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Did you know that Fischer had no chess talent?


  • 3 years ago · Quote · #101

    TheGrobe

    I have a similar issue with it -- there are some for whom significantly less than 10,000 hours will be sufficient as they have a natural inate affinity.  Take Samuel Reshevsky for example.

    In addition, 10,000 doing what exactly?  I could while away 10,000 on chess practice against weak opponents and I don't think I would be an "expert" at the end of that time.  Quality of study is as important, if not more, than quantity.

    At the end of the day my belief is that you can be very successful either primarily on the back of hard work or on the back of raw talent.  No-one makes it right to the top without both though.

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #102

    TheGrobe

    Reshevsky well before his 10,000 hours:

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #103

    pbrocoum

    Why do you think there are so many more Russian grandmasters then US grandmasters? Is it because:

    A) Russians are genetically better at chess and have more talent, or

    B) The Russian chess school is freakin' awesome and they work really hard at it?

    I think people often confuse the definition of talent. On the one hand, some people think talent means that you get really good at something without working at it (which never happens), and on the other hand some people think that lack of talent means that you can't get good at something no matter how hard you work at it (which might be true).

    I think the best definition of talent is just "drive" or "love". The title of this thread about Fischer having no talent is inflammatory but it actually makes sense: Fisher worked SO HARD at chess for his entire life that he went INSANE. That's powerful dedication and a tremendous amount of work. There is no evidence that Fischer had any innate talent, no evidence that Fischer became good at chess without work. In fact, Fischer was better than everyone else in the world because he worked harder than everyone else in the world, clearly.

    But why did he work so hard? It's because he LOVED chess, that's why. That's where true talent lies. The rest of us are unable to work as hard as he did because we wouldn't enjoy it; reading a chess book for eight hours per day for my entire life would make my eyes bleed really quickly.

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #104

    TheGrobe

    That's an argument against talent being the only factor in being successful at chess.  I don't think I've seen anyone make that claim.

    There's definitely a place for hard work and effective training, and up to a point it can even substitute for a lack of talent, but only up to a point.

    It's also likely that the Russian program relied heavily on talent recognition and development.  That doesn't mean that Russians are inately more talented at chess, just that their program was better at finding those that were.

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #105

    Sidford_Knight

    the ability to work hard is a talent

    which I lack

    I also lack chess talent

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #106

    orestesmantra

    mathot wrote:
    orestesmantra wrote:
    Research on expertise generally tends to show that true expertise at a skill requires about 10,000 hours of practice

    It might very well be true that 10,000 hours of practice is required for true expertise, but common sense tells me that it does not guarantee anything. If you have no chess talent at all you can practice 10,000 hours, or even 100,000 or more, but you still won't be as good at chess as Fisher was.


     You are right but this doesn't invalidate anything I said. The article I mentioned actually says that a lot of practice is necessary but not sufficient to achieve master level. There are certainly cases of people practicing for more than 10,000 hours and never reaching master level, so practice is not sufficient for master level. But it certainly is necessary. One cannot reach master levels after a few hours of practice; rather, it takes thousands of hours. 

    TheGrobe wrote:

    I have a similar issue with it -- there are some for whom significantly less than 10,000 hours will be sufficient as they have a natural inate affinity.


     The article that I mentioned states that based on their research, a minimum of 3,000 hours is required to achieve master level. But the average amount of time to reach that level is 10,000 hours. Exceptions to general trends are just that: exceptions. But generally speaking, 10,000 hours of practice is necessary to reach the highest levels of international competition. Just because a few people have reached master level with less practice time does not invalidate the truth of a general trend.

