Can You Handle the Truth?

Yesterday Mike Murray started a new thread in the “All Things Chess” section of the USCF Forum. The title of his thread is a question, “Does chess develop transferable skills ?” (http://www.uschess.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=21185&sid=fc8aa899349128eec2cc1414646786be) Mike begins his post answering the question by writing, “Evidently, not so much.” He then quotes from this blog by copying something I copied verbatim:

“…recent research into expertise has clearly indicated that, the higher the level of expertise in a domain, the more limited the transfer [of skills to other fields] will be… Moreover, reaching a high level of skill in domains such as chess, music or mathematics requires large amounts of practice to acquire the domain specific knowledge which determines expert performance. Inevitably, the time spent in developing such skills will impair the acquisition of other skills.”

Mr. Murray then gives a link to my post, and adds a link with which I was unfamiliar:
“see also” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4126200/

I would like to express my thanks to Mike Murray for drawing my attention to this paper.

Before deciding to write about what is currently known in regard to the question of whether or not chess is beneficial for children I took the time to read several papers pertaining to what has been learned by those who study these types of questions. These are the papers:

Facing facts about deliberate practice

David Z. Hambrick1*, Erik M. Altmann1, Frederick L. Oswald2, Elizabeth J. Meinz3 and Fernand Gobet4
1 Department of Psychology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA
2 Department ofPsychology, Rice University, Houston, TX, USA
3 Department of Psychology, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Edwardsville, IL, USA
4 InstituteofPsychology, Health, and Society, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK
*Correspondence: hambric3@msu.edu
Editedby:
Michael H. Connors, Macquarie University, Australia
Reviewed by:
Lena Rachel Quinto, Macquarie University, Australia
Michael H. Connors, Macquarie University, Australia

The Role of Domain-Specific Practice, Handedness, and Starting Age in Chess

Fernand Gobet and Guillermo Campitelli
Brunel University

The genetics of music accomplishment: Evidence for gene–environment correlation and interaction

David Z. Hambrick & Elliot M. Tucker-Drob

Accounting for expert performance: The devil is in the details

David Z. Hambrick a,⁎, Erik M. Altmann a, Frederick L. Oswald b, Elizabeth J. Meinz c, Fernand Gobet d, Guillermo Campitelli e
a Department of Psychology, Michigan State University, United States
b Department of Psychology, Rice University, United States
c Department of Psychology, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, United States
d Institute of Psychology, Health, and Society, University of Liverpool, United Kingdom
e School of Psychology and Social Science, Edith Cowan University, Australia

Does high-level intellectual performance depend on practice alone? Debunking the Polgar sisters case

Robert W. Howard∗
School of Education, University of New South Wales, Sydney 2052, Australia

Longitudinal Effects of Different Types of Practice on the Development of Chess Expertise

ROBERT W. HOWARD*
University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Deliberate Practice and Performance in Music, Games, Sports, Education, and Professions: A Meta-Analysis

Psychological Science published online 1 July 2014
Brooke N. Macnamara, David Z. Hambrick and Frederick L. Oswald
DOI: 10.1177/0956797614535810

Intelligence and chess

Fernand Gobet, & Guillermo Campitelli

Educational benefits of chess instruction: A critical review

Fernand Gobet & Guillermo Campitelli
University of Nottingham

What put me on this path was the flap over what Malcolm Gladwell wrote in his book. “In Gladwell’s bestselling “Outliers” he discusses the “10,000-hour rule”: If you practice the necessary 10,000 hours you can reach the zenith of your field.” (http://www.salon.com/2014/07/15/is_malcolm_gladwell_wrong_scientists_debate_the_10000_hour_rule/)

In the same article Zach answers, “We found that, yes, practice is important, and of course it’s absolutely necessary to achieve expertise,” Hambrick told the Times. “But it’s not as important as many people have been saying.”

The article, Is Malcolm Gladwell wrong? Scientists debate the “10,000-hour rule: The argument between talent versus practices deepens with the release of a new study, by Sarah Gray, Tuesday, July 15, 2014. This particular article begins:

“A new study, published in the journal Psychological Science, is fueling the practice-versus-talent debate. The study was co-authored by Zach Hambrick, of Michigan State University, Brooke Macnamara, who is currently at Case Western Reserve University, and Rice University’s Frederick Oswald. According to the New York Times, this study is the “most comprehensive review of relevant research to date.”

“The paper, which looked at 88 different studies, covering a wide range of activities, from chess to music to sports, found that only 20 to 25 percent of a person’s ability — in music, sports and chess — came from practice. In academics, the Times reports, it is even lower; only 4 percent of a person’s academic ability came from practice. However, the authors note that academic skill was more difficult to measure, because it was tough to gauge how much people knew beforehand.”

