Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Any Achiever has to beat the odds. Part 1.

Najib has written a thought provoking piece. Here.

Let me give my take on this. The argument presented is the standard one I have been hearing since we started chess. The first thing I want to say is that Anand was probably talking about being World Champion when he talked about being a GM by 15 yo. There is plenty of evidence of GM's later in life.

Let me now talk about the relative merit of chess. As a parent I too am concerned for the well being of my son. But I had a life changing experience post 1997 that made me question some of our basic assumptions. What is the real value of an education today? I was fortunate to have an education in the UK. But this gave me no guarantees in life. In todays business climate you can be retrenched in a blink of an eye.

So I looked back to my mentors. My last surviving mentor is Mr Yan of Syuen. He was perhaps the best thinker I have met in all my life. And he was only educated to Standard 6. But he had loads of graduates who worked under him. I wondered for years how he could see issues so clearly when all the better educated people around him were still muddled. I realised much later when I rediscovered chess that his thinking was akin to the thinking of a GM. He considered without fear. His mind was crystal clear. Consider this. He was a tailor by profession. Yet he became a developer and contractor. One of the largest multinational company in the North at that time. He told me once. Learn to judge people. That is the key. He was the general in the chess game. He was not a technicalist. He just employed them.

Healthy competition in chess can also teach us that.


  1. Mark Twain said "I never let schooling interfere with my education".

    As such, we must never confuse between the two. Just because Mr Yan did not continue schooling after Standard 6, it did not mean that he stopped his education.

    Same goes with you or any other person. Where you go to school probably matters less than what you actually learn.

  2. Agreed. Note his advice. Learn to judge people. That is the crux. To learn to judge people well, you must first see yourself clearly otherwise all your judgements will be tainted by your own bias. Read the inner child, an article I wrote by the side of this blog.

  3. Another way of looking at this is learn to learn first. Then learn to teach.