Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Mark of Genius: Memory, Autism, and Chess

A copy of my note just now at CTS (chess tactical server), when chessDog asked "Did anyone catch the show on the savant Kim Peek 'The Real Rainman' I dont know if that guy has ever played chess but he could easily dominant this website by simply memorizing every problem!?" (short video version, here:)

As I wrote at CTS: "On a side note with regards to Kim Peek: yes, there are chess folks like this. In a personal conversation with the Worid Junior Chess Champion, in one of our long walks together, who till recently was in the world top 75 in FIDE elo ranking, and at one time was in the top ten or so in the world, beating Kasparov and Karpov alike (the prior several times, as few have done, and the latter three times in a row at blitz, the latter saying to him: 'No one else has ever done that to me the 2nd K said'), he who it is best for me not to mention in this circumstance by name but well known in identity to my friends or readers of my blog, said that it is

'Widely understood by Grandmasters that Vassily Ivanchuk is probably autistic. He also loves poetry, and has memorized one hundred Russian poems. I asked his wife,'why did it not last? Were you both too young?' 'No. That wasn't it at all. With Vassily, all there was chess, chess, chess, and more chess'.

Another look of true disturbed genius! Or, as Nietzsche said in Beyond Good and Evil: 'Whatever happened to me? Did the sirens fly over my table?'

As many of you know, Svidler can go into a deep think often closing his eyes, but it is one thing to play blindfold, and another as a habitual way of being or thinking to calculate chess in great depth without a a board, seeing or knowing better in his own head what others cannot see with a board! He is often seen staring into space--away from the board--for long periods of time. A true Genius. His elo now? 2787 puts him firmly at number two in the world--ahead of all but Anand, and of course ahead of the likes of meerly Kramnik, Topolov, Leko, Morovzevich, Mamedyarov, and Rabjabov! And absent from Mexico City. Boo! Boo! Boooo.

Here is the link, to the longer, full version of video 'The Real Rain Man'. Most highly recommended!

Lastly, I am working on a major post, on the state of my chess, part iii. More latter, Warmly, dk


Blogger Temposchlucker said...

Thanks for sharing.
So maybe IM Finegold is right.

"[I think] if you want to be 2200 and you are currently 1600. . .reading Silman books is step 1, step 2 is a lobotomy. . ." - IM Ben Finegold on Jeremy Silman's books

Wed Oct 17, 03:21:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous chessdog said...

hey bro,
i'm glad you scoped that out and posted that stuff for others who may not be familiar with him. my guess is that kim peek wouldn't make to good a chess player as he seems to lack the ability the plan or rationalize things out, he seems to just be going on memory recall...but wow...what an amazing recall that dude has! very interesting stuff.

chessdog out...

Wed Oct 17, 11:58:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Samuraipawn said...

I saw an interview with Kim Peek not long ago. It's scary man!

Wed Oct 17, 12:58:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Rolf said...

Sorry for having to disagree a bit but to compare Ivanchuk to Peek or at least to call Ivanchuk an autist, this is excuse me far stretched and certainly wrong IMO. I fear people confuse something. A true savant (-idiot, because that is the complete expression)is defined as someone who is inable to live a normal daily life and you can take this literally. No crossing a road, no accurate hair combing. I've never met Ivanchuk, but alone from his appearence, it's unthinkable that he could be autistic, no way. And the whole story is kind of insultive for such a brilliant chessplayer.

Also this eyes closed thinking - to be indicating that syndrome - is like crazy IMO. Let me clarify that for every chessplayer it is rule number one to think ahead, and that is done nolens volens by imagining the next pictures of the situations on the board. If you do this by looking into the air or looking into the audience, what Shirov always does, or focussing the board, this is all a question of habits. I can only beg you to be reasonable with such hypotheses about mental defects or disabilities. IMO there is not a single chessplayer among the best who is in that rank only based on memory. The other way round it becomes true. Without such a superb memory you cant play top chess, but it's not everything. Finegold made a sarcastic joke, not more.

Sat Jan 26, 03:51:00 AM PST  
Blogger transformation said...

thank you Rolf, all well said, fair, and more than understandable that you would respond like this. i appreciate what you say.

to be clear, again: a top grandmaster told me this, someone at that very top. not a journalist or a blogger, but a personal friend of mine that i have spend many hours with and about 1,500 emails to and from in the last 5 years. perhaps i need to say semi-autistic of somewhat autistic, was related to me.

i do not make these accessments based on his face or staring off, but from things related personally to me.

i dont mean to be rude. but repeatedly at chessVibes this has been asked, and i have 'sat on my hands' on this issue, that is to say, not the 'truth' but only what i have been privy to.

i do write a blog, and do not attempt to portray history, or intelectual truth, but to provoke, to question, to probe, that is all.

you are right. Peek and ivanchuk and daniel tannet is not wholey correct. but to be autistic or semi-autistic are not unrelated.

if this is untrue, lets have it come out or surface this mischaracterization. and if it is true, lets all admit it, as is 'widely known among grandmasters' but not discussed publically. ok?

best regards, david

Sat Jan 26, 04:24:00 AM PST  

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