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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Observational Learning

     A great deal of learning happens indirectly by watching and imitating others; this is known as observational learning.  Observtional learning is defined as the learning of new behavior by watching the actions from someone else who is doing that behavior. It could be desirable or not. It was discovered by educational psychologist Albert Bandura in 1986.
     Observational learning is not the same as imitation of another behavior. Observational learning occurs as a result of witnessing another person, but is performed later and cannot be explained as having been taught in any other way. This type of learning also encompasses the concept of behavior avoidance as a result of seeing another person behave in a certain way and receive a negative consequence. 

There are four stages: 
Attention – the person notices something 
Retention – the person remembers what was noticed 
Production – the person copies what was noticed 
Motivation - the consequences result in probability the behavior will be tried again or discarded depending on the result 

Some examples of observational learning include: 
  • An infant learns to make and understand facial expressions. 
  • A new employee avoids being late to work after seeing a co-worker fired for being late. 
  • A new car salesperson learns how to approach potential customers by watching other salesmen. 
   Bandura and other researchers demonstrated that we are naturally inclined to engage in observational learning and it is a powerful force even from a very young age. In his experiments Bandura demonstrated that young children would imitate the violent and aggressive actions of an adult model and that children were more likely to imitate the adult's violent actions when the adult either received no consequences or when the adult was rewarded for their violent actions. Children who saw film clips in which the adult was punished for aggressive behavior were less likely to repeat the behaviors. Bandura's research raised a number of important questions like, for example, what is the effect on children who see violence in video games, movies and television. 
     Can observational learning be effective in chess? Alex Yermolinsky in The Road to Chess Improvement, and as he demonstrated in his lectures, used his favorite method of teaching and that was, as he said, by example...e.g. through annotated games. For chess players will observational learning by playing over grandmaster games translate into playing better? Possibly, I think. You would be learning pattern recognition, for example. 
     For some articles on the subject of pattern recognition you can check out some of the articles listed HERE.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015


     As I have mentioned previously the Cornstalk Defense is pretty much pointless, but it is a handy move to take opponents out of the book. The tempo that black loses does not mean much in non-master play simply because we non-masters don't know how to go about taking advantage of the freebie.
     In this game white played the opening passively so the tempo I lost with 1...a5 didn't mean much. But, what made this game somewhat interesting was the position after white's 31st move. White, who was completely lost anyway, thought he had a mate. He sent the move, which he had prepared by his previous move, immediately and congratulated me on having played a good game. After I retreated the B to f8 he spent a couple of minutes on his next move so I knew it took him by surprise. 
     What he overlooked was a backward move. Afek and Neiman wrote an interesting book called Invisible Chess Moves in which they stated that frequently uncomplicated wins simply do not enter our minds and even strong GMs suffer from blind spots; sometimes even both players fail to see the opportunity that is right in front of their eyes. 
     They discovered there are reasons why our brain discards certain ideas and one of the chapters is titled Backward Moves. C.J.S. Purdy also once observed that the hardest moves to see are backward moves, especially long ones and N moves. That's because we are trained to look for aggressive moves and such forcing moves usually mean advancing. When it comes to defense, we are usually looking for counterattack and that also usually entails advances. Somehow in our minds retreating or playing backward moves is not an option we even consider. That's what happened to white...he didn't consider the B retreat that defended against the mate.
     Sometimes we fixate on an idea and don't see the obvious. I recently read an article on “design fixation” in which it was pointed out that sometimes your first idea is not the best one. But you might fixate on it especially if the idea has worked before. It might also happen because we are set in our ways, we experience tunnel vision, regurgitate an old idea or are blinded to alternatives. It happens not only to design engineers but it happens to chess players, too.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Chess and the Ukelele

