Dr. Anique de Bruin on Deliberate Practice and the Science of Chess Learning

This week on Perpetual Chess, we look at chess study from a different angle- what does the science of learning teach us about how best to study chess? Joining us to discuss it is an expert in the field, Dr. Anique de Bruin of Maastricht University in the Netherlands. Dr. de Bruin researches the topics of deliberate practice and desirable difficulty and researched and wrote about chess skill acquisition, both in her dissertation and in an essay she wrote called “Helping Chess Players Improve” for the book The Chess Instructor 2009. In our conversation, Anique highlights noteworthy research around chess and deliberate practice, shares advice for chess instructors and self-motivated students, and discusses what her research revealed about gender and chess. This was a fascinating conversation that helped me refine my thinking about how to best teach and study chess independently. Timestamps of the topics discussed are below. Time-tested thrills: experience the best emulater online games selection right now.

Thanks to our presenting chess education sponsor, Chessable.com. You can check our their new courses here:

And some of my favorites here:

0:00- As a researcher without a chess background, what initially got Anique interested in researching chess?
Mentioned: KPrime Podcast Episode 3 with Anique de Bruin

16:00- Is it necessary for deliberate practice to be “unenjoyable?”
18:00- Did the publication of Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell alter the nature of Anique’s research?
20:00- What did Anique’s research and gender reveal about gender and chess?
26:30- Patreon mailbag question: “What books does Anique recommend for finding out more about the science of learning?”
Mentioned: In Their Own Words: What Scholars and Teachers Want You To Know about How to Apply the Science of Learning in an Academic Setting (free download)

Why Don’t Students Like School
Make it Stick: The Science of Learning

28:00- Patreon mailbag question: “What is the biggest thing that chess coaches get wrong?”
32:30- Patreon mailbag question: “Is there evidence to support the contention that chess players do better academically?”
35:00- Anique discusses her recent research relating to self-regulated study, “desirable difficulties.”
43:00- If Anique could do a research study about any chess topic, what would it be?
45:30- Anique gives her parting advice for self-directed adult chess students.

Thanks to Dr. de Bruin for a fascinating interview! Her contact info is on her bio page with the University of Maastricht:


  1. Consider interviewing Fernand Gobet, expert on the topic~

  2. Excellent interview and a wonderful guest. Thank you!

  3. I LOVED this episode! Great guest! 🎉

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