Skip to content

Mnemosyne update

Mnemosyne is a spaced repetition program for aiding memorization; see my first post about it for the whole scoop. That was the one-month report, and it’s now time to post a three-month report.

The chess opening memorization is still going very well. I’m now up to 471 positions in my database and am reviewing about 20 a day. One thing that can be a little bit of an issue is that since my flashcards are just positions, they’re a bit contextless; often part of the work I have to do to recall the correct move in a position is to deduce what sequence of moves led to it, so I can consult the right part of my mental library. Of course this is not an issue in an actual game, so it makes the flashcard experience a little artificial. I could try adding the appropriate moves to the problem, but I’m not convinced that’s a good idea either. For one thing, some of the positions can be arrived at by multiple sequences of moves, and for another, the best move in a position shouldn’t depend on how you got there; I should be able to deduce (or remember) it without hints. But on the other hand, if I’ll have the hints during an actual game, why not use them here? I’ll keep thinking about it.

I’ve only played four tournament games since I started using Mnemosyne, but in none of them did I have any trouble recalling the moves in my repertoire. So that’s good so far.

Meanwhile, with Esperanto vocabulary I’m testing exactly the scenario I foresaw in the original post; my interest has waned a bit again, so I’m not reading regularly, but I am keeping up with the memorization. I am holding steady at 1926 cards, and the number I have to review every day has dwindled from a high of around 200 to somewhere in the 30s, which I can get through in a minute or two. I have a better than 90% recall rate, so I do seem to be retaining the information. So that’s perfect — I’m confident that if I picked up an Esperanto book today, I’d be able to read it with close to the same ability as two months ago. I’ll happily spend a minute or two (and dropping!) a day to retain that knowledge.