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Subject: Why are Americans so bad at chess? rss

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Christopher KrackerJack
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Probably for the same reason the US has no top ranked soccer (football) players: It's not part of our cultural makeup.

Chess is not a game that Americans strive to master, even though there is wide popularity at low levels of play(both age and ability). Just like soccer. Why those two activities didn't get culturally assimilated is anyone's guess.
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Paul DeStefano
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General lack of interest.

Its cultural.

You are brought up where chess is nerdy and geeky, and people do not spend the time studying it.

Why are Jamaicans so bad at slalom?

Simply not being in an environment that promotes a certain activity will see that activity continue to shrink.
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Thomas Eastside, Esq.
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The USA comprises about 4.5% of the world population. So, it seems we're right on target. The better question is why do some countries dominate, and the answer is alluded to in the above posts. Infrastructure.
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Jeff Michaud
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let's also not forget the dumbing down of America that's occurred over the last 8 years
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Douglas Buel
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The real question is, why are Russians so good at chess? Or at least, why are the champions most often Russian?

Because when you consider where the champions have come from since 1900, Russia is greatly represented while everyone else is kind of occasionally represented or not at all.
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Why is the rest of the world such bad swimmers?

Clearly since Michael Phelps is the single best swimmer in the world, he can represent his entire country. And everyone in his country is automatically a better swimmer than anyone outside of the country.



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Philip Thomas
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dbuel wrote:
The real question is, why are Russians so good at chess? Or at least, why are the champions most often Russian?

Because when you consider where the champions have come from since 1900, Russia is greatly represented while everyone else is kind of occasionally represented or not at all.


I think the Soviet Union had state-run chess training programmes. In fact it must have, because state-run was the only way you could have something. So they really put a lot of effort into training Chess champions, hence the upset when Bobby Fishcher beat Spassky (Btw, Fischer was still alive last I heard, if he was prepared to play Chess with someone he might be quite good...)

Not sure whether any USSR chess champions were from SSRs other than Russia (or have been from indepndent countries other than Russia since the break-up of the USSR).

As for American chess champions, are not most Chess AIs designed in America? Certainly America can take responsibility for the technological innovation which has produced Chess AIs capable of beating human grandmasters.
 
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Douglas Buel
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Philip Thomas wrote:
Not sure whether any USSR chess champions were from SSRs other than Russia


Latvia and Armenia
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Eugene van der Pijll
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I think it's because Americans generally aren't interested in games outside the BGG top 200.
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Matt Musselman
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I don't see how it's even remotely polite to pose an offensively-worded generalization like "Why are Americans so bad at chess?" and then request that people not troll/flame you.

Those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones, and all that.

Never mind that the number of Americans in the FIDE top 100 isn't a representative sample for how "bad at chess" any particular American may or may not be.
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I blame the Reagan years.
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Paul Doherty
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KrackerJack wrote:
Probably for the same reason the US has no top ranked soccer (football) players: It's not part of our cultural makeup.

Chess is not a game that Americans strive to master, even though there is wide popularity at low levels of play(both age and ability). Just like soccer. Why those two activities didn't get culturally assimilated is anyone's guess.


Exactly - don't see too many top US cricket players either, for the same reason. It's not our priority.
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Paul Doherty
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JeffyJeff wrote:
let's also not forget the dumbing down of America that's occurred over the last 8 years


That only applied at the Presidential level.
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Dave Eisen
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Philip Thomas wrote:

I think the Soviet Union had state-run chess training programmes. In fact it must have, because state-run was the only way you could have something. So they really put a lot of effort into training Chess champions, hence the upset when Bobby Fishcher beat Spassky (Btw, Fischer was still alive last I heard, if he was prepared to play Chess with someone he might be quite good...)


Fischer died earlier this year.

Philip Thomas wrote:
Not sure whether any USSR chess champions were from SSRs other than Russia (or have been from indepndent countries other than Russia since the break-up of the USSR).


Several were from other SSRs. I know of at least Petrosian, who was born in Georgia, and Tal, who was Latvian.

The current world chess champion is not Russian at all: Vishwanathan Anand.

 
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My Baloney
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JeffyJeff wrote:
let's also not forget the dumbing down of America that's occurred over the last 8 years


C'mon. That's ridiculous !! We've been just as dumb for centuries.
I just think the media has gotten real skilled at manipulating us.
First they sway us one way, then they sway us the other way...
and all they have to do is put reality shows and advertisements in front of us.
and lets face it,
it's easier to blame others for our mistakes... damn media.
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Daniel Danzer
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"Why are X so bad at Y?"

