International Scholastic Freestyle Chess Tournament

Freestyle Chess Tournament

To promote education reform, we are developing the International Scholastic Freestyle Chess Tournament (ISFreCT). In the ISFreCT, students can work in teams and make use of any technical support for selecting their chess moves.

ISFreCT will explore former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov’s ideas of using the decision-making process of chess as a model for understanding and improving our decision-making everywhere else and how we have discarded innovation and creativity in exchange for a steady supply of marketable products.

In a book review of Diego Rasskin-Gutman’s Chess Metaphors: Artificial Intelligence and the Human Mind, Garry Kasparov wrote about freestyle chess:

In 2005, the online chess-playing site Playchess.com hosted what it called a “freestyle” chess tournament in which anyone could compete in teams with other players or computers….

Lured by the substantial prize money, several groups of strong grandmasters working with several computers at the same time entered the competition. At first, the results seemed predictable. The teams of human plus machine dominated even the strongest computers. The chess machine Hydra, which is a chess-specific supercomputer like Deep Blue, was no match for a strong human player using a relatively weak laptop. Human strategic guidance combined with the tactical acuity of a computer was overwhelming.

The surprise came at the conclusion of the event. The winner was revealed to be not a grandmaster with a state-of-the-art PC but a pair of amateur American chess players using three computers at the same time. Their skill at manipulating and “coaching” their computers to look very deeply into positions effectively counteracted the superior chess understanding of their grandmaster opponents and the greater computational power of other participants. Weak human + machine + better process was superior to a strong computer alone and, more remarkably, superior to a strong human + machine + inferior process.

In a lecture, Walter Isaacson also talked about the power of the partnership between humans and technology:

[T]his type of artificial intelligence [where computers are not only smarter than humans but can also design themselves to be even supersmarter] may take a few more generations or even centuries. We can leave that debate to the futurists. Indeed, depending on your definition of consciousness, it may never happen. We can leave that debate to the philosophers and theologians.

There is, however, another possibility: that the partnership between humans and technology will always be more powerful than purely artificial intelligence. Call it the Ada Lovelace approach. Machines would not replace humans, she felt, but instead become their collaborators. What humans –and humanists – would bring to this relationship, she said, was originality and creativity.

The past fifty years have shown that this strategy of combining computer and human capabilities has been far more fruitful than the pursuit of machines that could think on their own.

Want Your Children To Succeed?
Teach Them Chess & Computer Programming!
Magnus Carlsen and Bill Gates

World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen playing second wealthiest person according to Forbes Microsoft Co-founder and Chairman Bill Gates.

According to studies:

  • Chess boosts brain power in kids.
  • Chess improves IQ.
  • Chess enhances arithmetical skills.
  • Chess hones verbal skills.
  • Chess sharpens critical thinking skills.
  • Chess boosts emotional intelligence and psycho-social skills.

Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, William Shakespeare, Napoleon Bonaparte, Winston Churchill, Will Smith, Bono, and Madonna were or are avid chess players. Tennis legend and six-time Grand Slam singles champion Boris Becker said:

“I used to prepare for my tennis matches by playing chess, and it would get my mind stimulated and focused before going on court. It was essentially a mental warm-up.”

According to a ChessBase article, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S Grant, Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barak Obama all played chess. While George Bush (43), George Bush (41), Ronald Reagan, and Richard Nixon did not play chess.

President Obama and Family Chess

President Obama with Malia, right, with Sasha in the First Lady’s lap.

In an interview with The Harvard Business Review, former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov said:

There is nothing cute or charming about chess; it is a violent sport, and when you confront your opponent you set out to crush his ego. The world chess masters with whom I have competed over the years nearly all share my belief that chess is a battleground on which the enemy has to be vanquished. This is what it means to be a chess player, and I cannot imagine that it is very different from what it takes to be a top-ranked CEO.

Bill Clinton and Gary Kasparov

Bill Clinton played for the Georgetown University chess team in 1968. He met with Garry Kasparov and was a keen supporter of the Chess in Schools program.

At the ages of 13 Demis Hassabis reached the rank of chess master, and was the second-highest-rated player in the world under 14 at the time. Hassabis received his PhD in cognitive neuroscience from University College London in 2009. On January 27, 2014, DeepMind founded by Hassabis was acquired by Google for about $500 million – the company’s largest European acquisition – in order to add technology and talent to Google’s core business of search.

Demis Hassabis

Chess prodigy Demis Hassabis is the co-founder of DeepMind which was acquired by Google for ~$500 million.

In approximately 30 nations across the globe, including Brazil, China, Venezuela, Italy, Israel, Russia and Greece, etc., chess is incorporated into the country’s scholastic curriculum. Just as athletics are a part of the required agenda at schools in the United States, Chess has been that way in the European Nations abroad. On March 13th, 2012 the European Parliament endorsed the ‘Chess in European schools’ program.

And learning computer programming has never been more important. According to Douglas Rushkoff, author of Program or Be Programmed:

When human beings acquired language, we learned not just how to listen but how to speak. When we gained literacy, we learned not just how to read but how to write. And as we move into an increasingly digital reality, we must learn not just how to use programs but how to make them. In the emerging, highly programmed landscape ahead, you will either create the software or you will be the software. It’s really that simple: Program, or be programmed.

Robert Nay

Robert Nay at 14 years old built a number 1 iPhone app called Bubble Ball.

One of the fundamental problems with our current educational system is that students are not taught to understand their own power of agency. Seth Godin wrote a blog entry addressing this issue:

Agency is the ability to make a decision, and to be responsible for the decision you make….

Every worker in every job is given a pass, because he’s just doing his job. The cigarette marketer or the foreman in the low-wage sweatshop… they’re just doing their jobs.

This free pass is something that makes the industrial economy so attractive to many people. They’ve been raised to want someone else to be responsible for the what and the how, and they’d just like a job, thanks very much.

As the industrial company sputters and fades, there’s a fork in the road. In one direction lies the opportunity to regain agency, to take responsibility for ever more of our actions and their effects. In the other direction is the race to the bottom, and the dehumanizing process of more compliance, a cog in an uncaring system.

Most of us believe that the best way to motivate ourselves and others is with external rewards like money—the carrot-and-stick approach. That’s a mistake, Daniel H. Pink says in, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, his provocative and persuasive new book. The secret to high performance and satisfaction—at work, at school, and at home—is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.

[Y]ou [cannot] understand why someone [is] healthy [or wealthy] if all you [do is] think about their individual choices or actions in isolation. You [have] to look beyond the individual. You [have] to understand what culture they were a part of, and who their friends and families were, and what town… their family came from. You [have] to appreciate the idea that community — the values of the world we inhabit and the people we surround ourselves with — has a profound effect on who we are. ~ Malcolm Gladwell

When it comes to motivation, there’s a gap between what science knows and what business does. Our current business operating system–which is built around external, carrot-and-stick motivators–doesn’t work and often does harm. We need an upgrade. And the science shows the way. This new approach has three essential elements: 1. Autonomy – the desire to direct our own lives. 2. Mastery— the urge to get better and better at something that matters. 3. Purpose — the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves. ~ Daniel Pink

Zuckerber & Carlsen

Co-founder, Chairman, and CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg playing World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen. On January 30, 2014, Facebook stock hit a new high of $61 per share which makes Zuckerberg’s stake worth $31 billion.

 

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