The book by Malcolm Gladwell was a best-seller and the author, no doubt, made much money. Unfortunately for him, his theory has been refuted. Even so, their are many people who have not gotten the word. For example, I was sitting at a table in a Barnes & Noble with a chess board in front of me while reading a copy of the best chess magazine in the world, New In Chess, when an older fellow walked up and asked, “Putting in your 10,000 hours?” I asked if he were referring to Gladwell’s book and he answered in the affirmative. As he took a seat I told him Gladwell’s theory had been refuted. Having read the book, he was in disbelief. “The man would not have written the book if it were not true,” he said. Nothing I said could disabuse him of his belief. Fortunately, someone whom he knew arrived and he took his leave, but not before telling his friend that I was a “party pooper.” I have been called far worse…

This kind of thing happens all the time in our society. An example would be what the Bushwhackers said happened to Private First Class Jessica Dawn Lynch during the invasion of Iraq. Initial reports by the Bushwhackers said that before being captured and brutalized, PFC Lynch, in her best Rambo imitation, fired all the rounds in her weapon until the weapon was so hot it burned her hands, but still she continued, in great pain, to hold onto the weapon, using it to club Iraqi soldiers until there were so many of them she could no longer swing said weapon…or some such. I will admit to paraphrasing here, but you get the idea. The truth came out later, and I quote, “Initial official reports on Lynch’s capture and rescue in Iraq were incorrect. On April 24, 2007, she testified in front of Congress that she had never fired her weapon, her M16 rifle jammed, and that she had been knocked unconscious when her vehicle crashed. Lynch has been outspoken in her criticism of the original stories reported regarding her combat experience. When asked about her heroine status, she stated “That wasn’t me. I’m not about to take credit for something I didn’t do… I’m just a survivor.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jessica_Lynch#Further_reading) See The authorized biography, I Am A Soldier Too: The Jessica Lynch Story, by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Rick Bragg.” See also, “The truth about Jessica.” (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2003/may/15/iraq.usa2) People can still be found who will tell you all about the brave woman during the invasion of Iraq who made Rambo look like a wuss…

The lies the Bushwhackers told about former NFL star Pat Tillman are even more egregious, and the truth still has not been told to WE THE PEOPLE. I do not mean to single out the Bushwhackers. “Presidential aide Arthur Schlesinger has written that President Kennedy said just days before the assassination that Johnson was a man “incapable of telling the truth.” (See Robert F. Kennedy and His Times, page 655. I have taken this from the masterful work by Douglas P. Horne, Chief Analyst for Military Records, Assassination Records Review Board, “Inside the Assassination Records Review Board: The U.S. Government’s Final Attempt to Reconcile the Conflicting Medical Evidence in the Assassination of JFK – Volume 5.”)

Another example would be the prosecutor who, while the defandant is on the stand, looks the jury in the eye and says, “The defendant is obviously a scurrilous scumbag!” The public defender then leaps to his feet saying, “Your Honor, I most strenuously object.” At which time the judge says to the prosecutor, “The objection is sustained. Mr. Prosecutor. I cannot believe a man with your credentials would would say such a thing.” To which the prosecutor says, “Yes Your Honor. Forgive me. It will not happen again.” The judge then say, “That last remark will be stricken from the record and the jury will disregard the comment made by the esteemed prosecutor.”
When the trial ends and the jury is marched into chambers to decide the fate of the accused, the only question to be decided is which one will be chosen foreman. Once a foreman is chosen he will say, “Do we really need to spend any time voting? It is more than a little obvious the defendant is a scurrilous scumbag.”
Someone will mention the judge said to disregard the remark and will be turned on by the rest of the pack while the foreman says forcefully, “What the hell do you mean? The ESTEEMED prosecutor said the defendant was a scurrilous scumbag, and he would not have said it if it were not true!” Meanwhile the rest of the pack will nod in agreement, saying, “Uh huh, uh huh, right on, right on, right on.” The poor defendant will be lucky to have a show of hands before being declared guilty.

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Will Confusion Be Our Epitaph

In his post Confusion about Facts dated 15 February 2015, Mark Weeks writes, “Despite some confusion about facts that I happen to know something about, i.e,

‘first played in Afghanistan back in 600 AD’ • ‘Dr. Robert Ferguson (a cardiologist at the Northeast Georgia Diagnostics Clinic)’; • ‘Grandmaster Chess Research Project […] collaborative effort between Israel’s University of Haifa and Grandmaster Boris Delfand’, (sic)…”

Mark provides a link to an article, Does Playing Chess Make You Smarter? on the Examined Existance website (http://examinedexistence.com/does-playing-chess-make-you-smarter/), where one finds this:

Chess sharpens critical thinking skills.