    My point is that "raw talent" is misleading. What's "raw" is certain general cognitive faculties that have a genetic component. Talent at chess is what develops when you take that raw material and add thousands of hours of practice. Only then can you be said to be "skilled" at chess. And expert skill is really the bottom line. Sure, some people can reach expert level faster and more efficiently than others, but the research tends to show that for most people (but not all), the amount of practice is the strongest correlate for rating level. So yeah, maybe you won't be the next Bobby fischer if you practiced for 10,000 hours. But you would be far better at chess than the vast majority of people. Again, practice is necessary but not sufficient for master level skill, but generally the strongest correlate with rating is practice time, which indicates that skill in chess is more determined by practice rather than raw cognitive dispositions. Pointing out that people with low IQs could never become chess masters doesn't invalidate this point, because most people who are drawn to chess already have a high IQ. So given that, the determining factor of reaching master level play is a matter of who practices more (and of course quality of practice matters too; if you spent 10,000 hours studying inefficiently, you would probably not reach master level).

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #107

    pbrocoum

    There is very little point in making absolute statements, like there is NO talent or that it's ALL hard work. Nothing in the world is so black and white. But then, what are we arguing about?

    Well, we are either arguing about nothing, or more likely, arguing against the people who say "boo hoo, I have no talent, therefore I'll never be good at chess." That's the problem that I and many others have with assertions about talent; it's very often used as an excuse not to work hard.

    Let me tell you a true story. When I was in high school I got straight A's. Another kid came up to me in study hall and asked:

    Kid: Philip, why do you work so hard?

    Me: What do you mean?

    Kid: Well, if I was as smart as you and got straight A's, I would never work, I would just lounge around and play games all day or go out and party. You are so lucky.

    Me: *incredulously* Wait a minute, why do you think that I'm getting straight A's in the first place?!?! It's because I work so hard!

    Do you see how the kid got cause and effect completely backwards? Now, maybe I do have a "talent" for schoolwork, but even so that's certainly not why I got straight A's. When you hand-wave successes away as "talent", not only are you cheating yourself by coming up with an excuse for why you aren't successful, but you are offending other people who worked very hard to achieve what they have by saying that he got lucky to have been born with talent.

    The reality of the situation is probably the 90-10 rule: hard work will get you 90% of the way there, but the other 10% is reserved for people who are just "lucky" and have a genetic predisposition for whatever they are doing. For example, you can train all day and learn to run marathons really fast, but those darned Kenyans will still have genetics on their side =P

    We can argue about exactly the percentage, maybe it's 95-5, or 75-25, or whatever, I'd say that anybody can get to 2000 in chess purely by hard work. Maybe higher, I'm not really qualified to say.

    Either way, the important thing is that hard work is MUCH more important than talent. You certainly won't become the best in the entire world on hard work alone, but that shouldn't be your goal anyway because it's so incredibly unlikely no matter what. However, if your goal is to be "successful" at virtually anything in life, you can do that through hard work alone, regardless of talent.

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #108

    Conflagration_Planet

    pro com wrote:

     

    Why do you think there are so many more Russian grandmasters then US grandmasters? Is it because:

    A) Russians are genetically better at chess and have more talent, or

    B) The Russian chess school is freakin' awesome and they work really hard at it?

    I think people often confuse the definition of talent. On the one hand, some people think talent means that you get really good at something without working at it (which never happens), and on the other hand some people think that lack of talent means that you can't get good at something no matter how hard you work at it (which might be true).

    I think the best definition of talent is just "drive" or "love". The title of this thread about Fischer having no talent is inflammatory but it actually makes sense: Fisher worked SO HARD at chess for his entire life that he went INSANE. That's powerful dedication and a tremendous amount of work. There is no evidence that Fischer had any innate talent, no evidence that Fischer became good at chess without work. In fact, Fischer was better than everyone else in the world because he worked harder than everyone else in the world, clearly.

    But why did he work so hard? It's because he LOVED chess, that's why. That's where true talent lies. The rest of us are unable to work as hard as he did because we wouldn't enjoy it; reading a chess book for eight hours per day for my entire life would make my eyes bleed really quickly

    Studying chess wasn't responsible for Fischer going nuts. That's a huge misconception. He would have done that, chess or no chess. Just ask John Nash. He was a math genius who went nuts. He had two sons. One son was also a math genius who also inherited his Schizophrenia. The other was not a math genius, and also didn't inherit his Schizophrenia. I could study chess till hell froze over, and never become Schizophrenic or a chess genius. Some forms of mental illness has been associated with certain abilities most people don't have.

