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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

This is Research?!

     I was on the website Science Daily the other day and came across some articles on chess. One was titled Chess Masters Are Quick On The Trigger from the American Psychological Society. 
     The article's observation: Chess is typically envisioned as a game of concentration and deliberation, not to be rushed. But research suggests that it's actually a player's split-second intuitions that make the master according to Bruce D. Burns of Michigan State University.
     Players' ratings at normal tournament chess were compared to their ratings at blitz chess. In blitz (5-minute games) players don't have the time to mull over their moves and are forced to rely on their immediate intuition. What Burns found was that players' ratings at normal chess were remarkably accurate predictors of their ratings at blitz, especially among higher-ranked players. Among lower rated players, performance at normal chess didn't seem to relate quite as strongly to their performance at blitz. (No, I'm not kidding!  That's what his research discovered.)
     The article continued: this suggests that the skills chess masters use in normal chess are the same as those they use in blitz: lightning-fast intuition. Less-skilled players' instincts aren't as developed as those of the experts. So, even though the pros can use their instincts to think of a good move in a matter of seconds, it takes a while to consider all the other possible moves and decide on the best one. 
     Seriously, it took a “study” to figure out that strong masters would be better at blitz than patzers?! And the conclusion that it's actually a player's split-second intuitions that make the master just doesn't sound right. 

     In ScienceDaily, 20 May 2013 there was another article about another study at Michigan State University (Practice makes perfect? Not so much) that stated the old adage "practice makes perfect" may be overblown. 
     Zach Hambrick found that a lot of practice didn't explain why people differ in level of skill in chess and music. He concluded it takes more than hard work to become an expert.
     Hambrick, writing in the research journal Intelligence, said natural talent and other factors likely play a role in mastering a complicated activity.  The debate over why and how people become experts has existed for a long time. Some have argued that thousands of hours of focused, deliberate practice is sufficient to achieve elite status. But, Hambrick said the evidence is quite clear that some people do reach an elite level of performance without a lot of practice while other people fail to do so no matter how much they practice. 
     Hambrick and his colleagues analyzed 14 studies of chess players and musicians, looking specifically at how practice was related to differences in performance. Practice, they found, accounted for only about one-third of the differences in skill in both music and chess. Other determining factors included intelligence or innate ability and the age at which people start the particular activity. 
     The conclusion: practice may not make perfect runs counter to the popular view that just about anyone can achieve greatness if they work hard enough. 

     According to a ScienceDaily article dated 4 July 2011 another bit of research was carried out in France. Researchers published their finding describing the evolution of performances in elite athletes and grandmasters. 
     According to the article their findings suggest that changes in individual performance are linked to physiological laws structuring the living world. In short, they demonstrated a simple relation between changes in performance and the age of individuals.
     The evolution of the performances of an individual throughout his life follows an exponential growth curve to a peak before declining irreversibly, following another negative exponential curve. 
     This peak is reached at the age of 26.1 years for the disciplines studied: athletics (26.0 years), swimming (21.0 years) and chess (31.4 years).  Short version: the study suggests peak at 20-30 years of age, then irreversible decline. 
     Let me get this straight.  It took a "study" to figure out that as you get older your performance falls off?

     Perhaps most amazing of all is that people get paid to to this inutile research! I don't think you have to be a “researcher” to figure that stuff out. Just ask any patzer.

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