“In his 1995 study titled Chess in Education: Research Summary, Dr. Robert Ferguson (a cardiologist at the Northeast Georgia Diagnostics Clinic) had established that chess is instrumental in the enhancement of a child’s critical thinking and good judgment skills. Ferguson’s subjects, who were seventh to ninth graders, yielded a 17% improvement in the results.”

A picture of Dr. Ferguson’s is prominently displayed on the home page of the NGDC. (http://www.ngdc.com/) His study, which took place from 1979-1983, is featured in any discussion relating to chess “improving” the intelligence of children. The problem is that it has been discredited.

Unfortunately, this kind of thing happens all the time. A newspaper prints an attention grabbing headline about something negative about a person on the front page, then places a retraction on a page in the rear of the next day’s paper which hardly anyone reads. Time passes and the only thing left in the memory is the headline. The mistake is rarely acknowledged, unless it is as egregious as was the mistake made by former chess GM Kenneth Rogoff. See: “The Rogoff-Reinhart data scandal reminds us economists aren’t gods,” by Heidi Moore (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/apr/18/rogoff-reinhart-deficit-research-false); “Reinhart, Rogoff… and Herndon: The student who caught out the profs,” By Ruth Alexander, BBC News (http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-22223190); “The Reinhart and Rogoff Controversy: A Summing Up,” (http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/the-reinhart-and-rogoff-controversy-a-summing-up); “Ken Rogoff, Author Of Discredited Austerity Research, Angrily Blasts Keynesians,” by
Mark Gongloff…This one begins, “Kenneth Rogoff is mad as hell, and he’s not going to take it any more.” Unfortunately for the former GM, he has had to continue to take it…(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/23/ken-rogoff-keynesians_n_3325865.html?); “How the Case for Austerity Has Crumbled,” by Paul Krugman (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/jun/06/how-case-austerity-has-crumbled/); “Republicans’ Favorite National-Debt Researchers Are Now Even More Discredited,” By Danny Vinik (http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116664/imf-study-futher-discredits-reinhart-rogoff-debt-study-austerity). There is much more and it can be found using any search engine by typing in, “Ken Rogoff discredited,” but this will suffice for now because I do not wish to make the former chess GM any madder than he already seems to be…

In the paper Educational benefits of chess instruction: A critical review, Fernand Gobet and Guillermo Campitelli write:

3.2.4.1 Teaching the fourth “R” (Reasoning) through chess; (Ferguson,
undated-b)7
(7 This study is referred to as “Developing critical and creative thinking through chess” in Ferguson
(undated-a).

“This project, which took place from 1979 to 1983, aimed at providing
stimulating experiences fostering the development of critical and creative thinking.
Participants were gifted students (with an IQ equal to or higher than 130) in grades 7
through 9, in the Bradford (PA) area school district. They chose among a variety of
special activities such as chess, dungeons and dragons, Olympics of mind, problem
solving with computers, creative writing, and independent study. Each group met
once a week for 32 weeks.
Participants were tested with alternate forms of the Watson-Glaser Critical
Thinking Appraisal test (CTA) and of the Torrance test of creative thinking, both at
the beginning and at the end of the year. Results for the CTA showed that the chess
group significantly outperformed the non-chess groups (p < .001), the computer group
(p < .003), and the non-participants (p < .025). With the Torrance test of creative
thinking, the chess group showed statistically significant improvement in “fluency,”
“flexibility” and “originality” when they were compared to the population norms and
the non-chess groups. There was also a significant difference in “fluency” and “originality” (but not in “flexibility”) for the chess group compared to the computer
group.
Ferguson used a pretest and posttest design and used more than one control
group, each carrying out activities other than chess. However, this study has an
important weakness that rules out any interpretation of the results in terms of the
contribution of chess training to critical thinking and creativity: students switched
activities either quarterly or semi-annually, and chess players participated in other
activities as well. Therefore, we do not know whether the improvement is due to chess
treatment or to the other treatments. Another limitation of this study is that it
investigated a gifted population; hence, the claims cannot be generalized to the entire
population of school students. Finally, the sample was rather small (15 students in
the school chess club)."

