My Brilliant Brain: Make Me A Genius

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Susan Polgar is the world’s first female chess grandmaster. But she wasn’t born with her brilliant brain – it was created by the unique experiment that dominated her childhood. From the age of four her father trained her for up to six hours a day at chess alone.

Growing up in the early 1970s, no woman had ever held the title of chess grandmaster. It was widely believed that female brains weren’t wired with adequate spatial awareness for the game. Nowadays, memory and pattern recognition are recognised as they key areas used by experts in all fields – everyone from waiters to fire-fighters.
Neither of these however, has the trained memory of a chess grandmaster. Able to recreate a chess game glimpsed only on the side of a passing van, Susan’s true genius is revealed when she plays an entire chess match over a mobile phone. Her opponent can see the board but she can’t, instead using her memory to imagine the game.

My Brilliant Brain: Make Me A Genius, 8.5 out of 10 based on 30 ratings

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  • Malcolm Duff

    Well this is going to be a rant. Problem is, who exactly am I ranting to?
    I have no idea. So if it is not you please forward this to whomsoever you feel most appropriate. Ta.

    Nona Gaprindashvili, born May 3, 1941, is a Georgian chess player, the sixth woman world chess champion (1962–1978), and first female Grandmaster.

    Born in Zugdidi, Georgia (then part of the Soviet Union), she was the strongest female player of her generation. In 1978 Gaprindashvili became the first woman to be awarded the Grandmaster title.

    Maia Chiburdanide, Jan. 17, 1961 is a Georgian chess grandmaster, and the seventh (and youngest) women’s world chess champion. She was awarded the grandmaster title in 1984.

    Susan Polgar was the first woman to earn the title of grandmaster in regular competition.

    Yep, give you that. She was the women’s world chess champion from 1996 to 1999.

    This documentary makes much of the statement; “Susan Polgar is the world’s first female chess grandmaster.” Yet she never was. Pretty shabby, eh? Why can’t these people either check their facts or change their sentences so that those of us without access to accurate information are not misinformed?

    It’s a mystery. (Copyright – Toyah Willcox).

    Oh and what about little Judit Polgar? She regularly knocked her elder sister into a cocked hat – whatever the hell that is. She – Judit, that is, actually beat some of those (male) Grandmasters that are quoted in this documentary as “Susan has played against….”. Susan was forever thrashed by these male Grandmasters. Judit was not. Still isn’t.

    As to the ridiculous statement that “Susan is the living proof that any ordinary child can be turned into a genius”. Well, I really don’t know where to start here. How about facts? Yes, always a good place to start. How do we know that she was “ordinary”? I mean, perhaps she was already a genius before she embarked on her admittedly amazing journey. Was she tested? For genius – prior to the training that her father imposed? Was she? By whom? Published where? Peer reviewed by who?

    So knock it off will you? Oh, and while you’re about it, lose the music. It just panders to the idiots. I don’t know why a creator of a science or any other type of documentary – these days – think they need a bunch of violas going off in the background. Never nailed an argument for me. Did it you?

    For example; “Oh, I’m not sure whether there was or was not a big bang that resulted in the creation of our universe – wait a minute, they have violas! So there must have been.”

    Mind you, I’m not saying that I would not like to see Susan and Judit Polgar in the same room.
    Toyah Willcox is also more than welcome if tour dates permit – but then I am just a mere bloke who has beaten the New Zealand Chess Champion, the British Chess Champion, an International Master (not Grand, I’ll grant you), An adviser/trainer to Korchnoi and Karpov, and last but yep not least, a second to Kasparov.

    Thanks for giving me this opportunity to rant.
    One of my favourite hobbies.

    Bye – and be careful out there – the lunatic you meet may be me…

    • Hari

      Wish more people had your attitude (and experience). Film is always about creating an effect. Documentaries are not real, either. Just look at Michael Moore. Critical thinking is in short supply; mindless entertainment rules.

    • sevin

      nice rant…i listened to it

    • Anonymous

      Thank you for your well reasoned rant.  At sixty-four years of age I think of myself as a former chess player.  I have not played in a rated tournament for many years and my skills have seriously eroded due to the rust of inactivity and aging.  Many years ago when I was an aspiring grandmaster ;0)  (with immense effort, concentration, study, and gallons of coffee I clawed my way to the bottom rung of national class A. lol)  My “brush with greatness” included playing and losing to three or four master players in simultaneous exhibitions and giving a young man named Murray Campbell the occasional ride home from our club.  He was a U of Alberta student who in later years was one of the driving forces behind Deep Thought and Deep Blue, the computer program which ultimately defeated Gary Kasparov, the world chess champion.  There are two documentaries on this site concerning these events and I highly recommend them.
       
      Far too much is made of Ms. Polgars game played over a mobile phone.  This is called “blindfold chess” and has been done tens of thousands of times, often multiple games simultaneously.

      This is not intended to diminish anyone’s opinion of Susan Polgars immense talent, but rather to point out the flaws in this poorly researched documentary.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you for your well reasoned rant.  At sixty-four years of age I think of myself as a former chess player.  I have not played in a rated tournament for many years and my skills have seriously eroded due to the rust of inactivity and aging.  Many years ago when I was an aspiring grandmaster ;0)  (with immense effort, concentration, study, and gallons of coffee I clawed my way to the bottom rung of national class A. lol)  My “brush with greatness” included playing and losing to three or four master players in simultaneous exhibitions and giving a young man named Murray Campbell the occasional ride home from our club.  He was a U of Alberta student who in later years was one of the driving forces behind Deep Thought and Deep Blue, the computer program which ultimately defeated Gary Kasparov, the world chess champion.  There are two documentaries on this site concerning these events and I highly recommend them.
       
      Far too much is made of Ms. Polgars game played over a mobile phone.  This is called “blindfold chess” and has been done tens of thousands of times, often multiple games simultaneously.

      This is not intended to diminish anyone’s opinion of Susan Polgars immense talent, but rather to point out the flaws in this poorly researched documentary.

    • Contrablue

       Agreed that the Polgar sisters are most unlikely the product solely of their father’s tutelage.  They’re also their father’s spawn.

      A vast literature on human cognition exists and if I might be so bold as to sum it up:   intelligence is 50% made, and 50% born.

      Having said that, there is scope for the rare person of modest genetic inheritance to develop an extraordinary talent through devoted training and long practice.  A few such people have appeared in videos and science-oriented television shows.  They are noteworthy because their exceptional tolerance for focused work effort is more rare than genius itself.

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    I think this is a real great blog article. Great.

  • Eltopo90125

    MD is right about the music as well as the rest of this doc…

    The music is grating and a distraction.

    Made for a tough doc to get through.