He points out that there are many chess masters who have practiced much less than the Polgar sisters but are better than they are.
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Their mother and father were both well-educated teachers interested in stuff like developmental psychology.
They had every possible biological advantage and I’m sure that helped.
We would expect them to need much more practice to achieve a level of proficiency similar to those chess masters, and indeed that seems like what happens.
(all of this is confounded by them being women and almost all the other equally-good chess masters being men.
I don’t know if the case he’s arguing against – that practice is literally everything and it’s impossible for anything else to factor in – is a straw man or not.
But it seems more important to consider a less silly argument – that practice is one of many factors, and that enough of it can make up for a lack of the others. This study showing that amount of practice only explains 12% of the variance in skill level at various tasks, and is often summarized as “practice doesn’t matter much”.
I still think arguing about this is unnecessary thanks to the points below.] On the other hand, I’m not sure Levitt’s right.
Chess champion Gary Kasparov actually sat and took an IQ test for the magazine Der Spiegel, and his IQ was 135.
That’s not bad – it’s top 1% of the population – but it’s not amazing either.
This is what we should expect given the correlation of about r = 0.24 between IQ and chess ability (see also this analysis, although I disagree with the details).
Also they spoke seven languages, including Esperanto.