Friday, July 9, 2010

10,000 hours to Grandmaster

There's a story about the legendary golfer who was interviewed by a reporter after winning a major tournament.

"Mr. Hogan," said the reporter, "You were under amazing pressure in this tourney yet you consistently hit remarkable shots. How do you do it?"

"Hmm," said the laconic Hogan, "I suppose I'm just lucky."

"Just luck?" said the reporter. "But you practice more than any player on the tour."

"Well," said Hogan, "I guess the more I practice, the luckier I get."

Let me ask the question "Is a chess grandmaster born or bred?". My answer will be that it is the latter. Many chess parents asks me, "How many hours do you spend on chess". I usually try not to answer that because in my early years I spent a huge amount of my waking hours on chess, so much  that I felt embarrassed to reveal the real answer. No parent would want their children to spend that much time on what is essentially a game.
If you do not believe that it takes an enormous amount of time to be good at anything, then the book "Outliers:The Story of Success" written by Macolm Gladwell might change your mind.

Gladwell talks about the 10000 hours theory. This theory proposes that to become an expert in ANY field requires 10000 hours of deliberate practice. Not only that but the practice must be to continually push the boundaries. Just putting in an enormous amount of time but without intelligent application of these hours is just pure drudgery and unlikely to produce the expected results.

Chess players need coaches to find their boundaries and set actions for them to break through to the next level. Left on their own, players will have great difficulties to reach their boundaries and most will give up the game.


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