As a baseball Sabermetrician I know all about a small sample size; it is worthless. In the fifth game of the 1969 MLB season Don Bosch, from San Francisco, playing for the expansion Montreal Expos in their very first season, went 4 for 5, leaving his batting average for the young season a robust .571! Don had played for the Asheville Tourists in the AA Southern League in 1964 & 65, then with Columbus and Jacksonville in the AAA International League from 1966-68, and he was called one of the very best center fielders to have ever worn a glove. His problem was his hitting ability did not measure up to his defensive ability. Don had 121 plate appearances in 1969 and hit .179, which happened to be his highest batting average of any MLB season. He ended his career way below the Mendoza line at a robust without the "ro" of .164 in 346 PA's.

It pains me to have to write this about my fellow Georgian, who has, no doubt, done great things in his long life, but honesty compels me to acknowledge citing his study does a disservice to chess. To quote a discredited study, such as this, is dishonest. People do this all the time. For example, the Bushwhackers quoted bogus documents that "… seem to depict an attempt made by Saddam Hussein in Iraq to purchase yellowcake uranium powder from Niger during the Iraq disarmament crisis." (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niger_uranium_forgeries#Wilson_and_Plame) The Bushwhackers did this while knowing what they were saying was a lie because, "Retired ambassador Joseph C. Wilson wrote a critical op-ed in The New York Times in which he explained the nature of the documents and the government's prior knowledge of their unreliability for use in a case for war. Shortly after Wilson's op-ed, in a column by Robert Novak, in pondering why a State Dept employee was dispatched rather than a trained CIA agent, the identity of Wilson's wife, CIA analyst Valerie Plame, was revealed. The Senate Intelligence Committee report and other sources confirm that Plame "offered his name up" to her superiors." (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niger_uranium_forgeries#Wilson_and_Plame)
They tried to discredit Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson by outing his wife, which is a violation of Federal law, and still, no one has been prosecuted. This was despicable! Any man who would do such a thing is NOT MUCH OF A MAN!

If the chess community is going to tell parents the game of chess will increase the intelligence of their child, the least we can do is to be honest about the facts.

Chess and War

GM Lubomir Kavalek has written one of the most powerful articles ever written, “Chess in the Time of War.” The original article can be found at the Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lubomir-kavalek/chess-in-the-time-of-war_b_5702082.html) It can also be found at Chessbase, (http://en.chessbase.com/post/huffington-chess-in-the-time-of-war). I urge everyone to read Grandmaster Kavalek’s article, and ask others to do the same.

Chess is not played in a vacuum; t takes place on the stage of the world. The “chess moves” of powerful world leaders affect not only players of the Royal game, but often everyone in the world, as was the case when the mentally deranged Adolf Hitler led the world into what is now known as “World War II,” when Germany invaded Poland on false pretense. George Dubya did the same when the Bushwhackers invaded Iraq ostensibly looking for “weapons of mass destruction.” Then Dubya the Dummy made fun of We The People, and played US for chumps when, “During the annual Radio and Television Correspondents Dinner this week, Bush presented a slide show of quirky photographs from inside the White House. In one, the president is looking under furniture in the Oval Office.”

“Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere,” Bush joked. “Nope, no weapons over there … maybe under here?” (http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/03/26/bush.wmd.jokes/)

This has to be seen to be believed, and with modern technology, it can be seen right here. See below…

GM Kavalek writes this about Soviet GM Vladimir Simagin, “A few moments earlier, she met Vladimir Simagin pacing back and forth in the lobby of the Polish hotel in Polanica Zdroj, repeating:”Stupid people, stupid people, stupid people….” The Moscow grandmaster explained to her that Soviet tanks crossed into Czechoslovakia overnight. It was August 21, 1968. “The night would not be short,” predicted the Czech poet Karel Kryl in one of his songs.”

I remember it well because that day, August 21, 1968, was my eighteenth birthday. On that day I became eligible to be drafted, and the leaders of my country, whom I think of as Fools In Power (F.I.P.’s), were sending young men to die needlessly in the rice paddies of Viet Nam in what can only be described as internecine warfare. The “Ruskies”, as they were called, sending tanks into another country only increased the chances that I would be called upon to “gear up” to fight in yet another World War, possibly the last such war. What these F.I.P.’s decide has an effect on people individually, as can be seen by what GM Kavalek next writes about the peace loving Simagin.

“As fate would have it, I played Simagin in the penultimate round and I knew that the man across the board disagreed with the Soviet occupation. He was a chess philosopher believing that violence has no place in our lives and it is best to leave it on the chessboard. We played nervously, exchanged a lot of pieces until we were left only with my rook against his knight. We sensed that in an absurd, symbolic way the single rook was fighting against thousands of Soviet tanks. Eventually, we agreed to a draw, but the invasion broke his heart. Simagin died of a heart attack during the tournament in Kislovodsk on September 25, 1968 at the age of 49.”