     What do chess and the ukelele have in common? Nothing. But, when you are a chess player long past his prime, assuming he ever had a “prime,” and he gets a ukelele for Christmas, then, when chess gets boring, he learns to play it. So, that's what I'm doing...learning to play the thing which is turning out to be more complicated than I imagined! What with having big thumbs and discombobulated fingers, just learning to strum it is requiring considerable practice. I hope to play this like someday…

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Practical Advice on Open Files From Purdy

     C.J.S. Purdy, an excellent analyst and one of the finest writers on chess ever, in annotating the following game gave some excellent instruction on open files. 
     Cecil Purdy won the first world correspondence championship in 1950-53, but Chessmetrics lists his OTB high rating at a modest 2346 on the June 1980 rating list.  It's hard to say how accurate that rating really is though because Purdy never played in any European tournaments and so Chessmetric's rating is against opponents mostly from Australia and New Zealand. In 1946 Purdy held Tartakower to a draw in a radio match and in 1947 he drew with Harry Golombek, also in a radio match. 
     Purdy's last tournament was the Sydney International held in 1979 where the 73-year old finished in last place (out of 11 players) with +2 –6 =2.  The event ended in a tie between Raymond Keene and Ian Rogers, both of whom dominated the event, scoring an undefeated 7.5-2.5. Purdy passed away shortly after the tournament. 
     Purdy observed that a single open file will often result in a drawish position because the heavy pieces are likely to be exchanged on it which normally leaves a balanced minor piece ending. And, any attempt to win such an ending is likely to involve taking risks. 
     He stated that if you are trying to win, then you have better chances by opening a second file. That's because a 12 Pawn vs. 12 Pawn ending is more likely to create winning chances than a 14 Pawn vs. 14 Pawn ending. He also added that bringing about the second P-exchange necessary to create the second open file without compromising your position can be difficult as seen in this game.
     In this game, as usual, it turns out that analyzing with a strong positionally-oriented engine like Komodo 8 some of Purdy's observations will turn out to be questionable, but that's not important. What's important, unless you are playing engines or world champion caliber players, is ideas. You can use the ideas in your own games to develop a reasonable plan and create winning chances. WGM Natalia Pogonina addresses the subject of open files in more detail on THIS Chessdotcom article.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Bobby Fischer's Wife

     Miyoko Watai, born January 8, 1945 in Tokyo was the Japanese women's champion and the general secretary of the Japan Chess Association. She is a Woman International Master although her FIDE rating is only 2032. Watai, who in addition to being an IM is also an international arbiter, learned how to play chess after graduating from Meiji Pharmaceutical University. A pharmacist by profession, she won the Japan Women's Championship in 1975.
     She had corresponded with Fischer for years and visited him in the U.S. and Hungary and Fischer eventually began living in Watai's home in Tokyo. After Fischer was arrested by Japanese authorities in 2004, Watai was upset because of Fischer's mental anguish and the disruption it caused in their otherwise peaceful life. Watai started trying to free Fischer while seeking support from his fans by setting up The Committee to Free Bobby Fischer. The group also began taking legal action to prevent the Japanese government from deporting Fischer. 
     After Fischer won the World Championship in 1972 she cut out every article about him and began studying his games. When Fischer visited the Japan Chess Association in 1973 to find sponsors for a rematch with Spassky, Watai was selected to give him a quick tour of Tokyo. As a result of this meeting Fischer asked her to visit him in the U.S. on her way to Colombia for the Women's Chess Olympiad in 1974. At that time Fischer was living in Pasadena, California where he was involved in the Church of God. See my post on Fischer's involvement with the church HERE.
     During her visit with Fischer they, along with Fischer's secretary, went out sightseeing and to dinner. They also visited Disneyland and Las Vegas. After that, they began visiting each other and exchanging letters. While Fischer was on the run from the U.S. government Watai also visited him in Hungary. 
     Fischer ended up in Japan trying to promote his chess clock and discovered he liked living there because nobody recognized him and the photographers left him alone. They began living together in Japan in 2000, but it was only after Fischer's arrest in Japan that they decided to get married. Watai tried to obtain a license, but it was rejected because Fischer couldn't submit the required documents from the U.S. embassy. 
     Exactly when they did manage to get legally married is not clear, but after Fischer died in 2008 Watai claimed she was his legal heir and the case began circulating through the Icelandic courts, eventually ending up in the Supreme Court. In addition to Watai, a woman who claimed her daughter was Fischer’s was also involved. Fischer’s body was exhumed and a DNA analysis confirmed that Fischer wasn’t the biological father of the woman's daughter. Also scrambling for a piece of the Fischer pie were his nephews, Alexander and Nicholas Targ. See also Dr. Elisabeth Targ, Fischer's niece.
     Finally, on March 3, 2011, a district court in Iceland ruled that a document submitted by Watai confirmed that she and Fischer were legally married on September 6, 2004 and she was entitled to inherit his estate. His nephews wanted to appeal but it was determined their case was without merit. 
     This game shows a typical game played at the 'Expert' (2000-2199) level. It also shows the state of women's chess when Watai was awarded her IM title...there was a time when it wasn't very high. Back in 1975 when Alla Kushnir, the first woman to compete at Lone Pine, defeated GM Larry Evans in the first round it was news and somewhat of an embarrassment to Evans. These days it would not raise an eyebrow.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Just an Online Game

