Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Chess: What it Really Takes

Just as I was preparing to reproduce the article in full linked here from chessVibes, under 'What do we think of chess skill?', as I was typing this, first trying to find the source link to the referenced article below, found another similar but distinctly seperate article that chessBase JUST published, so must reproduce only the summary from chessVibes here, so that I can instead follow up with more content from the second article [1]:

'What are the effects of amount of practice, coaching and age of starting chess on chess skill? And how do we chess players view such notions as skill and talent? Dr Robert Howard of the University of New South Wales in Australia carried out a survey and its preliminary results answer a few of these questions.

'On June 15 we
invited you to take part in a survey on chess skill by Dr Robert Howard of the University of New South Wales in Australia. Howard’s study of chess skill looks at effects of amount of practice, coaching and age of starting chess on chess skill and at chess players’ views about chess skill. The study involves a short online survey and is for anyone who has, or who ever has had, a FIDE rating. (Participating is still possible; if you’re interested and you have an FIDE rating, please click here.)

Double Click Image to Enlarge

'We have now received the preliminary results:

'Preliminary Results of FIDE Chess Survey

'Thanks to everyone who took part in this survey. Here are the preliminary results. The sample consist of 581 players to date, with five grandmasters, 25 international masters, 67 FIDE masters, two woman’s grandmasters, two woman’s international masters, and two woman’s FIDE masters. The results are only preliminary, however.
Some highlights:

'Players learned the moves at a median age of eight years old (masters about two years younger). The median age of starting serious play and taking part in the first rated tournament is 14, 12 for masters. Most players have had coaching. Players average around five or six hours of chess study a week, but the range is huge (0 to 60 hours). Number of hours of study of chess material is a factor in expertise level but only a relatively minor one.

'Most players firmly believe in natural talent for chess and most believe that top ten players have some special traits, that few really can reach that level. However, many believe that a lot of study and practice can take a player a long way. Some believe that almost everyone can get to FIDE master with enough practice and study.

'Views on what natural talent for chess consists of vary, but some common ideas are good spatial ability, high IQ, good memory, creativity, high motivation, a strong will to win, control over emotions, and psychological hardiness.

Le-Mont St-Michel

'Eventual grandmasters take a median 390 FIDE-rated games from rating list entry to gain the title. Most players do not play anywhere near enough rated games in their careers to have a realistic chance of becoming a grandmaster. About two thirds of those who do play over 900games actually succeed in becoming a grandmaster. However, those who play over 740 games without becoming a grandmaster on average seem to strike an impassable barrier at around 2400 level.

'Analysis of rating data of players who played over 900 FIDE-rated games show that eventual top ten players indeed are identifiable from list entry. They get on the rating list much younger on average, get the grandmaster title much younger and much faster, and rise in theratings much faster than other grandmasters.

'Most believe that playing rated games and studying are equally important in developing skill.

'Read the full article
here [highly recommended, dk].

'For any queries, please contact
Dr Robert Howard, University of New South Wales.

'Not very surprising results, although I’d like to mention a few that struck me.1) “Number of hours of study of chess material is a factor in expertise level but only a relatively minor one.” This sort of confirms my impression that playing many (tournament) games is the best way to improve your chess. But not everybody agrees: “Most believe that playing rated games and studying are equally important in developing skill.”2) “Some believe that almost everyone can get to FIDE master with enough practice and study.” I was one of those, and I was speaking of a purely theoretical situation where you pick a random person in the street and put him in some kind of villa where he receives 8 hours of excellent training every day for a few years, and plays against many strong players. As long as this person likes chess, I think he(/she!) should be able to reach about 2200, 2300 FIDE'.

Were these riches not enough, chessBase just published a monster article every bit as good:

'Mind Games: Who is Doing the Playing? [link, title left, dk]

10.12.2008 – Discoveries on consciousness have inspired Norwegian philosopher Rune Vik-Hansen to forge a new view on development of chess skills. Challenging the current pedagogical climate, which claims that talent is insignificant and exposure to material a magic formula, he clarifies why blunders in chess are caused by a lack of interplay between consciousness and mind. Treatise with summary.


