So a recent Japanese study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (brain scans) to determine that professional Shogi (Japanese Chess, more complex and deeper than the International version) players leaned more on their intuition than amateur players. Rather than logically analysing the position with their cerebral cortex, the pros (who train everyday for hours, and have done so for years) employ pattern recognition via the precuneus caudate.
I suppose it really does make sense: strong players don’t just read many moves ahead – they beat AIs that read farther than them. Through extensive experience they’ve built up a fuzzily-matched database of similar situations, from which they gain a feeling of the strength of different options. When I look at a position of a game I’m familiar with (I wonder if my >7000 games of Race for the Galaxy qualify me for caudate-based game evaluation), I already have a sense of how things are, what moves are worth, and what to do, before reasoning through the options.