Flowingly

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A hungarian guy made Mozart-like, prodigy chess players out of his three daughters

with 3 comments

Prodigy as in 8th place in the world.

[…] Chess correspondents Malcolm Pein and David Norwood describe her [Judit Polgar]Polgar sisters as ‘incredibly personable and nice’ and ‘very sweet, quite fun and not big-headed’. Both men were beaten by her at a time when they were established players and she was a small child. ‘She became a legend so quickly,’ says Norwood. ‘We all knew about Zsuzsa and Zsofia and then along came Judit, the littlest of them and the prettiest and the best player. She was this cute little auburn-haired monster who crushed you.’ (telegraph.co.uk)

[…] Laszlo battled Hungarian authorities for permission to homeschool his children, and he and Klara then taught them German, English and high-level math. (All three are multilingual; Susan speaks seven languages, including Esperanto, fluently.) They swam occasionally and played Ping-Pong, and a 20-minute breather just for joke telling was penciled in each day. But their world was largely mapped onto the 64 squares of the chessboard [~8 hours a day]. “My dad believed in optimizing early childhood instead of wasting time playing outside or watching TV,” Susan says.

[…] Anders Ericsson is only vaguely familiar with the Polgars, but he has spent over 20 years building evidence in support of Laszlo’s theory of genius. Ericsson, a professor of psychology at Florida State University, argues that “extended deliberate practice” is the true, if banal, key to success. “Nothing shows that innate factors are a necessary prerequisite for expert-level mastery in most fields,” he says. (The only exception he’s found is the correlation between height and athletic achievement in sports, most clearly for basketball and volleyball.) His interviews with 78 German pianists and violinists revealed that by age 20, the best had spent an estimated 10,000 hours practicing, on average 5,000 hours more than a less accomplished group. Unless you’re dealing with a cosmic anomaly like Mozart, he argues, an enormous amount of hard work is what makes a prodigy’s performance look so effortless.

[…] The Polgars’ high-rise apartment in downtown Budapest was a shrine to unremitting chess practice. Thousands of chess books were stuffed onto shelves. Trophies and boards cluttered the living room. A file card system took up an entire wall. It included records of previous games for endless analytical pleasure and even an index of potential competitors’ tournament histories. Framed prints depicting 19th-century chess scenes served as decor in the main room, where the girls often sat cross-legged on the floor, playing blindfolded blitz games that lasted mere minutes.

[…] [Laszlo] owns 10,000 books about chess and has written 15 (not all of them published). Judit describes how he used to sit up all night filing chess reports on index cards which, when boxed, took up an entire wall.

[…] Laszlo once found Sophia in the bathroom in the middle of the night, a chessboard balanced across her knees. “Sophia, leave the pieces alone!” he said, shaking his head. “Daddy, they won’t leave me alone!” she replied.

[…] When grandmasters play chess, the areas responsible for long-term memory and higher-level processing are activated. Chess titans have anywhere from 20,000 to 100,000 configurations of pieces, or patterns, committed to memory. They are able to quickly pull relevant information from this mammoth database. With a mere glance, a grandmaster can then figure out how the configuration in front of him is likely to play itself out. Amateurs, by contrast, use short-term memory while playing chess. When they take in new information, it stays in the “small hard drive” of working memory without passing over into the “zip drive” of long-term memory. Amateurs are overwriting things they’ve already learned,” says Amidzic. “Can you imagine how frustrating that is!”

[…] Amidzic’s research suggests that chess whizzes are born with the tendency to process chess more through their frontal and parietal cortices, the areas thought to be responsible for long-term memory. Players whose medial temporal lobes are activated more will be consigned to mediocrity. (psychologytoday.com)

[…] Psychologists recognise (and brain-science confirms) a distinction between short-term “working” memory and long-term memory. Dr. Ericsson believes that prodigies get such impressive mileage out of their working memories by placing important pieces of information into their long-term memories in a way that makes them accessible to working-memory processes. According to Dr Ericsson, this “long-term working memory” is the essential ingredient for expert performance in any field, from chess to typing to golf, and can be developed at will. (economist.com)

Amateurs are overwriting things they’ve already learned,”

Once you learn a fact, you need to refresh your memory shortly before forgetting takes place. ” – Flashcards, Spaced Repetition Effect

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Written by flowingly

June 22, 2007 at 22:07

3 Responses

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  1. So… if you make a detector of brain waves and punish the human when using the short term memory by, let’s say, electric shock to the balls, the subject becomes more likely to succeed in life.

    Siderite

    July 13, 2007 at 10:52

  2. Hope you’re not sharing your experiences :))

    It’s a story about performance. I think ppl should know that it takes work (and that sometimes work can become, God forbid, enjoyable).

    It’s a basic tactic in marketing to promise quick and easy effects. We all want and hope for it. Rarely works.

    From what I’ve read, we use the short-term memory anyway, the question is if the info is encoded/made accessible for the long term too.

    flowingly

    July 13, 2007 at 18:18

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