Sunday, March 24, 2013

Competitive Chess Training Part 11 - Paranoid Discriminate Learning Myth

It always seems like there is something that many amateurs learn and devote so much time into that it overwhelms their fundamentals of learning. Ironically, more often than not the culprit is a fundamental motif itself. The response to this epidemic always result into something I like to refer as Paranoid discriminate learning (PDL).

PDL is the fear of learning a concept due to indirect evidence that over focus will stun a player's growth. In chess, the biggest target PDL among amateurs is opening. Okay... to set things straight, openings are not the be-all end-all of chess. Many new players to the game will in-fact find themselves studying exclusively openings. Yes, I can agree that this does stun a players growth to only the first few moves of the game only to domino in a series of untrained blunders where the real game-play actually occurs.

Despite this, your amateurs who're often rather outspoken and somewhat experience will tell young players all together... "don't bother learning openings, spend time understanding the fundamentals". So here's what's wrong. Openings are indeed fundamentals. No, openings will not secure a victory. On the other hand  lack of proper opening can make victories unnecessarily difficult. In higher levels of play I will argue a lack of basic opening can ensure a loss as a permanent weakness can be created and exploited within the first few moves of the game if a player is aware of it.

So, what about non-chessic activities? Generally speaking, PDL revolves around tools, or optional extensions designed to make life easier. In shooting games, it's your weapons. Fighting games, it's match-up information. In programming, it's your libraries. etc...

In the end, I believe all top players or professionals are aware of this information to their respective field. They may not exploit the benefits or disadvantages but they are familiar. Don't become a victim of  PDL. I have beaten a few skilled middlegame players due to their lack of opening knowlege. It's a good feeling... trust me.

Big Fish Games

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