Whether it’s chess or piano, programming or painting, adults interested in learning something new often have a hard time translating that interest into daily want, then action, then progress.
A big deterrent is simply getting started, because we have an inflated sense of what getting started means. The barrier to entry seems high since we know decent performance skills are just the beginning, almost prerequisites.
Only after Picasso could paint really well did he start to create his art. Only after we can read music and coordinate our fingers along scales and chords may we begin to play the masterpieces.
Or maybe, we are content to go along the beginner’s journey and end it there. After understanding syntax, a few file formats, some interfaces, a couple algorithms and data structures, we know the rest is just a matter of putting it together and working long, tedious debugging sessions.
We no longer need to become a seasoned programmer, because now we’re in the know. We basically know how to program, so we stop. Mission accomplished. I claim this too is a form of never actually getting started.
Chess is the easiest of the group to pick up and do mildly well, setting the stage for a great getting-started process as well as a continuing, low-pressure, lifelong journey. The basic building blocks are limited and very clear-cut. Win-loss feedback quickly teaches us to avoid obvious mistakes we’re making.
However, most people find chess a bit tedious and unrewarding. It doesn’t seem a very stimulating or fun sport. There’s also the ego-crushing status aspect. With other activities, you don’t get so directly beaten, out-smarted by other folks’ brains.
I strongly believe that anyone can become good at most things—and enjoy it!—including chess. The key is the learning method: how the activity is introduced, how the challenges of learning are sequenced, and how the competitive arena is formatted to challenge and engage all levels.
For anybody interested, I created an introductory guide called “Chess The Fun Way!”