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Dev Psychol. 2007 Jan;43(1):159-72.

The role of domain-specific practice, handedness, and starting age in chess.

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  • 1Centre for the Study of Expertise and Centre for Cognition and Neuroimaging, Brunel University, Uxbridge, MDX, United Kingdom. fernand.gobet@brunel.ac.uk

Abstract

The respective roles of the environment and innate talent have been a recurrent question for research into expertise. The authors investigated markers of talent, environment, and critical period for the acquisition of expert performance in chess. Argentinian chess players (N = 104), ranging from weak amateurs to grandmasters, completed a questionnaire measuring variables including individual and group practice, starting age, and handedness. The study reaffirms the importance of practice for reaching high levels of performance, but it also indicates a large variability: The slower player needed 8 times as much practice to reach master level than the faster player. Additional results show a correlation between skill and starting age and indicate that players are more likely to be mixed-handed than individuals in the general population; however, there was no correlation between handedness and skill within the sample of chess players. Together, these results suggest that practice is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the acquisition of expertise, that some additional factors may differentiate chessplayers and nonchessplayers, and that starting age of practice is important.

Copyright 2006 APA, all rights reserved.

PMID:
17201516
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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