The most senseless kind of question.
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StevenE Smooth Sailing...
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Chess? What about academic studies? America slips annually in every category of education and the arts. We do excel in pro-sports (minus soccer and ping pong) and pop-culture trash.

But why no master chess players?

My first thought is because of too much crap TV and video games... and a dash of uninterested/uninvolved parents.

That is probably why it is a low priority culturally at all ages in America... Don't get me wrong I know there are interested and good players in the US... It is just not a cool activity for popular kids.

Even though I suck at chess, Chinese chess, Go and Shogi, I do enjoy them.

I've been thinking to get my 4yo and 3yo a set of checkers, chess and dominos for Christmas to start the thinking/logic processes.
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Joe Brumfield
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I think the last poster hit it on the nail on the head.

TV - Video Games - Uninterested Parents

When I was a child I had parents who taught me Chess around age 5-6, we didn't have video games yet (other then pong) and only had 3 TV stations with rabbit ears. Kids today have everything. Their parents don't want to pay attention to them. I work in a game store. Every day I get parents whom if I was to mention Chess or Checkers as a suggestion for their kids I would get the 'Then I would have to play with them. - No just give me some Yu-Gi-Oh or Pokemon.'

Today, we think of chess and checkers as 'old fashioned', not something which might teach our kids something. It is such a shame.

And to blame politics, come on, the president (no matter how bad he is) doesn't teach our children what games to play or learn.
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Bwian, just
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Brummy wrote:
Kids today have everything. Their parents don't want to pay attention to them.

Hey now, I don't have a problem paying attention to my kid. I sometimes even play abstract games with him, although he's a little young to get much out of them just yet.

Of course, we play Go. No reason to handicap the kid by teaching him Chess.
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Ed Sherman
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It's because the mystery of four-player chess has already been solved.
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John W
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I think there's lots of reasons culturally why Americans don't excel at chess:

* Chess is a game where (to succeed at anything but casual play) you MUST memorize standard openings, gambits, and exact moves that were determined decades/centuries ago.
Americans simply don't go for that, traditionally.
We prefer to be mavericks, and bring creativity and an individual spark to our interests.

* Chess is a game that requires insane amounts of dedicated time and effort to succeed at serious levels.
Most Americans simply can not dedicate that much efforts at one pursuit, since there is little possibility of making money at it.
If chess had multi-million-dollar salaries for the Top 500 players in the world, then you might get a bunch of American kids interested in spending the ludicrous amounts of time to be great at it.
 
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Douglas Buel
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reapersaurus wrote:
I think there's lots of reasons culturally why Americans don't excel at chess:

* Chess is a game where (to succeed at anything but casual play) you MUST memorize standard openings, gambits, and exact moves that were determined decades/centuries ago.
Americans simply don't go for that, traditionally.
We prefer to be mavericks, and bring creativity and an individual spark to our interests.

* Chess is a game that requires insane amounts of dedicated time and effort to succeed at serious levels.
Most Americans simply can not dedicate that much efforts at one pursuit, since there is little possibility of making money at it.
If chess had multi-million-dollar salaries for the Top 500 players in the world, then you might get a bunch of American kids interested in spending the ludicrous amounts of time to be great at it.


They should change the rules of chess so that you win by liberating France from the Nazis.
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Mi Myma
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I think it's because Fischer was such a shmuck and a whack-job, that no one wants to follow in his footsteps for fear of being compared to him.
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Timothy Sullivan
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JeffyJeff wrote:
let's also not forget the dumbing down of America that's occurred over the last 8 years


Were more Americans in the rankings in 2000?
 
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Patrick Runyan
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It's because Chess sucks and Americans have a higher standard for entertainment than the rest of the world.

I would like to believe we can invent better games in this epoch of human civilization than the ancients, just as we invented better means of transportation, communication, and (arguably) government.

The only game I would rather play less than chess are the old math space invaders game we had in elementary school. Admittedly, rock-paper-scissors is perhaps worse than chess on many levels, but even it wins out in my list due to the fact that it ends much more quickly. Here, time consumed is an exponential factor in the equation of a game's suckiness index.

Did I mention already just how much I really hate chess?
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