In Chapter 2 ("Psycho-Logics") of the delightful Chess for Zebras GM Jonathan Rowson discusses "The Importance of Not Having a Clue":

In my late teens, rated around 2400, I had the impression that grandmasters, especially stronger ones, knew certain things. I really thought if you showed them a position they would be able to say, with conviction: 'this one is winning', 'this one is drawn', etc. Moreover, I thought that they would be able to explain their judgements in a way that would enlighten me.

But chess is so much more complicated than that! After describing his own loss of certainty Rowson observes:

... the stronger a player is, the more likely he is to begin by saying "I don't know" when you ask him what is happening in a position!

He concludes this section with:

Strong players have a fuller sense of how difficult chess is because after moving through successive stages of understanding they gradually learn that ultimately there is no end in sight. From my own experience, I know that even now, around number 150 in the world, I feel that in many positions I am seeing only a fraction of what there is to be seen. Of course we can approach the truth, and strive to understand the game more deeply, but we have limitations. Therefore I would advise all players: be confident in your own abilities and your capacity to defeat the opponent, but temper this confidence with humility towards the game as a whole. ...

Likewise, as I often tend to say, in life ...

(cf. CaissicMetaphors (8 Jan 2000), DeliberateOpinion (14 Oct 2001), NunnSoEver (20 Jun 2003), PropheticUncertaintyPrinciple (29 May 2004), TeachingZebras (28 Dec 2005), ...)

TopicRecreation - TopicThinking - TopicLife - 2006-03-19

(correlates: ThreePhoneCalls, CloserToFine, TeachingZebras, ...)