Vladimir Putin is obviously a F.I.P. He recently divorced his wife and decided to encroach upon the people of another country. The man is obviously a megalomaniac who is using the Royal game to serve his nefarious purposes. As an example there is this, from the article, “FIDE today: Against dictatorship and empire,” by Peter Long (http://www.themalaymailonline.com/what-you-think/article/fide-today-against-dictatorship-and-empire-peter-long#sthash.j7jZrQY4.dpuf).

“For months, Ilyumzhinov had shamelessly used FIDE resources to campaign and go around the world, but by the time August came around and the campaign moved to Tromso, it had become clear that the cause was all but lost as a well-funded professionally-run team had no chance in a world where Russia had thrown its considerable diplomatic muscle behind their Russian colleague and together with other incumbents were prepared to ignore all decorum and rules.
A case in point was Asia where Team Kasparov had 28 sure votes and was looking to reach 32, a huge win with 48 at stake. But with Russian intervention, Mongolia, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar were lost through a combination of proxies being taken or delegates replaced!

Then the incumbent Asia President, Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifah Al Nahyan from UAE adopted similar tactics as well as considerable largesse to ensure a united Arab vote and naturally India and the majority of that sub-continent also fell in line, again with liberal taking of proxies and change of delegates, some like Afghanistan even having its Federation administratively removed.

Closer home and very sadly and shamefully, Malaysia went back on its promise, Tan Sri Ramli Ngah Talib sacrificed his own Deputy President and Secretary by going back on supporting him in a position on the Asia ticket and Indonesia’s vote was even stolen, its delegate showing up in vain at the ballot box.

While Africa rose as promised, only beaten 20-22 through use of proxies, it was the same continued whitewash in Latin America and the Caribbean where so many delegates are existing FIDE officials despite not living or enjoying citizenship of the countries they represent. And Europe, which traditionally threw its weight against dictatorship, showed that they were tired of always being on the losing side.”

If it is true that the pen is mightier than the sword, then GM Kavalek strikes a mighty blow with these words, “In December 1991 the Soviet Union collapsed and ceased to exist. It was split into many countries, and that didn’t go over well with Vladimir Putin. As soon as he came to power, he plotted how to get back the Soviet territories. And this led to the current situation. Russia is at war again. The armor and the little green men Vladimir Putin sent to Ukraine this year to annex Crimea and to carve up the mainland were also without Russian insignias.

Russian tanks tend to invade at night as if ashamed to be seen. Their favorite time for invasions seems to be August (Czechoslovakia 1968, Georgia 2008, Ukraine 2014) or during the Olympic Games (Georgia 2008, Ukraine 2014) when the world is distracted. They come under the pretense of “brotherly” or “humanitarian” help. They even use chess strategies in their action: the principle of two weaknesses – creating threats in two separate places – is applied in the Ukraine as we speak.

Putin helped Kirsan Ilyumzhinov to win the FIDE presidential campaign. They announced together that the next world championship match between Magnus Carlsen and Vishy Anand will take place in November in Sochi. Carlsen, now playing the Sinquefield Cup, has till Sunday to accept, although the conditions of the match are far from clear. FIDE already shaved one million dollars off the previous match budget.

Ilyumzhinov is staging other major events in the former Soviet territories. The Chess Olympiad in 2016 will be in Baku, Azerbaijan and in 2018 in Batumi, Georgia. Grand Prix tournaments – important qualification events for the world championship – are scheduled for Moscow, Baku and Tashkent, Uzbekistan. There is also another one in Tehran, Iran, but it is hard to imagine the American Hikaru Nakamura playing there. Or for that matter the Armenian Levon Aronjan playing in Baku. And some of the events will be played while Putin is aiming his guns at Ukraine.”

Rootin’ Tootin’ Putin was best described by NY Times op-ed columnist David Brooks in his September 1, 2014 column titled, “The Revolt of the Weak.” “What we’re seeing around the world is a revolt of the weak. There are certain weak movements and nations, beset by internal contradictions, that can’t compete if they play by the normal rules of civilization. Therefore, they are conspiring to blow up the rule book.

The first example is Russia. Putin is poor in legitimacy. He is poor in his ability to deliver goods and dignity for his people. But he is rich in brazenness. He is rich in his ability to play by the lawlessness of the jungle, so he wants the whole world to operate by jungle rules.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/02/opinion/david-brooks-the-revolt-of-the-weak.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&_r=0)

The world would have been a better place if Adolf Hitler had been stopped before coming to power. That is not possible with Putin because he is in power. But he still can, and should, be stopped, by any means necessary.

Bush laughs at no WMD in Iraq

THE GUESS WHO-“LAUGHING”