'Born out of recent findings from the field of consciousness and mind, the article explains that chess playing is based upon a fine interplay between a mind subconsciously triggering moves, and a well disciplined consciousness knowing what to keep and what to discard. The highly popular opinion that chess playing is done solely by a conscious self is challenged.

'Disputing the concept of “conscious memory”, it is shown that that one cannot remember material by acts of volition, and that development of chess skills cannot be explained by concepts revolving around consciousness.The article takes to task the current pedagogical claims that talent is of no significance and that exposure to chess material will bring the aspiring player equally far, and also the prevalent understanding that passion for, taking an interest in and believing in what you do are important components in improvement, chess or otherwise. On the contrary, the text demonstrates the significance of innate ability, and that passion and interest merely can direct our attention towards certain fields of study, but that acquiring skills involves different mental processes than these.Avoiding blunders being a major component in development of chess skills, they are here explained as caused by a flawed interplay between consciousness and mind, based upon the distinction between seeing and perceiving. A possible solution to the problem is suggested.

'A closer look is taken at the highly popular concept in chess lingua, “pattern recognition”. By pinpointing functional as well as conceptual problems, it is shown that the concept does not meaningfully lend itself to explain chess playing. Specific idiosyncrasies between patterns and structures are scrutinized to show that the conceptual problems run deeper than mere semantics. The fundamental difference is argued by looking at how these two relate to each other, and how they are expressed in chess discourse and chess literature. Since no formal definition of “pattern” in chess exists, it is impossible effectively to meaningfully communicate “pattern recognition” as a workable concept to explain the development of chess skills. To then explain chess playing and support the claim that the idea of “pattern recognition” is highly problematic, “exformation” is introduced as a new concept to chess discourse, thinking and communication.

'Upon closure, chess playing is compared with judgment in the field of morality, trying to explain that just as in morality, chess players constantly encounter and have to deal with situations (positions) never before encountered.Finally, it is offered why many present methods of study will not seriously improve or develop chess skills. In context of the undertaken analysis, Kotov’s method is suggested for chess improvement, and it is explained why it works.
Note: you can use the "Print" function on the left to get a printer-friendly version of this article'.

Hope you all enjoy! Warmest, dk

[1] I sent this to BDK and, to his great credit, already was aware of the article. Nice going!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Alzheimer ELO

The bad news is I honestly remembered it that way, but heck, its been 37 years since 1973 when I last played! If I intended to misrepresent this to you guys and gals, the last three years, I would NEVER publish this. LOL on dk. Fire at me guys!

The good news is, I am serious about this, that way friends and foe alike will be able to find me online:

Dear Walter:

Charles Galore (FM) of Florida told me you were very responsive, and this is greatly appreciated. He also said you were very nice.

What a delight to not only get positive confirmation from the USCF, but at that to receive it from one of the well known Sanctus Sanctus of enterprising chess from the same era that I also played, albeit at my MUCH lower level back in the day. How poetic!

Question, but correct me if I am wrong, but will the variability of future wins/loses for my next 14 games (I assume this makes the 25 required to no longer be provisional) still be tied to calculations using the old rated 11 players, from before? That is to say, is it true those are used, and not that you start me at 1452, and only calculate 14 games? I don’t know how this works, but need a little reassurance there is a solid method from grandfathered ratings.

I will be sure to send good words back to the good GM Yaz.

Thank you again!

Warmest, dk

When Help Comes: Even Bobby Fischer to Wade...

-----Original Message-----

From: Walter Brown wbrown@_________.com
Sent: Friday, December 05, 2008 1:12 PM
To: transformation@_________.com
Subject: Re: USCF 8323: Ratings Question or Problem
U.S. Chess Web Inquiry wrote:

From: David Korn, Seattle
Date: Wed 3 Dec 2008 6:49:29 pm CST
Agent: Mozilla/4.0
Subject: USCF 8323: Ratings Question or Problem

Dear USCF:

I plan on re-joining the USCF, but have been away for 34 years! I was 1667 or 1671 or 1668 elo, provisional, at age 14, for 12/14 or 16 games, cannot recall, maybe 8 games but think more. It was published in the back of the old Chess Life & Review for the next three years. I lived in New Jersey. Born October __, 1958. Member, Montclair Chess Club, tournament director Al Gruter (sp?).

