Thursday, June 26, 2008

2nd IM Norm for Elliot Liu

Elliot just scored his second IM norm today at the New England Masters. He passed the IM mark by a full point and was only a half point shy of a GM norm. Will get some of his games from the tournament and maybe jointly annotate them.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Why Grandmasters think differently about chess

Every serious player wonders now and then what exactly sets GMs apart from the rest of the pack. Is it nature, or nurture? Can any child learn to excel at chess, or not? I recently read a research article performed by a former chessplayer (I assume a FIDE master, but non-GM), that studied the brains of GMs and non-GMs. He used a technique called magnetoencephaolgraphy, and found that GMs relied on certain areas of the brain much more than the average player, at about a 4/1 ratio for the two areas of the brain. When the researcher tested his own brain, the ratio was 1/1. He always wondered why he could never make it to the GM level, and this may very well be why. Of course, this does not prove that genetics determine chess ability, but it is an interesting finding in itself. The region that GMs use more (theoretically) is for storing "chunks" of information; in other words, when that part of their brain lit up, they were retrieving the information, probably chunks of strategies or patterns they had previously learned. The researcher, Dr. Amidzic, is now testing young tennis players to see if there are differences between the top vs. average players in other sports as well.