Learning thru Osmosis

According to an online dictionary, osmosis means

  1. a process by which molecules of a solvent tend to pass through a semipermeable membrane from a less concentrated solution into a more concentrated one, thus equalizing the concentrations on each side of the membrane.
  2. the process of gradual or unconscious assimilation of ideas, knowledge, etc.

I am referring to the second definition. You can learn something thru immersion and exposure.

Today, I visited ICE master class session by IM Alex Wohl.It just resonated with me when Peter Long was explaining to some parents how chess players being in a group together can challenge each other to attain greater heights.

This was surprising to me because I’ve always thought of chess  as solitary effort with a coach (or two or three) and parent(s) as support.

Learning thru osmosis is something I have long believed worked in other non-chess areas like programming. The invaluable things I’ve learnt being up close to talented programmers taught me things I never would have learnt in a class or any training session. And it doesn’t mean that there is direct teaching taking place either.

I remember once a programmer friend called me over and showed me how he was making the cursor spin. Mind you this was the era of DOS and changing the normal operating system blinking cursor to a spinning one was unheard of. It showed me what was possible. My friend never showed me how he did it but I made an effort to learn it myself. My limited perception of the impossible was changed forever.

Another  proof of “learning thru osmosis” I see is in Starcraft. Starcraft brings in serious money from sponsors and part of that money besides coaches, food, uniforms, etc also pay for   “team houses”. The close proximity of like minded people results in effective exchange of ideas, strategies and friendly competitive atmosphere makes everyone push each others skills to the next level. Everyone benefits and it doesn’t matter if you are the weaker or the stronger of the players.

Players believe in this. So do sponsors. Otherwise there’d be no money channeled in to this.

Can chess come anywhere near the level as this? The commitment is great. They have moved out from their homes  to stay with other players long term to train, to learn and to ultimately benefit from each other.

Chess players meeting once in a while to compare notes, periodic sparring session and brief centralised training  can never compare with this.

Will chess ever have serious investment like time and money into actual places to house professional players in one place like Starcraft?

The answer is most likely never. However if chess goes in this direction but adopts similiar albeit less serious set ups like team houses, there can still be benefits reaped from learning thru osmosis.

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