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Intellectual abilities differ as the last comment suggests. So, while one may excell in one or more areas, one may not excel at chess. First, chess requires good abstact thinking to understand and apply theoretical ideas. Good analytical skills are also extremely important. to reach reach very high levels of performance, an ability to memorize becomes important so that one can retain many different, analyzed lines of opening play so that one may save time on his clock and already understand the current and past opening theory. I for example, have an extremely poor memory so must rely on understanding without the knowlege of too many opening lines. The ability to calculate many moves in advace is also very important as one improves. Of course, one also has to have the patience to sit and think for long periods of time and deal well with adversity.
I would challenge virtually every one of your assumptions.
Chess requires good chess thinking, not good abstract thinking. Quantum physics requires good abstract thinking, and I no of no GM's who are quantum physicists. Good analytic skills are not central to chess either. Anglo-American philosophy requires good analytical skills. I only know of one GM that has a Ph.D from an Anglo-American University, and he quit chess to teach.
Memory is overrated. Most strong players avoid theoretical lines that require memorization as they become older. Humpy Kornu made GM by playing nothing but non theoretical lines. Old unbooked GMs beat booked-up young GMs all the time. Chess understanding is far more important than chess memorization since you can always avoid theoretical main lines.
And it is a complete myth that you need to be able to analyze long lines to become good at chess. Simply by avoiding two move blunders, you can make 1900 OTB. I made 2400 on this site simply by limiting my playing to self-destructive 1600's and below. Besides, long human analysis in head, wrong human analysis in head. We are not computers.
What you need is someone stronger to explain chess to you in a non abstract, non-analytical way.
I charge $50 bucks an hour btw ;-)
Chess thinking is the key !! Finally we got it ...
Other than the last line, these sound like the things that are measured by IQ tests.
For what it's worth, in my reading, the authors tend to say that a GM's ability to look ahead several moves is very different than an ordinary player's ability. The key difference is that they seem to be able to rapidly spot a very small number of moves that might be good, and not spend time/brain power examining the vast majority of possible moves from any given postion.
Magnus Carlsen, interviewed on Sixty Minutes, said that he usually sees the right move right away, and all that other time that he uses up sitting at the board is just checking to make sure he's right, which he usually is.
So I think that Chess is very much a "specialty item" which does require a certain type of aptitude, namely those spatial/visual analysis abilities spoken of in the above quote. And those abilities you are born with, you can't learn them. So if you start off trying to learn and progress in Chess and you DO NOT have above average spatial/visual analysis you are not going to get as far as those who do no matter what you do. Period.
I tend to agree with this (and everything else you wrote) but do you have any insight into exactly what "spatial/visual analysis" actually is? Other than playing Chess, what else could I do well if I had above average spatial/visual analysis capabilities?
To Patzerlars: Yes...I now go to Delta Level 2.
Hey, James...you could qualify for Mensa (maybe you are a member).
Me? I applied years ago. Rated 3 percentile. What a bummer...missed by 1 percentile.
The test was taken in the basement of a library with a noisy, rowdy girl scout meeting on the other side of the door, jack hammers going full force outside the windows, no air conditioning in the hot/humid summer... They don't allow for a retest, either. Not for your entire life.
But, I take full responsibility. If I did not, I'd give myself a Delta Scorn Level 10 rating.
Congratulations on being shmarter than me by 1 percentile.
It always amazed me that an organization that claims to cull only the top intellectually 1) advertises in Reader's Digest, and 2) lacks chapters at major research universities. Reminds me of the Who's Who invitation cards that I feed to my paper shredder.
The ads are the real story.
James: It always amazed me that an organization that claims to cull only the top intellectually 1) advertises in Reader's Digest, and 2) lacks chapters at major research universities. Reminds me of the Who's Who invitation cards that I feed to my paper shredder.
I agree. I applied a long time ago. Since then, I came to realize that it is largely bogus. For example, my wife never studied much math. She'd do poorly on certain IQ tests.
In my case, the math wouldn't be a problem (except that I am rusty) but those stupid anagrams might be.
Hey! This might be the organization snakesbelly mentioned in a different thread!
Threads like these are made by people wanting to find excuses for their problems rather than wanting to fix them.
Perhaps your case is different.
On any given day, some of us might find cognitive psychology more interesting than Chess.
I do understand that it does take all kinds of people to make a planet.
However, if I severely sucked at chess, I would endeavor to improve. If, because my brain was somehow fried and I couldn't do that, I would give it up. I'd find something more suitable for my id. That's just me, though.
Then, there are people who aren't willing to put forth the effort, lose regularly, feel no shame and wonder why they lose because they consider themselves as having a superior intellect. Quite an enigma, I suppose.