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #109

    corrijean

    I know a person who grew up in Nash's neighborhood. He said you would often see Nash wandering around in his bathrobe.

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #110

    goldendog

    I turned into a girl in the middle of a long chess sporad. Beware m'lads.

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #111

    AndyClifton

    orestesmantra wrote:

    Can I ask why? It's a totally legit and well-established research finding. 


    Very well.  First off, Robert Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy is filled with "well-established research findings" about the theory of the humors.  It is all quite meticulous and painstaking...and of course all quite false (at least in its premises).  You are engaging in a bit of debating legerdemain, it seems to me, by stating these notions as facts, so there presumably is no way any reasonable person can argue against them.

    And yet I do.  It seems to me that you contradict yourself in your premises.  The notion of "talent" seems to me to be at odds with this whole "10000 hour" business.

    Additionally, it should presumably be clear that a "one-hour" unit of study is never going to be the same, or anywhere near the same, even when we are discussing the same person doing it.  Nobody will be at the same level the whole time...there are areas that one would much rather study than others...and things that one will learn from much more than others.  Indeed, all the different aspects of "study" can hardly be dumped into some melting pot and looked on as the same.

    Then too there is the following concept:  sometimes study can actually be bad for somebody...it can actually misguide you and leave you worse off than when you started.  Also a vacation from chess (and other things) can leave you refreshed and improved afterward...sometimes even a very long break (that was true of me at least back when I was improving).

    Also (when it comes to chess) how are you to factor play into this?  Playing thousands of games in very important, and even goofy offhand things like bughouse can teach you about the game in general.

    Note btw that all of this is leaving the matter of "talent" out of the equation...the inclusion of which will presumably further skew the results (how many regular-player hours is a Reshevsky hour worth, eg?).

    At any rate, I very much object to the notion that "sounding scientific" automatically makes something closer to the fact.  All these sorts of "studies" seem more than a trifle silly to me, and smack of nothing so much as one of those pop-psych books attempting to transform the latest catchphrase into the latest bestseller.  Indeed, the first time I heard all this 10000-hour stuff being bandied about, I assumed that someone had just written some similarly meringuey manifesto which everyone else was parroting as The Latest Word on the Subject, as people will (rather drearily) do betimes.

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #112

    StevenBailey13

    Fischer was a genius. End of discussion.

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #113

    TheGrobe

    Well, it's a good thing someone resurrected this thread to end the discussion.  The lack of closure had been keeping me up at night.

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #114

    AndyClifton

    Yeah.  And you know, there's nothing around here that succeeds quite like intoning the statement, "End of discussion"...

    Not for nothing is this guy named TheProfessor.

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #115

    waffllemaster

    TheGrobe wrote:
    This is a decidedly weak troll attempt.
  • 3 years ago · Quote · #116

    Beachdude67

    Did you know that Fishcer had no chess talent?

    Did you know that I have a purple monster named Fred that lives under my bed?

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #117

    waffllemaster

    Ooh, learned a new word: "legerdemain" thanks andy, a goodin'

    For the "talent doesn't exist, only hard work" people I have to think you've never attempted to gain proficiency in anything in your life and/or aren't very observant of your surroundings.

    Nothing against these people personally, but it's such a bizarre argument.

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #118

    AndyClifton

    Well, I have something against these people personally.  I think they're dinks.

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #119

    Crazychessplaya

    AndyClifton wrote:

    Well, I have something against these people personally.  I think they're dinks.

    +1.

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #120

    trysts

    waffllemaster wrote:

    For the "talent doesn't exist, only hard work" people I have to think you've never attempted to gain proficiency in anything in your life and/or aren't very observant of your surroundings.

    Nothing against these people personally, but it's such a bizarre argument.

    Depending upon how you define "talent", I wouldn't shy away from supporting hard work, and concentration to account for the differences in people's rating.


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