Thursday, November 15, 2007

Chess Master Title = Degree?

Well that was an interesting little discussion you guys had over the "Antic Case". I'm particularly thankful to those who made long and considered comments. A couple of academics even made an appearance. Cheers.

Accompanying that, of course, was our poll and the numbers are in. Those who agree or strongly agree that a chess master title is equivalent to a university degree win hands down.

Yet I'm not now sure that this is all settled. That's because I'm still honestly struggling to understand how or on what basis we can even compare the pursue of chess excellence and scholarship (and by this latter term I refer specifically to those areas of study that are typically found in a university prospectus). It's also why I posed the question in that Antic post.

I do like Dr Smirnov's take on this. Says he, "[A]s an economist I would suggest to ask who is more useful for the society (a PhD or GM). I believe the answer is also obvious."

So, who is more useful?


Anonymous said...

Hi Amiel,

I know Dejan Antic for almost 15 years and my comments might be biased. Discussion on who is more useful seems a bit abstract anyway.

If I remember correctly, Ian Rogers told me in Sofia that he is writing for more than 10 Australian newspaper and magazines. I would take it as there is enough of interest in the readership. With this in mind, I think Australia needs another Grandmaster.

Anonymous said...

Rogers is a qualified journalist and has a university degree as well as english being his first language. Also speaks fluent dutch

Antic has what qualifications other than a GM title?

Anonymous said...

Misunderstanding, I didn't suggest Antic to be a journalist. My point is that there are lots of people interested in chess and Australia would benefit from another GM in one way or another.

Anonymous said...

"Rogers is a qualified journalist "...Rogers doesnt have a journalism degree. He does however have a degree in meteorology.

Antic's value to Australia is quite obvious. He excells in his chosen profession. If he was a gymnastics coach who had the same skill and experience level there would simply be no debate or delay in his residency.

Anonymous said...

What alot of people dont understand is that playing chess and teaching chess are completely different. Mr Antic has a GM title which makes him a good player but this says nothing about his coaching ability. If he is applying as an elite sportsman so be it but if he is applying for a coach his GM title means very little. (often strong players are bad coaches because they cannot adjust their level accordingly)

Anonymous said...

I'm not making a judgement here, merely an observation:

Considering the fact that this is a chess blog and that the majority (if not all) viewers of this blog are chess players, I'm unsurprised by the direction of voting. This does, however; place an element of bias on the results. Were you to poll the same number of voters who weren't chess players on this matter, I'd place my bets on the results coming out as a resounding 'No'.

Just my two cents on the matter.

Anonymous said...

I would choose the GM over the economist every day. If the GM stuffs up, they only affect one person where if the economist stuffs up, the effects are manifestly felt according to the trust and authority of their degree and position.

Planner said...

one anonymous said ... "I would choose the GM over the economist every day. If the GM stuffs up, they only affect one person where if the economist stuffs up, the effects are manifestly felt according to the trust and authority of their degree and position."

i reckon the above comment is just pretty damn stupid and just shows the significance economics has over chess. my assumption is you're pro chess title over uni degree? didn't do a very good job of it to tell you the truth.

i am a chess coach with an acf rating around 1800, an undergraduate university student, played in aussie champs and other tournaments and love chess a lot, but i am not biased. chess has very little to offer society in any respect other than to other chess players.

we understand that it has been scientifically proven to enhance intelligence, but we must remember there is no point in enhancing intelligence if it is not applied to something practical, which once again lies outside the realms of chess. the intelligence raising part seems to be the only usefulness of chess, and maybe social interaction and recreation as well. but these are easily taken up by other activities.

i think the comparison of a chess master title to a degree is also stupid, it is utterly impossible to compare as they are completely different things. each has its merits and detriments. if we are going to compare we have to take the same stance as to what basis of comparison we are making: work involved, difficulty, time, outcome, practicality, usefulness etc. everyone is just gallivanting around like chickens with their heads cut off giving random opinions.

all the arguments, including mine, have no connection to each other what so ever, so any comment, or poll just will not logically make sense, thus no informed outcome can be made. i'm not wording this properly i think but hopefully people get the point.

that being said, i do agree that antic can have some usefulness as a coach and that you can make some living out of it. people who are less qualified are doing it. a lot of chess coaches are really pathetic i think from my experience. so antics experience would be much welcomed, but i dont know how good he is in teaching which really is the important part.

theres no point in being a coach if you cant teach, no matter how good you are. no offense to antic, i do not know him so he may very well be a very very good teacher, but if he isn't it would defeat the purpose of becoming a coach.

