How a regular person like you can defeat the greatest chess player alive

What are the limits of self-improvement – and of the human mind?

Here is a Wall St. Journal feature about a very intelligent young man who went about testing the limits of that question. Max Deutsch is a casual amateur chess player who used AI to try to train his mind to play chess at the highest level. His goal was to train for one month, and then defeat the top chess-player in the world, Magnus Carlsen.

In the Hollywood version of this, Carlson is probably some evil guy who gets his comeuppance at the hands of this young upstart. In the real-life version, Carlsen is pretty likeable and accommodating – and he wipes the floor with this guy.

If you’re into chess the move-by-move visuals that go along with the story are pretty neat. Also if you know anything about chess you will also realize that the writer’s claim that Deutsch was “winning” the match early on, although it adds dramatic tension to the story, is a stretch. Stillit makes some pretty interesting statements about the capacity of the human mind.

(If you don’t have a WSJ subscription, or if you are in TLDR mode, you can watch a video summary of the story.)