on whether there are educational benefits to be attained by the “learning style” theories. These theories consider the fact that we are all different. For some of us, they say, the presentation of certain content is better one way rather than another. For instance, one of us might retain more information when we have read it, another when we have repeated it and yet another might remember better if they have heard it. A final one, might do best if they combine two of these learning modes together.

While research around this area remains inconclusive, and we do not aim to change the world by proving these theories right or wrong, one thing is for certain. We have all had a day where we would rather watch a chess video than do our daily repetitions. Now, if you ever have such a day, you have the choice of a refresher with a video that directly applies to your training material. Sit back, get a cup of tea and relax while listening to the presenter go over lines that you play.

Back to learning styles though, I have had at least a couple of messages from people who fully believe that one learning mode is more beneficial to them than another. So of course, when the dust settles, and scientists stop arguing, if learning theories pan out to be right, then for those of you who truly benefit from information presented audio-visually, well then, this one is for you.

2. It is more than just video, part 1:

Video on Chessable is directly integrated with MoveTrainer™ books. This means that when you are watching the video, either before or after studying the book, the watching you are doing will activate and strengthen the same synapses responsible for helping you remember your training material (geeky bit: well-myelinated synapses are shown to be key for good recall and retention).

A small disclaimer, we have not conducted studies to show that this is factually true, but once we grow a bit more, maybe we can commission MRI studies of students watching Chessable video, and then doing their reps to see what truly is going on inside that wonderful brain. Now that would be cool. All the neuroscience journals I have read, would lead me to stipulate that my hypothesis would indeed prove true, and thus in the experiment, I would seek to negate it. Hmm, now that is a good neuroscience Masters or PhD thesis idea…!

Synapses are responsible for communication between your brain’s neurons.

3. It is more than just video, part 2:

As a direct by-product of part 1, by tying in video with our MoveTrainer™ technology, we have been able to improve the learning experience for those of you who exclusively like to watch chess opening videos. There is a large proportion of chess students, who have never owned a chess book. They have never used MoveTrainer™, but they have, like me, watched a lot of chess instructional videos.

Many of these students are likely struggling just like I did. Today, however, if they watch one of our Chessable videos, they will have more than one opportunity to pause the video and easily analyse the position themselves. They can turn the engine on if they need to. Moreover, if all of this work results in nothing, they can ask a question that can be answered either by another student or the author themselves. What chess video platform can offer this? I don’t know of any. Thus I am very excited to be able to innovate and help the lovers of chess videos learn better.

4. It’s all in the game, yo:

You might have noticed that I am a big fan of gamification (done right), and the benefits to be gained by adding a bit of dopamine release to our learning activities. As far as I am aware, no other platform gamifies video watching to the extent we have done. Due to the benefits of gamification, several general studies learning platforms have done this for video, my favourite one being KhanAcademy (check it out if you haven’t!). So why had it not been done for chess? It was about time!

While version 1 of our video platform is not yet entirely gamified, there are already points, badges, and more things to be earned while watching video on Chessable. You can also keep track of what you’ve watched and what you haven’t. Soon, we might spice this up so much more, that you might not want to watch chess videos unless it is on Chessable! I have good news here though, we have built the platform in such a way, that it is not too hard for us to bring some of your most favourite existing videos and re-publish them on the Chessable platform. Any suggestions? Head to this thread.

We do not claim our video platform is perfect. Nothing is. In fact, there are a couple of minor bug reports in video-sync that we are currently investigating. Of course, if you have been using Chessable for a while, you know that nothing ever stays the same around here. It is all always changing and improving. So with your feedback, I am very excited about the possibilities going forward. Together, we will keep improving chess education and showing the world what we can achieve with the right support of technology. I look forward to hearing from you, in this discussion thread.

If you haven’t heard yet, IM Christof Sielecki’s Keep It Simple: 1.e4 is the first (of many to come), Chessable MoveTrainer™ books to have video with video-sync available. If you haven’t yet, check it out now, click here.

About David Kramaley

David is Chessable's CEO and Chief Scientist. He finished his dissertation on expertise and expert performance as part of a MSc in Psychology of Education (BPS) at the University of Bristol, and also holds a PGCert in Applied Psychology from the University of Liverpool. David's chess rating is around 1,850 FIDE.
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