I am told that the USCF always wants to know if you have ever played in a rated tournament before, so wish to be prepared and know the procedure.

The condition of my joining is the suitable resolution of this. Thank you.

David Korn
close friend of GM Seirawan's.

David Korn: I found your record in the 1975 annual list and you were 1452 for 11 games.
Walter Brown, USCF

Please, if any of you suffer from Sadness or Depression,
do not play this Johnny Cash video. Warning.

That said, it is among his best ever songs. It might rip your heart in two to hear it [2].

On a more serious note, I heard from the State today. Leave it to likeForest to be one step ahead of everyone else, ALWAYS. For on Thanksgiving day, he simply asks me: 'Are they going to pursue terminate with cause?' ... guy even knows the exact term.

I just spent the entire day writing my side of the story, and now I need to go run for a whole hour to work off the shakes and trembles and tension. Sleep on the deadly contaminated waste, and FAX them the letter tomorrow after revision founded on rest. Bastards in corporate will do all they can to save a dime. Really.

I told it like it is. My boss, and my old boss copied me their two letters tdoay, and both are, to say the least, not at all accurate (which is putting it nicely) as to the facts, obligating me all the more so to set it the record straight as I don't want to be in any way associated with this story that they tell. Damn.

Warmest, dk [3]


[1] Polly aka Castling Queenside, bless her kindest beautiful heart is also mailing me a photocopy of the same GM Brown referenced. LikeForest also so kindly and generously offered to make a special trip to the library to furninsh the same. All great friends! Thank you!

[2] I am particularly indebted to my very dear friend and now colleague, Phaedrus, for sending me this vdieo. He only sends me fine jewels because he himself is one also.

[3] In college, the hardest professor called me Korn's Cornucopia on a good day.
'The cornucopia (Latin: Cornu Copiae) is a symbol of food and abundance'.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Retrieving My Old USCF Rating

Attention bloggers over age fifty and inveterate collectors of, *well*, stuff, does anyone out there have old issues of 'Chess, Life, & Review', between 1973-76? I know this must come as a real shock to most of you, but I was once forteen years old.

If the USCF cannot respond appropriately, I need to furnish proof, I assume, of my old 1667 provisional rating. This puts me one step closer to joining the USCF and so, play some over the board chess. I am preparing. And, why yes, I have the time now!

The Caro-Kann, Slav, QGA&D, anti-Indian variations from 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5, Endings, and CT-Art 3.0. Yes, there is enough to do! Any help in finding old issues (ratings lists) much appreciated.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Major Life Changes

Grinding Halt Takes Eons

After six years working for the second largest building materials company worldwide, it’s over. That they performed their shameless deed the day before Thanksgiving, is now but a small minor detail illustrating the real lack of human regard of the prototypical, modern major, business enterprise.

Was it not Jesus who said: "By their fruits you will know them"?

And if that were not enough, when I got home, I made the appropriately immediate phone call to my now aged--but still very alert mother--who before I could tell her MY news asked me: 'Did you hear?' Since she was the one who informated me about the 9-11 attack in September 2002, with her again serious tone of voice, I suddenly had good reason to feel morbidly anxious.

What terrorist now, I thought? "In India, they were shooting hundreds, asking, 'where are the American's and British?' ... Steven was there, just last week in the same hotel".

My older brother, who travels the world at a Director level doing large scale enterprise consulting (aka 'System Integration) in travel and finance for one of the many large India computor services companies, had indeed been there at the exact same hotel in Mumbai just days before. The thoughts that go through our head. So that's when I got to tell her. This was all within the hour of getting uncerimoniously fired. Not the best of days!

Let’s face it, if an employer needs a reason to fire four people all at once, they can always find a way to do it. It's never pretty, but to me its all just economics, as I am not bitter, and have appreciated the last six years—truly. I have met hundreds of thousands of persons, and some real portion of them were the best encountered ever anywhere, I kid you not.