     My play was never worth two dead flies when it came to tactics. That's probably because I grew up on the games of Botvinnik and my favorite thing to study was books on strategy and K and P or R and P endings. In fact I remember one incident in the State Championship where my Expert opponent broke etiquette when I offered to trade down into a R and P ending. After thinking a couple of minutes, he looked up and muttered, “I'm not going to play a R and P ending against you.” He muddied the waters in a sea of tactics and won. 
     My usual strategy has always been to play carefully to avoid tactics and try to bore opponents to death in positions where nothing much is going on and try to outplay them in the ending.  Often, if they are lower rated, they will present me with a tactical opportunity and I can pounce.  The disadvantage of this strategy is that against stronger opponents the tables are turned...I'm the one that makes a tactical error and am the one getting pounced upon!
     Today when I play Blitz games on line I always try to play tactically. Afterward I look over the games with an engine and usually things are pretty ugly! In the following online G15 I played a risky P-sac in a sort of Wing Gambit Delayed against the Sicilian and things got messy very quickly. Both of us missed a some tactics, but after black made a few less than exact moves, I got the upper hand to the extent that even less than perfect play scored the point. 
     Since this guy was rated over 1800 I wanted to play another game against him, but he turned out to be what I like to call a dirtbag because he disconnected and I was forced to wait a couple of minutes before I could claim the win. I don't understand this behavior because he lost (totally meaningless) rating points anyway. It was really annoying though because my previous opponent, facing a mate in one and having only one legal move, refused to move with over 12 minutes left. I just resigned and moved on to the next game. Hope he enjoyed his 10 point rating gain.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Rare non-Chess Rant

     This is a chess blog and I rarely write anything about non-chess subjects, but the incident involving the Miss Universe Pageant sticks in my craw. 
     Because I am denied 'remote privileges' between the hours of 7pm to 10pm I have to watch what the wife watches on television. Naturally that meant watching the Miss Universe fiasco Sunday night. For those that don't know the details you can read about it HERE
     The whole thing (the Miss Universe Pageant) is pretty insignificant in the over all scheme of things, but it involves big money for everybody involved, so I guess that's what makes it 'important.' But, that's another issue. 
     The host, Steve Harvey, made a real gaffe, but so what? Ever watch professional sports? We see mistaken calls all the time. When they are made, they go through a tedious review which makes the on field referees look bad, but they are corrected and the game goes on. It happens. 
     Anyway I have two observations. First, Steve Harvey manned up and went back out on the stage on live TV and took full responsibility. There may have been extenuating circumstances, but he didn't try to make excuses...he said it was his fault and he took full responsibility. In my book that makes him a big man. 
     I always admired Samuel Reshevsky. Our views on religion were different because I believe Jesus is the Jewish Messiah; he didn't. But when it comes to religion, as Reshevsky said of Fischer, “He has his views. I have mine.” To me the important thing was Reshevsky always put his faith and family first. He had his priorities straight and I admired that and I think it made him a big man.
     The other thing coming out of this whole mess was the way the fluff of Miss Universe got almost all the headlines while the incident that happened outside the hotel was given only passing coverage. A lot of lives were traumatized to a much greater extent than anybody who was involved in the Miss Universe fiasco was, but few seem to give hoot. It just wasn't a money maker for the media.  
    There, I'm done.  The next post will be about chess.

