Saturday, January 4, 2014

Learning at an older Age

Hello all, I hope everyone is off to a great year so far. It's good to be back and right away I want to address and itching question.

An interesting topic that comes across in chess (or any competitive or skill-based craft) is understanding how improvement and progress REALY works. Everyone knows that time practice and experience are critical and often outweighs most academic theories when competing at the highest of levels.

Lets look at 2 players. Player A started playing chess at the age of 7 years and player B started playing chess at the age of 15. It's in fact, not uncommon that after a few years of practice and experience player A will appear to have an unnatural and talented advantage over player B. This will apply should both players be of same age or either player is older.

Okay, so let's look at this from a personal and human angle, because of course at the end of the day we are all human... although some of us are quite immortal. One must understand people in order to unlock the secret.

Player B will have the advantage of a more mature and holistic look than player A. This is because he presumably has experienced 8 more years of life (more importantly teen years) before he has experienced chess competitively. He has been molded into a sophisticated young man with finer qualities than his counter subject. He knows what's right and what's wrong, what works and what doesn't, and he knows what being punished and being rewarded is all about.

So this, on paper gives player B a massive advantage over player A. Of course there is much more at work than what's happening on one side of this fence. Player A has an often over-looked and while not a more sizable advantage, a much more applicable and effective advantage. Player A has not ruled out the less interesting details of the game. His mind is in the process of exploration and in his earlier years he will absorb information like a sponge until he is molded (often by society) to stop nitpicking and pay attention to the big picture. However, by this time around his teen years he has accumulated an extra few years of garbage that make up his inner moldings. Any criminal or investigator will tell you garbage is far from useless in solving real world problems.

So... we see now from this example, player A, should he devote consistent (even so much as an half-an-hour of unstructured daily training) his advantage is quite literally unfair. There are some things he will not have to think about doing because it's what he's been doing. Any training is just extra that both players will require effort to utilize and ingrain. Not to mention player A will not experience the shock factor of changes because he is used to it. Player B has been burned by real world changes he will need to hesitate and weigh every decision similar to asking a girl out or what to tell his parents about his failed exam.

So all hope is lost correct? Wrong, the solution is in the problem. We need to reverse engineer the situation here.  How do we do that? We need a child-like imagination. We need to spend more time playing for fun laughing and joking with people we care about. We need to experiment and investigate out of curiosity and not out of obligation for improvement. Our goal should be an unrealistic and paradise vision. The academic concepts are important but without any execution they are simply food for thought. Once we do this we will break down some of our moldings (discretionary) and relive our child hood. This will indeed (with some effort and will to let go) not only provide a second chance but a second chance with the benefits of the holistic view.

Never refuse to have fun at what you do. Want to be average at your job? Just go for your paycheck. Want to become better at what you do? Read, youtube, or ask about informational or even humorous stories and try new things in you spare time. Above all learn to have fun!  

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