The Price Of Mastery

This interesting article shows that I’m not the only tai chi fanatic around, though I don’t know how he expects to manage on just 90 minutes practice per day. I usually do a couple of hours and this barely seems enough. Three or four would be more like it but it can be difficult to create the time.

Three to four hours per day is the sort of time I spent studying, thinking about and playing chess. During my formative years I did this solely to improve my own game, now it’s mainly in my work with students or writing. If chess wasn’t my job I think I’d spend several hours a day just looking at games and positions. If I didn’t do this I’d miss it.

Most people don’t do this, which is the number one reason they don’t progress as much as they hope. A snatched 30 minutes amidst the chaos of ‘normal life’ is what most people manage, and it’s never enough to achieve the kind of fluency they aspire to.

So is the price of mastery too high? Jonathan Miller sees tai chi as having applications to business as a reward, but I see it in different terms. Each moment spent on trying to master a particular art (whether it be chess, martial arts, music) can be so deeply centering that it’s a reward in itself. I’d also say that each additional moment you put in has an ever greater value as mastery emerges from the cloud of confusion.

Here’s a clip that Miller would like, Chen Bing doing Chen style tai chi:

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About NigelD

Nigel Davies is an International Chess Grandmaster living in St. Helens in the UK. The winner of 15 international tournaments he is also a former British U21 and British Open Quickplay Champion and has represented both England and Wales on several occasions. These days Nigel teaches chess through his chess training web site, Tiger Chess, which has articles, recommendations, a monthly clinic, videos and courses. His students include his 15 year old son Sam who is making rapid progress with his game. Besides teaching chess, Nigel is a registered tai chi and qigong instructor and runs several weekly classes.