We investigated the role of practice in the acquisition of chess expertise by submitting a questionnaire to 104 players of different skill levels. Players had to report their chess rating, the number of hours of individual and group practice, their use of different learning resources and activities, and whether they had been trained by a coach. The use of archival data enabled us to track the rating of some of the players throughout their career. We found that there was a strong correlation between chess skill and number of hours of practice. Moreover, group practice was a better predictor of high-level performance than individual practice. We also found that masters had a higher chess rating than expert players after only three years of serious dedication to chess, although there were no differences in the number of hours of practice. The difference that may explain the variation in rating is that masters start practising at an earlier age than experts. Finally, we found that activities such as reading books and using computer software (game databases, but not playing programs) were important for the development of high-level performance. Together with previous data and theories of expert performance, our results indicate limits in the deliberate practice framework and make suggestions on how best to carry out learning in chess and in other fields. © 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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