Tag Archives: memory

3 Fundamental Chess Skills

When you hear about chess skills, you normally think about calculating variations, visualization and all that.  While these are definitely important, they aren’t the most fundamental chess skills.  To fully develop from beginner to intermediate and then to advanced, you need to master these basics first.  I’ve listed them below, going from most fundamental to more specialist as we go. Continue reading

Remembering Inane Passwords

Passwords. They have become so ubiquitous in modern life that we rarely think about them. Even our phones have passwords, and some cars and even houses have electronic locks that you can access with a password. They are here to stay, and virtually everything we do, certainly every transaction, has a password associated with it.

I still remember my first password. I needed one at the end of public school to access the brand new computer lab. Yes, we just got computers in my public school. No, I’m not 90 years old. That’s what happens when you live in a rural area. Anyway, I needed to come up with something, and not knowing what else to do, I picked my favourite Pokemon.

Pokemon was really popular at the time, okay?!

It was clean, simple, easy to remember and no one ever hacked it. I thought it was great, and I would have kept using it as my password forever … until they changed how passwords work.

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Fun Fact: I’ve Memorized The Lion King

I don’t celebrate March Break, or Spring Break or whatever it’s called nowadays. No, for me, it’s more the March Work-More. I’m a martial arts instructor, and my dojo holds karate-themed camps the entire week. These run from 8:30am until 4:30pm. We still, of course, have our regular classes in the afternoon, so a day can easily span 12 hours.

In general, something amusing happens during every camp. Last time, for example, I had to pretend to read Mandarin. Why? I had no choice, honestly. It was the logic of camp. You don’t fight it, you accept it.  Now, you might be wondering, what does any of this have to do with The Lion King? Believe it or not, everything. It’s all connected, like the Circle of Life.

My favourite opening scene of all time, bar none, easily.

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A Good Student or a Good Memory?

I got into a conversation the other day, and somehow the conversation turned to chess. I don’t know how or why, as the other person had virtually no knowledge of chess, but he asked about my chess history. I explained how I started at the age of six and reached a rating of 1800 within the next 10 years. That number puts me in the top 5% of all chess players, though likely only the bottom 20% of serious players.

I’m not saying I’m as good as Fischer or anything, but … seriously, I’m nowhere near Fischer.

Upon hearing this, he made a low whistle and then said, “Wow, so you must be gifted, then? I mean, you are one smart dude.” He knew that I had my Master’s degree, so that fact combined with my chess skill made him think I was gifted. This shows, once again, how chess is frequently seen as a game of pure intelligence, as if the smarter person must win. That’s not strictly true, as the better player wins, not the smarter one, but that’s a topic for a different day.

He asked if I were gifted, though, and the answer is … it’s complicated. Continue reading

My Current Mental Training

On Sunday I outlined my physical training. Today I’d like to show how I’m currently approaching my mental training. Hmm. That sounds odd, ‘mental training.’ It’s not a concept we hear a lot. I’d wager mental fitness is just as important as physical fitness. Our brains can do amazing things, and we can train our mind longer and more often than our bodies. Even better, you can do it virtually anywhere.

I won’t lie, becoming a real-life Patrick Jane, minus the depression and having your family murdered and all, would be pretty awesome.

I would like to say I’m following a master plan from some genius that will take me to the very peaks of mental ability … but I’m not. I don’t know if such a plan is even possible. Googling ‘mental training’ produces very few results, mostly superficial. ‘Think positive’ is good advice, but it’s not making our brains better, is it? I’m not interested in this self-help approach; I want self-learning. Continue reading

The Ideal Person: The Mental Side

The other day I made a post discussing a hypothetical ideal person. When discussing what an ideal person could be physically, it was easy. They should be strong, fast, mobile and healthy. There isn’t much else we can say about that topic. When it comes to our mental side, our intelligence, things become a bit harder.

Obviously an ideal person should be smart, but that’s a pretty vague word. Think of a doctor, a lawyer, a scientist, a CEO of a company. All four of these people are smart, but they are smart in very different ways. I don’t just mean the content of their knowledge. Obviously each has a different professional skillset, but they all actually think differently. Think of the difference between being book-smart and street-smart. If you imagine that difference as a continuum, each profession, indeed likely every person, would fall somewhere inbetween the two extremes.

Cats can be smart, too. Image taken from chickensmoothie.com

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