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Do chess players suffer from hot hands syndrome? - Printable Version

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Do chess players suffer from hot hands syndrome? - Mike Scott - 10-12-2011

Hot hands is something I read about in a BBC web site article - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-16074623 - which reports on an investigation into the believe that basketball players have that if they score a long range shot that they have hot hands and are therefore more likely to score with their next shots. The research confirmed that players that did score with a shot did then attempt more long range shots.

However what it also showed was that a player that has just scored with a long range shot is LESS likely to score on their next shot. They also found that the player that misses a shot is MORE likely to get the next shot.

The conclusion being "... that despite years of experience, professional basketball players let the outcomes of their most recent actions affect their behaviour in ways that can negatively impact their performance.

Whats this to do with chess?

Well how often do we play a good or bad move (or game) and let that cloud our assessments and actions thereafter? I guess it is no different from the gambler that gets lucky, assumes that the gods are on his side and keeps playing and loosing until all the pennies are gone.

I wonder how often that someone plays well, gets a good position and gambles it on a move they can not properly calculate but play because they assume that they're playing well. Or how often do we miss a saving move or even a winning move because we stop trusting our own judgement because of a poor earlier move?

It also again shows what a gulf can exist between human gut feeling/instincts/old wife's tales when a scientific study is applied.


Re: Do chess players suffer from hot hands syndrome? - Andrew McHarg - 13-12-2011

It's an interesting point Mike and I think it's one of the major things which affects performance. Psychology is one of the most underestimated parts of Chess imo. Being able to blank previous poor moves and a bad position from your mind and play to the best of your ability regardless is not easy. It's like being 2 sets down in a tennis match and still trying to win. I think a lot of players switch off from a game of Chess if they are losing; when in fact if they played brilliant moves they might still draw or win.

Which begs the question; is a sport psychologist a good asset for a Chess player? Smile