from martin amis piece on kasparov v karpov
Let us take an average experience of chess. You master the moves, start to play frequently, by a book or two, learn some ground-rules, some openings, develop a little 'vocabulary', a bit of 'pattern recognition'. . . After a while you notice that you have stopped improving. Your progress, so far, has felt like a slow ascent along rising ground; then you pause, look up, and se a cliff face almost beyond the dimensions of the globe, whose crest is merely a flat summit, itself the first of many.
Quickly you relapse into the kind of player who knows one opening to a depth of three moves, who flounders into the middle game hoping for errors more egregious than his own. That is the amateur game: an uninterrupted exchange of howlers. You aren't any good. And the man who always beats you in the put or the cafe isn't any good. And the man who always beta him in the clubhouse isn't any good. And the man who always bets the man who always beats the man who always beats him may just be starting to get somewhere.