I've been meaning to post about Robert's latest post entitled "The Inner Game of Chess"
In one sentence, he perfectly captured (at least in my mind) what flow means or feels like in a game of chess. He said, "the rest of the tournament room, and the world, sort of faded away, and all I saw was the board in front of me."
He goes on to explain that between moves 22 and 30 he begins to tire from previous calculations. Then he ties in Blunderprone's very insightful post about his 7-move loss and a quote from FM Jon Jacobs who succinctly advises a chess player to "Fire Your Coach. Hire a Shrink!"
All of this is very good stuff and it relates directly to flow.
For all the good that De la Maza did in his little theory on cramming tactics into your head, one tiny yet important fact that is overlooked in his success story is that he seemingly had a lot of time to dedicate to chess. Wouldn't we all be much better if we didn't have day jobs, families and other responsibilities taking precious time away from chess?
Despite having our time spread across multiple interests, we can still attain that intense focus required to play our best chess. This is where flow comes in.
I think the commenter on Robert's post who's identified as Howard Goldowsky made an excellent point. He said, "it's not good enough to want to have a certain mindset, one must meditate on that mindset each day, train your brain to behave the way it wants to behave. There's so little time to train on the technical side of chess, taking the time to meditate would be a big investment"
This comment reminds me of what I read recently in the popular book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. The author tells his friends about a set of instructions he keeps at his home which help him improve in his field of technial writing. The set of instructions simply state, "Assembly of Japanese bicycle require great peace of mind" (see chapter 14 of the book).
Obviously the underlining statement here is, "you better have a clear head before you begin assembling this bike!" To apply this to chess and flow ... you must have "great peace of mind" going into a game of chess in order to attain flow and consequently play your best chess.
I believe that we can practice getting into that flow. Perhaps through meditation or deep breathing or listening to certain music or other pre-game rituals we attain the proper mindset going into a game or practice session (studying a book or solving tactics and positions).
Alas, I have no conclusive evidence right now ... it's just a gut feeling. But I'm willing to experiment.