Trial and error search in solving difficult problems: Evidence from the game of chess

To lesser souls who have difficulty remembering their own telephone numbers, the grandmasters of chess seem intellectual prodigies, who perform feats of memory and discovery unachievable by ordinary mortals. The great chess players are also a puzzle to psychologists, who find it difficult to reconcile these exploits with current theories about the problem-solving process. This paper attempts to clear away some of the mythology which surrounds the game of chess by showing that successful problem solving is based on a highly selective, heuristic “program” rather than on prodigies of memory and insight.