Last night’s TV

Sam Wollaston Tuesday July 17, 2007
The Guardian

…The previous occupants of the house I grew up in were all dead brainy. The two boys apparently used to go for walks and, instead of chatting about football or girls or whatever, they used to play chess against each other – without a board, just memorising the whole game in their enormous brains. In order to concentrate properly, they didn’t like to walk along together, but a hundred yards or so apart. So they used to employ their kid sister as a messenger, to run between the two of them, to deliver the next move: “His knight [pant pant pant] takes your bishop.”

It turns out she should have been playing as well. Girls can play chess too, apparently. And here, on My Brilliant Brain (Five), is Susan Polgar to prove it. She’s the first female grandmaster, and she can play up to FIVE games simultaneously in her head. Ha! In her wake she leaves a trail of the shattered egos of men who have fixed ideas of what women can and cannot do. Is there anything worse than a man who has fixed ideas about what women can and cannot do?

Anyway, the really interesting thing about Susan’s genius is that it was taught. Instead of Barbies, she got a chess set and books of old games to study. Her mates were the old geezers in the smoky chess clubs of Budapest. Chess became intuitive to her, and intuition is the key. Her dad reckons it didn’t have to be chess – it could have been music, science, mathematics, anything. We could all be geniuses if we wanted to.

This show is full of interesting stuff about how brains work, and how men and women think differently. For me, the most interesting bit was about the condition Times columnist Mary Ann Sieghart suffers from. She can’t recognise people – face blindness, it’s called.

Source: The Guardian

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Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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