I have had much to say about the economy, and now my similarity to many persons in dire straights has only increased. While right now my overall health is very good [1] and my emotional state good, the system is oversupplied with job applicants—at every conceivable level. For example, JP-Morgan Chase, who bought failed Seattle based Thrift WAMU, just last night announced layoffs of 3,400 persons, and this clogs the State Unemployment system, and on the margin, vastly increased the already swelled ranks for job seekers.

Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Areas [1.1]

On principle, I had and have every intention of staying here, but in this economy MUST allow myself to entertain any reasonable job offer in any place, since my best shot of technical [2] sales clearly now take me anywhere, to any enterprise, doing anything. Yikes. I don’t want to leave this place; I want my mountains; I want my moderate climate; I want my diversity. But I want to sustain my economic viability even more.

This is first and foremost a chess blog, even if I roam current affairs, society, the planets, the soul, the edge of things. For the last seven weeks, I have been playing on line chess ‘every single day’ [3]. This has been my stress release. I was already looking for a new job, and for the last year, at work, I was already all but fired anyway, and kept around like a pig ready for slaughter. See the post called Hopeless at my other blog devoted to Inner Work.

I said I wasn’t bitter. That’s true. But it's also more than true to say that as the single highest paid person who was not a manager--AND paid more than most of the main managers--it was a testament to my work ethic that I was able to survive the last year under brutal top management's unrelenting pressure, ceaseless scrutiny, compulsive criticism, micro-inspection seeking blame and 'make wrong' at all costs, limitless demands, and implied threat [4] in a boundless parade of the divine comedy which in and of itself perfectly exemplified the full spectacle of ignorance, arrogance, and stupidity. Where is Rabelas and Cervantes now?

Along with that, I have been processing and viewing reams, hoards of high level GM games in chessBase daily. I hate to say it again, but more on that latter [7] as if to say that if I was already way too preoccupied with ‘the job situation’ the last three months since the financial crisis emerged [8], then that much more now. That hit the emergency break on blogging as you know it from me.

Thirdly, I have yet again resumed working at CT-Art 3/0, and as before, take a lot of time on each position. I set up a small travel set, and keep two boards for two positions open at a time. With the first open, I try to solve it; the second one is for pondering. Once the first is attempted in the program and have gone as far as I can absolutley go no further, the second assumes the fore, when I attempt the first problem formally and directly at the computor here, and open a new, second position.

Who are these rash fools who think that they have done CT-Art 3.0 in two months or two weeks? Did they ever calculate all the lines? Did they see the board or just 'click, click', and eat the virtual Fast Food of McTactics? No. Two years or more if you really spend real time on it. Not possibly any less than a year if they really concentrated.

If you do one CTA3 in less than a day, well *ahem* , then you never really saw the fucking board. Don't kid yourself with more dilusion. CTA3 is not about sustaining your dilusion but annihilating it and this, pal, is not fast. Remember, 'takes you to Master Level'. Master level is about rarety from 1500 to 1700 elo and rarety is not, sorry to say, fast.

Often, I take them to my bed early each evening for my beloved daily nap. By the time I have moved the curser ONCE, to attempt the position, I have calculated every variation that I can. Artificial a measure though it may be, 2200 elo is still not attainable by someone who does not know something about chess, and who has studied a lot of tactics, and learned to calculate. Half way through Level Five, you really need to be able to first conceive an irrational move then see the best reply, THEN be able to envision an another counter-intuitive chess move, then a best reply, and THEN more of the same for many a ply. Its very hard, the way I do it. No moving pieces, just a deep brain stare!

After that, my enchantment with CTS continues. While I can no longer spend hours there, and at 50,000+ tries I have spared no effort, I manage after long breaks totally away from there, to make my way back. My motive now is to get to 96.5001% as dogWaste finally, and to get to 50,000 tries at 90.0501% as dkTransform. Its diminishing returns now, and the prize far and away lays elsewhere, such as CT-Art or Secrets of Pawn Endings, or Shereshevsky’s Endgame Strategy.

Finally I am working on repertoire. If any of you are on ICC, and not using wimpB to refine your openings, by playing a set sequence of moves 1450-1650 for blitz [9] which at the main departure point of the tabaya will vary its responses, forcing you to really learn your ‘lines’, then shame, shame on you!