If I found something that was an enigma, I might be the kind to investigate it until I understood it.
In all seriousness, I do find that losing doesn't cause me much humiliation, unless I feel like I simply blundered a game I should have won. I enjoy playing Chess, but the fact that there are people better than me doesn't bother me in the least. I claimed early on to have blood lust, but perhaps it's a much more limited form than others have. During a competition, whether Chess, or martial arts, or a math test, I can be quite intense, but winning doesn't make me elated, and losing doesn't make me depressed or humiliated. If I enjoy the competition, I generally enjoy the activity, not necessarily the outcome.
(ETA: The remainder of this post is a summary of a psychology PhD dissertation. If you find that sort of thing tedious, do not read on.)
I ran across an interesting paper (I'll edit this post later and put in a link) that was a PhD dissertation that presented a model of Chess performance. I've only skimmed it but I'll give an extremely simplified version of his model. He basically asserts that during deliberate practice, templates, which are patterns related to board positions, are stored in long term memory. Each template is associated with a production rule (basically a rule of "when this pattern exists->do that") During play, these patterns are retrieved, and the move is made according to the rule.
The long term memory templates are only stored in a retrievable form during deep study, not casual play. (Obviously, an oversimplification there, but internet blitz chess would indeed be practically useless if he's right.) Experts have a large number of templates stored as a consequence of doing lots of deliberate practice.
This fits with a lot of what people have said here. Chess requires a "good memory", but it's a specific sort of memory. The analytical, mathematical style of thinking is only used when there aren't any templates that match, which means it is of little use, so people with high IQs don't have a great deal of an advantage. The commonality with face recognition may also fit here. Recognizing a face is not a conscious process, when done well. Similarly, masters don't consciously recognize good moves, they just see them, because a template matches.
If the guy is right, it explains the loose correlation between IQ and Chess ability, and the strong dependence on intense practice among even gifted individuals. One thing I wonder about though is how his model deals with child prodigies. Ruifeng Li is currently the highest ranked 10 year old in the US. By coincidence, his first rated tournament was also my son's first rated tournament. Ruifeng was a normal 5 year old. He had played Chess, but didn't have a coach. His dad was a reasonable club player, but there were plenty in the club better. In other words, Ruifeng did not put in a lot of "deliberate practice" at that time of his life. However, at the end of that tournament, Ruifeng had a rating of over 1000. It seems to me that inborn ability, natural talent, must somehow be at work there.
Also, his model does bode ill for anyone who took up Chess after our 40th birthday. That sort of long term memory formation is really much more difficult later in life. If his model is correct, learning Chess could still be done later in life, but anyone attempting it must be prepared to work a lot harder than the teenager at the next table.
I took up chess at eight, was terrible until I read a chess book at 15, did not play in my 20s, played my first rated chess tournament at 35 (rating 1250). At 36 I was a C class player. At 45 I crossed over 1600. At 49 I
became an A class player. I expect to make expert before age 54 and master by 60.
You are never too old to learn, but good diet and physical exercise becomes more important element of chess training with each passing year.
I'm glad you shared that, James. You have demonstrated that becoming a good chess player is not based on instant gratification.
I played as a teen and sporadically to age 25. I didn't have a rating but was good enough to beat anyone at work on chess ladders or in the neighborhood. Probably not better than 1400...which isn't too shabby for casual play.
Had a 40 year absence but over the last couple of years, I've been studying and practicng and playing against engines or acquantances to where I am B. My goal is A, and I believe I'll get there in a year or so.
Takes effort. Takes patience. Takes a willingness to trudge through plateaus and eventually bust to the upside, hit another plateau and repeat. That's if you want to reach a goal.
No...this age thing is more excuses. I will say that advanced age doesn't help. But guys in their 40ies or 50ies who think they are too old to think well enough...even my 61-year old buddy, cabby...they make me laugh. Can't break through maybe 1200 because of age, spatial deficiency, hernias, etc.
Of course, chess really isn't for everyone. Some of these guys should just take up knitting. (lol)
Top level old men are very uncommon. How many old men made it to be world champion? I can only think of Steinitz and Alekhine.
The model says that Chess improvement requires large amounts of information be committed to long term memory. If that model is correct, then Chess improvement, especially for people with no previous Chess history, would be slower among older players.
That doesn't mean that anyone is too old to improve. It just means that older players would have to work harder for the same level of improvement.
And of course, the model hasn't been confirmed. It was good enough for one guy to get a PhD, but that's hardly the same thing as being the consensus of the scientific community.
Is this even on subject anymore? lol
I can't recall any octogenarian world champs. But, that's not what we are talking about.
There are guys blaming old age (40?, 50? 61?...yeah, especially him) on their not being able to break 1200. See?
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