I’ve already posted some thoughts on the goals and ideas behind The Chunky Rook in the Read Me! section, but I figured it’s necessary to provide some more substance to the why and the how.
For starters, the project’s designed to be within my own zone of proximal development, which simply means I’m going to feature material that’s neither too easy nor too difficult for me. Also, some of the positions I’m going to post may seem utterly trivial to you, but had such an impact on me that I want to record them.
Further, I aspire to post material that has a clear achievement aim. In teaching, we distinguish between procedure aims (what you do during class) and achievement aims (the knowledge or skill you learn from the class). Similarly in chess, we can distinguish between, say, playing through a grandmaster game (a procedure aim) and knowing what to do with bishops during the opening (achievement aim). Or, to give you another example, practising tactics at Chess Tempo: solving a tactic is a procedure aim, retaining the idea or pattern so that you can spot a similar tactic in the next OTB game is an achievement aim.
Having said that, what’s the procedure and achievement aim of a typical Chunky Rook post? Well, the procedure aim, obviously, is having watched an animated gif repeatedly (and read the occasional blurb underneath). The achievement aim, on the other hand, differs for each gif, but the general achievement aim can be summed up as follows: familiarising yourself with and absorbing ideas that will help you to think about positions and decide on moves. (I’m rather fond of the term “idea”, vague as it is, because it encompasses the whole range of chess knowledge instead of cutting it up into bits, as happens when people talk about “tactics vs strategy” or “calculation vs evaluation” — necessary and useful distinctions, no doubt, but only once they’re integrated into a holistic learning approach.)
However, the gifs themselves are insufficient as procedures to master this achievement aim. They merely represent the end-product of a host of procedures (reading a chess book, post-mortem analysis, OTB experiences, hints from chess teachers or better players, video lectures, and what not) boiled down to one or two ideas. In other words, the gifs are not primarily teaching tools, but mnemonic devices meant to anchor previous learning experiences and facilitate recall once we are back at the board. Put simply, they are animated flash cards.
So now that I’ve spewed some fancy learning terminology at you, feel free to comment on the method of the Chunky Rook and let me know whether you think there’s any merit to the approach. This is an experiment, and the proof of the pudding is in my OTB performance. The moment of truth is the moment I make a (good) decision based upon an idea I retained from watching a gif, the moment I’m looking at wooden pieces on a wooden board when suddenly an animated bishop on blue squares pops into my head and I go “Oh yeah, there was that neat idea with the bishop and the rook.”