ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2016, Vol. 48 ›› Issue (5): 457-471.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2016.00457

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The perceptual differences between experienced Chinese chess players and novices: Evidence from eye movement

WANG Fuxing1; HOU Xiujuan1; DUAN Zhaohui1; LIU Huashan1; LI Hui2   

  1. (1 School of Psychology, Central China Normal University, Wuhan 430079, China) (2 Academy of Psychology and Behavior, Tianjin Normal University, Tianjin 300074, China)
  • Received:2015-01-12 Published:2016-05-25 Online:2016-05-25
  • Contact: LIU Huashan, E-mail:; WANG Fuxing, E-mail:


Previous chess studies have found that the experienced chess players who are better than novices on memorizing chess board show superior perceptual encoding advantage. However, the Chinese chess have the similar expertise superior advantage? The present research designed three experiments to explore whether Chinese chess experts performed better on perceptual encoding, chess board memory, and detection than novices. Ten Chinese chess players who have already got more than 10-years experiences were regarded as experienced players. Fifteen college students who could understand the basic rules of Chinese chess were recruited as novices. EyeLink 1000 desktop eye tracker with 1000 Hz sample rate was used to record participants’ eye movement. Materials were the real Chinese chess playing-board pictures with 14 pieces on board. Each board had seven red and seven blue pieces. All three experimental materials were assessed by two experienced players on the authenticity and difficulty. In experiment 1, we presented random chess board or real chess board to participants. Each board presented for five seconds. Then, we asked participants to reproduce what they have seen on a real chess board. All the eye fixation data were recorded during the 5s viewing. In experiment 2, we used moving window paradigm to control their visual field size, including one piece size (1.3 degree visual angle), four pieces size (2.9 degree) and 16 pieces size (5.1 degree), to explore whether the experienced players could use the parafovea to process and extract information from chess board. Experiment 3 used flicker paradigm to investigate whether experienced players could notice the change much faster than novices and use their parafovea to fixate the changed pieces before their oral reports. Results of experiment 1 suggested that experienced Chinese chess players could recall much more pieces in the real chess board and random chess board than novices. In addition, experienced players showed wider saccade span and greater pupil size than novices. Consistent with the previous studies, the experienced chess players fixated more between pieces rather than on the pieces, but the novices allocated more attention on the pieces. Experiment 2 showed that, the experienced players can take advantage of parafoveal processing (16 and 4-piece window) to remember more pieces than the fovea condition (one piece window); but the novices did not show this difference. The eye movement data also showed that the experienced players had wider saccade span than novices when pieces in the parafovea (16 pieces window). Results of experiment 3 showed that the experienced players perceived changed pieces faster and their correct rate were higher than novices. For the changed pieces, the eye movement data indicated that experienced chess players could perceive changes quicker than novices with fovea and parafovea. In conclusion, compared to novices, experienced Chinese chess players can remember and reproduce more chess pieces than novices. Second, experienced players allocate more attention on between pieces based on their chess chunks and templates. Third, experienced Chinese chess players have wider visual span, and can use parafovea to encode information from chess board. Finally, Chinese experienced chess players can perceive changed pieces quickly and more accurately, showing superior perceptual advantage. In sum, consistent with the chess studies, Chinese chess did have expertise superior advantage and superior perceptual encoding advantage.

Key words: expertise, experienced chess player, novice, eye movement, Chinese chess