Anonymous said...

My two cents, 'GM over an economist' got a dollars worth of reply. Although I am all for Antic receiving Aus citizenship, he would be a welcome addition to the chess ranks, adding to the depth of playing and coaching talent available in the country. Comparing his value against an economist, doctor, or any other profession, is not fair. His case would have to be compared to a sportsperson or artist to be even a comparable case. Seeing as how some areas within those arenas are now being attached to PhD's, or at least some degree of University Study, being a GM should be considered the equivalent of a tertiary education when compared. In this case we are not looking at importing some 2nd grade English cricketer to bolster the Australian team.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps we need to define "useful"? :-) For an economist, "useful" might be related to the amount of money earned and spent in the economy, whereas someone else might think "useful" refers to the contributions to others in society (e.g. an unpaid volunteer in an abused children's shelter might be more 'useful' than, say, a manager who makes lots of money but if he were to disappear the company would go on just fine without him/her...or bureaucrats...we could get rid of half of them and nobody would notice, except things might be more efficient :-).

"Useful" also might include how useful it is for the person themself. If a GM title puts food on the table, then it certainly is useful.

As a mentioned in the other thread (and someone mentioned here too) comparing GM titles to degrees is next to useless (should I define "useless?" ;-)heh-heh), since they're so different they can't be compared. By the same token, can we actually compare a GM title's usefulness to other titles/jobs/positions without first defining what we mean by "useful".

btw, I know someone whose definition of "useful" would exclude over 90% of the people regardless of their titles or positions since he figures they're inert unthinking lumps taking up space and resources who are wasting their lives away watching hours and hours of mindless tv drivel while getting fat and unwell, thus becoming a drain on the health care system. These people exist only to be brainwashed into buying needless items (such as huge gas-guzzling polluting vehicles) that pander to their insecurities; insecurities which are fostered by hours of brainwashing from tv and all flash no substance ads. He considers most of them to be useless sheep and figures the world would be a much cleaner, nicer place without them around to gum up the works. :-)

A bit extreme perhaps, but it certainly highlights how concepts of "useful" will vary.

--Daniel J. Andrews

Michael Baron said...

Would I love Antic to get Auzzie citeznship? Yes I would! He is a strong chess player and a great guy!

However, I do not understand how sporting achievements can be compared to university degrees. They are simply not compatible. I love spicy foods, but i would not consider putting pepper into my ice-cream....

Antic should definitely be awarded Aus citizenship but how can one measure chess titles against uni degrees? FM = Undergraduate IM = Masters and GM= Ph.D.? hmm..and what about those who got soft FM titles from zonals? should they be given TAFE diplomas?

Value of a GM title could very well be higher than value of Ph.D. However, GM title is no substitute for academic qualifications.

In fact, it is one of the reasons that 90% or so Grandmasters (possibly more) have been educated to at very least an undergraduate level. Chess compliments education but it does not substitute it!

Anonymous said...

I must be wrong in my reading and maths ability
but I read Strongly dis = 30 Vs strongly agree = 32 not exactly a landslide!

and strong dis or dis = 30+9 Vs agree or strongly so = 2+32

this may be dynamic rather than a snapshot at a certain time.

I would like Antic to be allowed to stay, able to financially look after himself being the only proviso I suppose - but even then maybe ok.

Comparison should be to a member (or trainer) of the Olympiad team (akin to letting Olympic boxing champs in).

Anonymous said...

"Chess compliments education but it does not substitute it!"...

Michael, chessplayers spend thousands of hours STUDYING to become Grandmasters,university students spend thousands of hours getting their degrees.
Why cant you see the similarity?

Kevin Bonham said...