Monday, December 21, 2015

1917 Shipley vs. Janowsky Correspondence Game

     Walter P. Shipley, president of the Franklin Chess Club in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, played a postal game against David Janowsky, who was living in New York City at the time, to test the Gledhill Variation against the French Defense. 
     After the game was played it was thought the game vindicated Shipley's claim that the attack was good despite the fact that Capablanca, after considerable analysis, determined it was inferior. This agreed with Janowsky's assertion that the attack was unsatisfactory for white. As for the belief that this game vindicated Shipley's claim, it was based, as was often the case, on the result. It used to be common practice to praise every move of the winner and criticize all the loser's moves. Things are not often so simple. 
     While visiting New York City Shipley met Janowsky at the Manhattan Chess Club.  When WW1 broke out Janowsky, Champion of France, was in Germany taking part in the Mannheim tournament when he was interned with the Russian masters, but later escaped into Switzerland and finally came to the United States. 
     Shipley and Janowsky were discussing the Gledhill Attack and Janowsky stated the attack was new to him because he considered the French inferior for black and never played it. So, he had never made a serious study of it. They set up the position after the seventh move and Shipley played 8.Qg3 which Janowsky met with 8...Ng6 with the idea of freeing his dark squared B the task of defending the N on f5. Janowsky concluded that black then had the better game, believing white had sacrificed a P for very little compensation. Shipley disagreed.
     At about that time Capablanca showed up and Shipley and Capa played several skittles games with Capa adapting Janowsky's suggest line. Naturally, Capa won and so Shipley believed he was apparently wrong in his judgment of white's chances. But, to more thoroughly test the variation a correspondence game was arranged with Janowsky agreeing to take the black pieces. 
     After his 9th move (9.Ndb5) Shipley believed he had the better game and if Janowsky agreed, the game should be abandoned. Janowsky disagreed and replied, “Relative to your remark that you think you have the better of the game, I do not agree with your position.” Capablanca wrote, I believe that white has a chance, but also black has the best of it, nevertheless.” Shipley admitted that the opinion of these two players was superior to his, but believed that it was always possible that an “offhand opinion given by the best masters may be shaken by thorough analysis.” Although Shipley is listed as playing the white pieces analysis appearing in the American Chess Bulletin makes it clear he was in consultation with other strong Philadelphia players.
     The Gledhill Attack remains pretty much unexplored although a series covering it, Secrets of Opening Surprises, by New in Chess is available. Yorkshire Chess History site has an interesting article about Walter Gledhill HERE