Also, at FICS, I took what was gained from that concenrated burst at ICC and now only play a set repertoire. As a consequence of that, when I get to a place where I don’t have a set response to a new fundamental position, then endeavor to find or develop one. It might be very simple and need not be elaborate, such as always using g3 against the Dutch Defense. The main idea is--good or bad—to take a position, explore it, and not deviate until you reach a dead end and fail, then reassess, and so on [10].

The best for last. I while I must focus on my job search, yes, I do work at my chess daily. I have printed a list of all USCF events in the Northwest in the next few months, and it is my definite intent to see if I can get my old 1670 USCF back and if they wont let me start from there, well, start over!

Warmest, dk

The Low Point of the Last Seventy Years

[ 1] The blood pressure with the adrenal supplement program is now again excellent, and this is one more instance of integrative or holistic health bypassing the mere masking of symptoms by allopathic medicine, which only tries to suppress or inhibit them instead of getting at root cause. I do admit, while my current program has assuaged the prior (pre-hypertension), its still very, very hard for me to sleep normally. I am running daily again, and as I quickly re-establish the ability to run for an hour or more, this aught to help the sleep mightily (I hope)!

[1.1] A very nice list of MSA's or Metropolitan Statical Areas, is shown here. You want to know America? Then you must know this!

[2] The essence of my resume is my being the rare person who can communicate well, talk, write, do presentations all while being very comfortable with Contact, Project, and Knowledge Management alike. This is my calling card. A spreadsheet, technical, financial or visual data person who can negotiate and lead who it just so happens, is highly creative. Try explaining that one to blind server agents only capable of reading blind ASCE *.txt data!

[3] Ok, ok. Not every single day, but 42 of the last 46 days, where I maintain perfect cumulative records of history both at FICS, ICC, and now Chess Cube [5] (my warm up place).

[4] The fact that I challenged senior and middle management on a regular basis only made it more so—my lasting there, proving that I gave them real dollar value, despite their repeatedly reminding me how much I was paid :) . In computing, this relates to what is called ‘the deadly embrace’ [6].

[5] Despite its lack of full features such as access to automated pgn reports, or performance history, this lack of professional polish gives it some appeal. I don’t need to invest much in my feelings about it. Almost, just, just almost 1700 in blitz yesterday, but not quite… At the same time, the game board interface is very pleasant, baring a clock too small for me since I play tight, increment games at 3/3 there, which is five minutes for 40 moves but avoids some stupid Armageddon.

[6] Information about the deadly embrace, can be found here,
The Apollo Syndrome. Definition of The Deadly Embrace: This is a term used in computing some years ago to signify a problem between two computer programs - where each prevents the other from making progress.

"What happens is that Program A takes exclusive control of record 1, and program B takes record 2. Program A then tries to get exclusive access to record 2, but as this is under exclusive control of the other program, it can't. The program then waits until record 2 is released. Meanwhile, program B tries to get exclusive control of record 1, but can't, as it is under the exclusive control of program A. Program B waits until record 1 is released. Therefore, neither program can make any progress because it is waiting for the other program to give way. A similar situation can occur in discussions if each person is trying to get the other to concede the flaws in his/her argument, without conceding the flaws in his own. The way out of this situation is to look for the points of agreement, rather than trying to spot flaws."

[7] I plan to write two major essays: the first is to be called ‘Letters to a Not So Young BDK’ (only meant in the chess sense, of course), of course referring to my previously written
Letters to a Young Blue Devil Knight) from 2005; the second takes on advanced issues of organizing high level data at chessBase, with Polly, Castling Queenside as the Proxy.

[8] I have had a mark on my head made more prominent since the Housing and Financial Crisis erupted.

[9] WimpB always and only plays 2/8, or 7:20 for forty moves. Very reasonable rate of play for compressing lots and lots of chess knowledge. Let me suggest wimpC or WimpD for others, to same affect.

[10 ] After I wrote this, I today found at Greg's Chess Progress a very similar sensible comment made by Jon Burgess (not The GM John Burgess cum Nunn, Graham NCO kind. Jon has a new blog appropriately named similarly to Ivan Getting to 2000 blog interestingly called: ' Getting Back to 2300'.