January 2, 2021•400 words
Chess is cool. I like the game, like to watch it, like to read about it... but I hate playing it. I just don't enjoy it, and that's probably because I suck at it.
I've read the first few chapters (so far) of David Epstein's Range, and it's been helpful in understanding chess as it is. Epstein explains that there are two types of learning environments, as theorized by psychologists Gary Klein and Daniel Kahneman: "Kind" environments and "Wicked" learning environments. The distinction between the two lies in their relationships with experience and expertise; kind learning environments are highly repetitive, with fast, accurate feedback and clear and consistent rules, whereas wicked environments are much less simple. They may not have complete or obvious rules, with patterns that may not be obvious (if they exist) and feedback that may be delayed or misleading (again, if it exists). In essence, kind learning environments are, well, kind to the learner and allow for continued improvement simply through practice. Wicked learning environments are the opposite, as you might assume.
I bring this up because chess is one of the most obvious and perfect examples of a kind learning environments. It's 98% tactics and patterns - the starting conditions are always the same, each piece serves the same function, and feedback is clear and obvious when you do something wrong (or right, for that matter). Therefore, chess is a game of (pretty much) pure practice, with the winner being decided by the person with the most experience playing it.
I am not sure if I have played a single game of it in my life. The miniscule abilities that I have in the game come from watching it, and maybe a few thought patterns that translate from other games. Otherwise, I am devoid of chess skills.
I also don't like losing, so combining that with being awful at the game ensures that I will ahve a hard time getting started with chess. The friends that I have either don't play chess or are very good at it and would utterly destroy me. They offer to play me blindfolded but I don't know if that would even be enough to equal the field, and I don't think my ego could take a loss to a blindfolded opponent. This post has pretty much been a rant about being shit at chess, so further research/thought is not required.