Friday, December 18, 2015

Unpaid for Analysis, Well Known Master Files Lawsuit

     The Bronx (New York) Municipal Court heard a case on April 3rd involving a judge, three lawyers and several prominent chess players. The judge was Michael Scanlon who heard the case Jaffe verses Cassel. Jaffe was represented by attorney Louis Favricant and Cassel by attorneys Harry J. Sonderheim and Martin B. Cohn of the law firm of Alexander, Cohn and Sonderheim. 
     A gaggle of New York chess stars attended the hearing, most of them as witnesses for either Charles Jaffe who was suing for the sum of $700 for work alleged to have been done in analyzing games played in the Rice Gambit Tournament or for Hartwig Cassel of the American Chess Bulletin, who in chess matters, had been acting in a sort of advisory capacity for the deceased Professor Isaac Rice. Cassel denied any responsibility or liability for the activities of Jaffe who, as far as Cassel knew, had done the analysis work without authorization and at his own risk. All this took place in 1916 and $700 had the buying power of a little over $15,000 today. 
     Frank Marshall was called as a witness for Jaffe and after vouching for the latter's reputation as one of the leading players in the US testified that he employed Jaffe as an instructor at his Marshall's Chess Divan.   Marshall gave his opinion that the sum demanded by Jaffe for work of the sort alleged to have been done was not unreasonable. 
     Jaffe then took the witness stand and was examined for nearly an hour. Under questioning by one of Cassel's attorneys he failed to give a satisfactory reason why his name appeared on Marshall's stationery as Champion of New York State since that title was held by Abraham Kupchik since February of 1915. Jaffe was asked to give his estimate of the number of chess players in the court room who were as good as him or better. Jaffe admitted with reluctance that they were either “pretty good” or “fairly good.” He displayed considerable animosity when he stated that one of the players, a former state champion and ex-champion of the Manhattan Chess Club, was “of no value at all” as an authority. While all this questioning had little bearing on the case at hand, it established that Jaffe was not a very good witness on his own behalf. 
     It was established that Cassel, with the consent of Professor Rice, took a group of strong players, including Jaffe, to a State meeting in Utica, New York the previous summer for a tournament to test recent theoretical developments in the Rice Gambit. As things turned out, the tournament was never played, only a consultation game. Cassel, on behalf of Rice, paid the players' expenses and included a small fee. Before the meeting in Utica was over it was agreed that the players involved would continue to investigate the gambit and without making any promises or signing any contract Cassel would do what he could on behalf of the players in case they were successful in proving the gambit to be sound. 

     It appeared from the testimony that after the group returned to New York City Jaffe detached himself from the group and began independent analysis of the gambit. Over a period of time the work of the other five members was submitted to Julius Finn, who, besides Rice who had died in the meantime, was a leading authority on the gambit. 
     Finn had determined the five players' analysis was sound and worthy of publication in a new book to be titled “Twenty Years of the Rice Gambit.”  Jaffe was also permitted to submit his work to Finn who then decided it was not acceptable. 
     Jaffe testified that he spent three months preparing his analysis, working from noon to midnight every day.  In his opinion $700 was a reasonable sum to ask and added that he would not do it again for that amount of money. One piece of evidence presented by Cassel's attorneys was a receipt for $20 signed by Jaffe for playing a few Rice Gambit games against Frank Marshall. In the receipt Jaffe promised not to play any more such games but reserved the right to continue his analytic work with the expectation of being paid if the analysis was accepted for publication. 
     Cassel then testified that he at no time expressly hired Jaffe to do analytical work for him; Jaffe was not able to refute the contention except by his own unsupported testimony. Cassel, when pressed by Jaffe's lawyer, said that such work, if properly done, would have a value of $800-900, but did not specify any one in particular who might be willing to pay that for it. When asked by Judge Scanlon to define the Rice Gambit, Cassel did so by declaring one of the players “gives up a piece for the sake of a winning attack.” 
     Julius Finn, Albert B. Hodges and J. Rosenthal were witnesses for Cassel. Finn was examined at some length and without hesitation said that Jaffe was “not one of the great players of the United States” and that, in his opinion, the work for which Jaffe claimed remuneration had no monetary value, even if found sound, to anybody except Professor Rice. Rosenthal gave a similar testimony and stated there were fifty players in the United States at least as good as Jaffe, 
     Former US Champion Albert Hodges was the last witness and made a favorable impression. Hodges had to help the court stenographer with the spelling of the Jasnogrodsky Defense of the Rice Gambit. 
     Judge Scanlon eventually handed down his decision in favor of Cassel and Jaffe was out $700. 