Anonymous 3:05pm Nov 19: the figure for agree is actually 21 not 2 (the 1 is hard to read on the graph) so agree + strongly agree = 21+32 = 53 vs 39 disagree. That, plus the point made by Tony Dowden (that some of those who disagree may consider the GM title *far more* valuable) may or may not be a "landslide", but I reckon the other Kevin would take it this weekend. ;)

"Planner" - there are a lot of chess players on some level or another. Plenty of people gain enjoyment or interest from the games of leading players (even locally) without themselves being serious experienced chessplayers.

Anonymous said...

"chessplayers spend thousands of hours STUDYING to become Grandmasters,university students spend thousands of hours getting their degrees.
Why cant you see the similarity?"

A similarity is they both spend long periods of time striving toward a goal. But amount of time doing something in one field is irrelevant to amount of time doing something in another field much less the same field. Some take decades to get their GM title...does this mean their GM title is more or less valuable than someone who obtained their GM title in 5 years? Or compare a 5-year GM title to a 10-year PhD title (is one more valuable because one took longer/shorter than the other?).

There are far more differences than similarities, and that can be found in many instances. Stars and plants are similar in that they both possess hydrogen atoms, but comparisons beyond that are rather limited. Same with the GM titles vs degrees. Beyond time required comparisons are limited, if not irrelevant.

Chaos said...

I think that Chess Titles should be a degree but then the lowest titles should indicate a degree.

However this argument hinges around several key points for me.
1) This must mean schools must offer a rigorous chess course in which the final test would be to attend tournaments where achieving a title is possible (or hosting them!). The problem here is without an influx of players both to play in the tournaments, participate in the programs and TEACH at the appropiate schools.... well this is never possible!
2) Why should 'communications' or 'political science' be degrees when Chess is not? Just like any degree you gain certain skills that will carry over to EVERYTHING. Just because your subject matter focus is strange or unpopular by comparison does not make it any less valid. I will argue this point to the death because even now most companies do not care what your degree is but simply that you HAVE one.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

(TCG: I am posting this here on behalf of Daniel as he'd posted it in another post).

My understanding is that you read these comments before you post them so this comment is not for posting, at least not in this topic. I wanted to add a couple more comments re: GM title equivalent to a graduate degree.

Since that discussion I've taken more notice of what people with graduate degrees have done. It has just reinforced my conclusion that a GM title isn't anywhere near to equivalent to a graduate degree simply because a chess title lacks the versatility.

For example, I've met people who have an M.Sc. in wildlife biology. Some are working with the animals themselves, but others have left that field. One gained experience with wildlife cameras at bait traps, then started filming, then took a job in television doing wildlife filming, moved on to appearing in front of the tv, and just moved down to the states where he's off with National Geographic for a bit (sort of like Sir David Attenborough who ended up running the BBC and then brought us the fantastic Life of...series).

Another one began concentrating on DNA work, moved to wildlife forensics (poaching rings), and then landed a job with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in the forensic data recovery unit gathering evidence to be used for murder trials...I think he said he either worked in or will work in the lab itself doing the tests.

Others branched out into ecotours and they take people on tours to Costa Rica, Yukon, Antarctica and other regions (see Quest Tours as an example). Others became policy wonks and worked their way into politics (for better or worse). Others work as lab professors at colleges or universities teaching students.

And on it goes. People with the same degree being able to branch out into so many different fields. Until GM titles are given that sort of recognition or respect, or until the people with them can demonstrate that amount of professional adaptability I just don't see them as equivalent regardless of the amount of time put in (which is an irrelevant measure as I explained in one of my previous posts).

--Daniel J. Andrews

Anonymous said...

certainly not... In life there is much more than just playing board games. If GM gets a degree than why shouldnt bridge player get it aswell. Think there is no purpose in chess playing (except personal pleasure and/or enhancing intel) and mastering one percise thing doesnt deserve a degree. Its like if a guy on university would get a degree out of one single school subject

Anonymous said...

"Education in Chess has to be an education in independent thinking and judgement. Chess must not be memorized, simply because it is not important enough. ... Memory is too valuable to be stocked with trifles."

Emanuel Lasker