From The Mercenary Trader:
"Marion Tinsley won a lot, too, but it wasn't because he was lucky. Tinsley was known as the greatest player of checkers (also known as draughts) in the world. In 1948, he was crowned as the United States champion; shortly before his death in 1994, he tied Don Lafferty and a computer program named Chinook for first place. In the intervening 45 years, Tinsley lost only seven individual games for a near-perfect record. In two of those games, he was defeated by Chinook. Despite the fact that he didn't play for long periods of time (he was a professor of mathematics at Florida State and Florida A&M Universities), he reigned as world champion in three separate decades.
"Tinsley's success resulted from years of deliberate practice. In his youth, Tinsley spent eight hours a day, five days a week, studying checkers, and he continued to study the game, though less intensely, throughout his life. He cultivated a prodigious memory that allowed him to recall the flow of games he had played decades earlier. Tinsley was fiercely competitive and claimed that he could beat all comers, man or machine, as long as his health didn't fail him."
- Michael Mauboussin, The Success Equation: Untangling Skill and Luck in Business, Sports, and Investing
The remarkable thing here is not the practice effort Tinsley put in — though that is remarkable in itself — but the fact a game as basic as checkers can yield such a dominant competitive edge.
We are accustomed to the brainy chess champion, because chess is so inherently complex. (There are more hypothetical chess game outcomes than there are particles in the known universe.)
Checkers, however, is just red and black discs jumping over each other...
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