     Out of curiosity I looked up Jaffe's rating on Chessmetrics and in 1916 the 37-year old Jaffe was rated 2502 which was the highest rating Chessmetrics ever assigned him which at the time placed him at number 17 in the world. No other US player was rated ahead of him that year except Marshall who weighed in at number 4 with a 2676 rating. In light of this it seems Rosenthals' claim that there were 50 players in the US that were better than Jaffe was an exaggeration. 
     This was apparently the first American case where chess matters made it to the courts.  As Wikipedia states, while seemingly frivolous, this case should be viewed from the perspective of Jaffe making much of his living from writing articles on chess for Jewish periodicals, so his professional reputation was at stake. 
      Hartwig Cassel was born in 1850 in West Prussia (now Poland).  He was a chess journalist, editor and promoter in Great Britain and the United States. He arrived in Scotland in 1879 and later moved to Bradford, Yorkshire, where he began his journalistic career as the chess editor of the Observer-Budget. He wrote chess articles for the metropolitan and provincial English papers, organized the Yorkshire County Chess Club, arranged the Joseph Henry Blackburne-Isidor Gunsberg match at Bradford (1887) and the International Chess Masters' Tournament in 1888 at the same city. 
     Cassel left England in 1889 and went to Havana for an English and New York newspaper syndicate to report the Mikhail Tchigorin-Gunsberg match. In 1890 he went to the United States and was offered a job at the New Yorker Staatszeitung. He wrote about chess not only in that paper, but also in the New York Tribune and wrote a special chess column nearly every Sunday for The New York Sun. He was instrumental in establishing the Rice trophies, and arranged, among other important contests, the first cable match between the Manhattan Chess Club and the British Chess Club in 1895, the forerunner of the Anglo-American series. He was the inventor of a chess cable code. In 1904 he and Hermann Helms published the first issue of the American Chess Bulletin. He died in 1929.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Fischer's Worst Tournament Ever

Fischer and Bazan snooze on a train trip in 1960
    In one of the strongest tournaments held that year, Victor Korchnoi, Soviet champion and Samuel Reshevsky tied for first place in the Jubilee tournament in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the revolution for Argentine independence. 

     Laszlo Szabo of Hungary placed third and a quadruple tie for fourth to seventh places among Larry Evans from the United States, Carlos Guimard and Hector Rossetto from Argentina and Mark Taimanov from the USSR rounded out the top finishers. 
     Korchnoi and Reshevsky both struck snags that prevented them from finishing clear first. Reshevsky suffered his only defeat when he lost for the first time to Larry Evans. Korchnoi lost to Hector Rossetto and the last place finisher, Robert Wade. Szabo only lost one game...to Carlos Guimard. 
     Bobby Fischer finished in a disappointing tie for thirteen through sixteen with a score of +3 -5 =11, tying with Ludek Pachman, Bernardo Wexler and Borislav Ivkov. Fischer's first known encounter with a woman, it is believed, was with a prostitute when Larry Evans took him to a whorehouse during the tournament. Rumor has it that Fischer also entertained the ladies in his room at night. It's possible this accounted for his bad result. Fischer's explanation: bad lighting. There also have been rumors floating around for years that Larry Evans often frequented houses of ill repute, but if they're true, it didn't affect his play much though he did lose to Sazbo, Guimard and...Wexler. 
     Besides the players mentioned, Olafsson, Unzicker, Gligoric, Benko, Uhlmann, Eliskases, Bazan and Foguelman were the other participants. 
     Fischer's opponent in this game, Bernardo Wexler (1925–1992), was an Argentine International Master. Born to Jewish parents in Bucharest, Romania, he emigrated to Argentina at the age of seven. His chess career began after World War II. In this game Fischer was almost unrecognizable. 

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.