The respective roles of the environment and innate talent have been a recurrent question for research into expertise. The authors investigated markers of talent, environment, and critical period for the acquisition of expert performance in chess. Argentinian chess players (N = 104), ranging from weak amateurs to grandmasters, completed a questionnaire measuring variables including individual and group practice, starting age, and handedness. The study reaffirms the importance of practice for reaching high levels of performance, but it also indicates a large variability: The slower player needed 8 times as much practice to reach master level than the faster player. Additional results show a correlation between skill and starting age and indicate that players are more likely to be mixed-handed than individuals in the general population; however, there was no correlation between handedness and skill within the sample of chess players. Together, these results suggest that practice is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the acquisition of expertise, that some additional factors may differentiate chessplayers and nonchessplayers, and that starting age of practice is important.
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