Learning CHESS vs Learning MATH

As a math professor, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to learn math effectively. Recently I’ve been picking up the game of Chess, and those effective study habits from math are also great for learning chess, and vice versa. In this video I walk through and compare my study tips for the two disciplines.

0:00 Chess vs Math
0:39 Master the small details
2:04 Practice Yourself vs Learn from Experts
3:56 Review
4:54 Persistence
7:18 Memorization vs Understanding
11:04 Growth Mindset


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  1. I had a very positive experience when i was trying to get better at chess. I felt that it made me feel better and do better at other areas of my life like time management and studying.

  2. Welcome to the world of infinite possibilities. Chess is love.

  3. And this way I feel we are going to be able to relate each and every sector with that of learning math. The main idea which I could draw is that we are supposed to get into the depth of the matter with a deeper analysis done on a regular basis consistently to master the subject. Nice approach! 😀

  4. Are you implying that if we can master chess it will improve our abilities in maths?

  5. Whenever I play Chess I always think I am doing a math problem.

  6. I am a math student and I found the memorization point very much relatable to me.
    I am very bad at memorization and always think that I can do any problem with just mere understanding but in exam I don't remember formulae or principle required to solve certain problem and Perform badly in test.
    My teacher always wonder how I get such less Marks despite having such good understanding of concepts😕

  7. John Nunn is one of the greatest Grandmasters of chess and he also has Ph.D in mathematics.
    You should check his immortal games.

  8. As I was watching this I had an unfinished problem in front of me where I needed to find the eigenvalues of a 5×5 matrix which seems VERY tedious, but then you started talking about persistence and not being intellectually lazy and that really struck a chord with me, thanks prof!

  9. U look like a indian superstar with ur beard

  10. Sir, I loved your videos. your videos made me like math.

  11. Numerical and Statistical Computing

    (1)Floating Point

    (2)Solution of algebraic and transcendental equations

    (3)Solution of linear algebaric equations

    (4)Numeriacal Integration


    (6)Numerical Solution of ordinary differential equations

    (7)Solution of ordinary differential equations using Runge-Kutta Methods

    (8)Probability distributions


    (10)Pseudo Random Number Generation

    (11)Regression Analysis

    (12)Gaussian Quadrature

    (13)LU Decomposition Method

    (14)Method of Successive Iteration

    (15)The Successive Overrelaxation Method

  12. one of great teacher that I have seen in my life🔥❤️

  13. 11:33 totally true, anyone can learn! It's about consistency and good sources, no natural talent needed 🙂 and today thanks to youtube we have awesome teachers to learn from like you 😉

  14. As an International Chess Master, I absolutely agree with this! Love your videos!

  15. Hi Trefor! Former student Carter here from Calc 1 in Fall 2018 at UC. I'm glad to see that you picked up chess. I started playing obsessively about a year and a half ago. Lots of professional chess players ended up with careers in mathematics. I suppose the opposite may be true as well.

    I reached a similar conclusion to you about the importance and significance of understanding ideas as opposed to memorizing ideas a few months ago when I was helping one of my friends get better. He was trying to always play/memorize the "best engine move" and not trying to understand ideas or concepts in specific positions. He lacked the ability to recognize very early mistakes in chess games from his opponents.

    Once I realized that I have a tenancy try to brute force studying and that's usually not the best approach to learning. I'm trying to improve my habits in a similar way that you mentioned in this video.

  16. chess is far better than math to build a brain

  17. those who good with chess easy to learn math but the problem is that they usually dont like remember too much rule on math and they hate solve messy integral (they just like the corcept of math but lazy doing it) Or they born with bad mental math make them slow with number which can take their interest in math .

  18. The Growth Mindset is important for every activity in life.

    For example, last week me and my gf were grinding the paint of wood and repaint the whole apartment. It was both our first time doing any of this.

    We watched an expert on YouTube explain and show it. Made a list of supplies and went to work.

    Our first main objective/question was "What we are doing, does that look like what the expert was doing?"

    Second objective was exploratory, trying out different ways to do it and discover why it works or doesn't work.

    The third was optimization, reflect on the day and think of ways to improve the next day.

    For our first time painting a whole apartment, it looks awesome. (Except for the wood needing an extra layer of glossy paint. We were made to be scared of drippers, so we didn't use nearly enough paint.)

    This mindset makes you acknowledge you need to learn and don't have the "gift of God" to simply just be an expert in anything the first time you try.

    It also acknowledges that if you don't succeed the first time, it's because you need to learn and reflect on what went wrong. It's not because "You simply can't do it and never will be able to".

    Growth mindset makes any failure into the most valuable experience since Failure = Growth.

  19. wish i had you to calc 3 smh my professor made a practical and enjoyable math course seem very tough. Then again it was a 4-week summer session

  20. You just spent your hole life with math, you see everything as math.

    Not a single similarity in my opinion to be honest 😂

  21. You just spent your hole life with math, you see everything as math.

    Not a single similarity in my opinion to be honest 😂

  22. You just spent your hole life with math, you see everything as math.

    Not a single similarity in my opinion to be honest 😂

  23. We have computers which play chess. But I don't think we can have machines which can come up with abstract concepts in math.

