Why are GMs so good?

That study has been cited so many times. It contains a lot of falsehoods and half truths. I'll list a few.

  1. when presented with random boards, GM's perform better than chess novices. just not by as much as they do when presented with more standard positions.

  2. chess masters do possess slightly better, on average, general memories than the general population. either because, since memory is such a huge component of chess skill, they were more drawn to chess because of having a good memory, or because in the process of memorizing/learning so much chess, their general memory skills were improved as well. This last one could easily occur. It could be as simple as having so much chess stored in your brain that the rest of the world's information can be indexed in your "chess-structured" brain. I memorized 5000 digits of pi when I was a kid. Since then, whenever I've needed to memorize a number for any reason, I found it easy because it would always be similar to some substring of pi. Words/Names? Same deal. Something about certain letters feel like certain numbers and as such, they tend to fall into the same memoric holes.

I don't dispute that being able to identify a chess structure is one of the most important facets of overall chess skill.

Nor do I dispute that massive exposure to these by playing/studying/watching/immersing will improve ones ability to identify chess structures.

I do dispute that there is no correlation between strong player's general memory skills and a weak player's.

This is nothing but pandering. People want to feel comfortable and drag the elite down to their level, convincing themselves they, too, could be equally or almost as great if they simply put in the effort. This is ego and nothing more. The truth is that if you aren't born with a genetically gifted memory, your chances of being a GM with the same work as someone who is born with a gifted memory are nonexistent. You will have to work much harder. And in the end, if the GM is a consistent student of chess, you will never reach his level.

(further compounded by people underestimating the value and effort involved in the work it takes to excel at something. I posit that if the only difference between you and what you wish you could be is a tremendous amount of effort, then it's not just the effort. You lack the ability to put in that effort. You don't simply chose not to. You can't. And that is a genetic factor as well.)

/r/chess Thread