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What are the unique psychological ingredients of the minds of top chess players? Obviously, a certain level of intelligence is essential but by no means do you need to be a member of Mensa. The potential threshold for strong intermediate chess performance (someone who is pretty damn good) is remarkably low: verbal and numerical IQs between 85 and 90, where 100 is the average. What is more, expert tournament chess players can have IQs only slightly above average (110–115).
It is true that top players tend to have higher scores than less good players on tests of numerical reasoning and processes such as pattern recognition or forward search for moves. They also have astonishing memories for these patterns. The question is why you have them.
It would be a big mistake to assume that they are genetically inherited – the Human Genome Project appears to be proving that genes play little or no role in causing differences in intelligence. Rather, it is now indisputably proved that, overall, ability at chess is caused by practice.
No one has ever attained the level of an international chess master with less than a decade's intense preparation. Garry Kasparov became the youngest-ever world champion at 22 after years of practice. The age at which players start and the hours played predict success but time alone playing chess is not enough. Studies show the amount of time devoted to "deliberate practice" predicted skill, in particular, serious analysis of chess positions.
So if a lot of the right kind of practice makes perfect, what determines that? There is evidence that mathematically minded people are more liable to symptoms of Asperger's syndrome (unable to put oneself in other's shoes, prone to withdrawing into obsessive inner lives, sometimes exceptionally gifted).
While I am certain that genetics will ultimately be proved to be the cause of most autism, there is also strong evidence that autistic symptoms can be induced by severe emotional neglect in early life – symptoms of full autism are six times commoner in children from orphanages.
Not every grandmaster has Asperger's but it is likely that a high proportion would be people whose early lives have led them to escape the world of people into one of abstract chess patterns, obsessively so. As in the case of Bobby Fischer, chess becomes a way to feel in control and to achieve a measure of social acceptance.
Oliver James's book for parents of under-threes, How Not To F*** Them Up, is out now
I noticed with a smile you have slipped in the term 'exceptionally gifed'.
If as this article says 'genes play little or no role in human in intelligence' then the great question to be answered is what does ?
Perhaps we need to stop probing for reasons and accept the facts as they stand: some are poor some are average, some are good and some are very good while a few are brilliant.
By the way Im practicing to be very intelligent in time I will become a genius.
I have no doubt that study and practice is key. I once asked Natalia Pogognina what she thought made a great chess player. The Chess.com member and top 40 womens' player told me she had no unusual aptitude for the game as a child and only endless hours of practice made her the player she is today.
But that doesn't surprise me in the least. I can't think of any area of human endeavor where excellence comes before practice and/or study.
I would add only the simple fact that I know everything, it is just that I can't remember it all at the same time.lol
yes sorry, I can't take anyone who says that, genes play a slim to none role in intelligence and autism, serious. Play some more chess
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