  24. I don't think math and chess are similar. In math we develop abstract concepts to solve tough problems. Problems like fermats last theorem required so many abstract concepts. We need a deeper understanding of the structure of the natural numbers when we deal with tough problems like fermats last theorem. We need to develop new concepts frameworks. It is a very creative process. When we try to solve problems like those in math olympiad we can solve them without having a deeper understanding of the structure of natural numbers.

  25. Most surprising thing is chess is not popular in Japan. Fide rating of Japan in chess is very low. Even poor countries like burma where there are no facilities for chess training are better than Japan in chess. Japanese have done great things in mathematics.

  26. This is the first video i have seen from you and I watching this has made me want to learn maths again. I have never been good with maths but recently i have started to develop this interest/intrigue where i feel like i want to know more. I have finally found the place where I can start. Thank you so much. This is really helpful.

  27. Tbh I'm good at math but I really suck at chess. One thing that I really love about math is the fact that it rewards you for going in depth. That's why although I don't study math a lot, I get good grades just because I have interest and curiosity. That's all what math needs. For example if you know understand where a formula comes from, you can derive it on your own in case you forget it. I never remembered that the derivative of sin is cos and the derivative of cos is -sin. The negative sign makes it confusing. All I have to do is draw the sin graph and ask what the derivative would look like. It makes your work a lot easier and rewards you quite a bit. I think this is exactly why although some people study more than me, they don't get the same grades because they have no interest in the subject and don't know how to study it. But I've been playing chess for 8 years or so and I'm only rated 1200 on lichess. Although I like chess , one part of it that I don't like is that no one really cares about going in depth. For example, there's a common rule that you have to control squares in the centre of the board in the openings. I've asked a lot of high rated players ,why exactly they do that and they have zero clue as to why they play those moves. As chess has become more and more analysed, people have started to memorise a lot of things about the game that instantly give them an advantage over someone who didn't. Even if they don't know why they play the moves they play in the openings and certain positions, it works for them. There's very limited raw spontaneous creative play. Players like Mikhail Tal and Bobby Fischer had such beautiful games. The moves were so original. Most of it is lost today. Luckily enough, I'm ony rated 1200 , so at my level, the play is still spontaneous and raw but I can't spend hours and hours memorising things that I don't really understand.

  28. if I am bad at chess, does it implies that I am also will be very bad at math or other science?

  29. Chess has math there are 10^120 possible played games

  30. I have my masters in both mathematics and chess. Prior to the Internet, when books were the primary method of learning both math and chess, around 80% of chess literature sold focused on opening theory, where the primary skill required is memorization. However, chess students would improve their game more by focusing on middle game tactics and endgame technique. Great talk.

  31. Chess just seems so arbitrary compared to math though. Like it's a bunch of rules some people made up and we follow them. Math however has more natural foundations and can describe all sorts of phenomena, although I guess Godel is always lurking

  32. very good – things that apply to learning math also apply to learning chess and learning poker and learning languages. LEarning from people better than you accelerates the learning curve but your brain doesn't make connections without actually doing and if you don't look at what you're doing wrong you're going to be more likely to make the same mistakes. Love that this goes over the different types of study – cause you can easily go too much in one direction end up studying and never playing or playing and never studying.

  33. I wouldn't call rook+pawn vs rook a "small detail". It's a fundamental endgame that all rook endgame theory relies on

  34. the most remarkable similarity between chess and mathematics imo is the simplification of complicated positions (problems) (using previously cooked up simple techniques) into simpler ones to which we already know the solution. This happens a lot in endgames: if you can trade a couple of pieces off the board and you visualise a simple schematic ending at the end of the tunnel then you should go for it.

    The great French mathematician Henri Poincare once stated: a good mathematician is a good chess player and vice versa.

  35. Chess has some irrational rules like: stalemate, castling move, 50 moves draw move etc. I don't like it. Better try to learn and improve at GO. That's the game for mathematicians. BTW, how many different positions on a chess board is possible? I want the exact number, not an estimate 👹

  36. Something in music theory that comes up a lot is the memorisation vs understanding. Relative to maths and chess its unbelievably simple, to be honest, yet the the style of teaching can be toward theory memorisation and a stupid complexity. Intuition comes more from an understanding, then can be applied to practice such as composition and improvisation. Yes, sometimes memorising pieces but its not achieved by head memory, its muscle memory and intuitive…which requires learning all the notes/scales but then forgetting what notes you are using and instead finding patterns of understanding for many musicians. (Or is a mathematician just someone who is best at times tables? Well…no, potentially they can be awful at them but achieve an abstract understanding

    So a lot of chess masters are either excellent at music or maths, right? But that's the pattern recognition i am familiar with.
    As Sun Ra said "learn everything about music theory then forget it all"…well its not forgetting but making it like automatic process, pattern recognition, moving it to intuition, familiarity etc. To calculate everything would be exhausting, but at some point learning to calculate(learn a piece, scale, theory) we did do hard prefrontal cortex stuff but then it moved somewhere else and almost became like a visual language, a physical memory.

  37. My crossover is from Chess to Math. I noticed that the same love for logical reasoning and pattern recognition could be translated in Math.

  38. Hi from France. I am a decent chess player but at 49 I am going back to maths because I want to challenge my brain. I have studied organic chemistry as a student which is different.

  39. Very positive point of view. Interesting to hear your views on this. I find it difficult to get a deep overview of chess, but I take your point about the small details being important, like what to do if you are attacked down a flank. It's a very difficult game to improve at, but, as with most things, persistence is the thing. You get good at what you do a lot.

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