Monday, January 18, 2010

Monday Morning Musings

Had an interesting conversation with a brave soul this morning. This is the gist. Good thinking involves risk. It involves judgement. It requires you to join the dots. (Have you ever met someone who gives you contradictory answers? Someone who hedges?)

Good thinking is born of confidence, of tested judgement. The more times you make the right judgement, the more confident you get. If we keep getting it wrong (say for 40 years) our confidence could be affected?

We are not born with the ability to think correctly, it must be taught. Thinking is not merely pumping in information. I have alluded that fear and anxiety affects thinking. And increased pressure brings out more fears.

Have we as the chess community identified the characteristics of a GM? If we haven't, can we produce one? Is it only about throwing money at the problem? If it was wouldnt we already have a GM? Haven't enough money been invested? Dato Tan alone has already put in RM 10 million by his own estimate. Will pumping in another RM 10 million get us better results?

So, sounds silly I know... But can we use the lessons of chess to help us find that first GM? If our thinking is not right, the results show on the board. If our thinking is not right then no GM is born.

Good morning.


  1. I like the way you’ve phrased it: “thinking is not just pumping in information”. I could not agree with you more. I had an interesting discussion with my eldest son about the difficulties he has in maths. Since he does play chess too, I reminded him that when he played chess, he learnt how to think under time pressure. And he was able to do that because it was seen in the outcome i.e. whenever he won a difficult game. Similarly in maths, I told him that he must do the same. Must not panic when he comes across a difficult problem but to try and stay calm and in this way he should be able to “see” how to tackle the question and solve the problem. If you let fear overtake you then you’ve already lost the battle before you even go to war. Because he plays chess, he understood the analogy between chess and maths.

    I agree with you that chess is one of the best tools to help teach our children to think.

  2. Well put Adzlin, I use chess analogies all the time to explain other concepts. The fact is not all chess players will want to become a GM. But everyone can learn from chess, particularly if they have played tournaments. It's like a microcosm of life. There are some amazing lessons there.