Can Everyone Become Talented? – Story of the Polgar Sisters (animated)

Can Everyone Become Talented? – Story of the Polgar Sisters (animated)

Laszlo Polgar, a Hungarian educational psychologist,
was one of the earliest advocates that great performers are made, not born. He had argued, that dedicated practice in
any chosen field, could transform any healthy child into a genius. “Children have extraordinary potential, and
it is up to society to unlock it”, he says. “The problem is that people for some reason,
do not believe it.” “They seem to think that excellence is only
open to others, not themselves.” Back in 1960s, when Polgar was contemplating
his experiment, his idea about talent was considered so absurd, that a local government
official told him to see a psychiatrist to get rid of his delusions. But Laszlo could not be stopped that easily. He realized that the only way to prove his
theory was to test it on his own future children. So he started exchanging letters with a number
of young ladies, in search of a wife. He found a young Ukrainian woman named Klara. Like many at the time, she thought he was
crazy, but they agreed to meet. Amazingly enough, she found his arguments
irresistible and ended up taking part in his bold experiment. In 1969, Klara gave birth to their first daughter,
Susan. Laszlo spent hours trying to decide on the
specific area in which Susan would be groomed for excellence. He needed Susan’s achievements to be so dramatic,
that nobody could question their authenticity. This was the only way to convince people,
that their ideas about innate talent were all wrong. And then it struck him: Chess. Polgar said it was chosen because it was objective. If his child had been trained as an artist
or novelist, people could have argued about whether she was really world class or not. But chess has an objective rating based on
performance, so there is no possibility of an argument. Although Laszlo was only a hobby player, he
read as much as he could on the method of teaching chess. He schooled Susan at home, devoting many hours
a day to chess even before her fourth birthday. He did it playfully, making great drama of
the game, and over time Susan became hooked. By her fifth birthday she had accumulated
hundreds of hours of dedicated practice. A few months later, Laszlo entered Susan in
a local competition. Almost all the girls qualified were twice
her age or older. But she won game after game, her final score
being being 10 to 0. The fact that such a young girl won the championship
was already a sensation, but winning all the games added to people’s amazement. They thought she was born with natural talent
for chess. Now, this is where the story only begins. In 1974, Klara gave birth to a second daughter,
Sofia. Then in 1976, to a third daughter, Judit. Both Sofia and Judit watched their older sister
Susan being trained by their father and wanted to get involved, but Laszlo did not want them
to start too early. Only when they turned five did he start their
training. The girls were not forced to play, so it didn’t
feel like a chore for them. They were actually fascinated by chess and
wanted to play. By the time they had reached adolescence,
all three sisters had accumulated well over ten thousand hours of specialized practice. Let’s take a look at how they performed: At the age of twelve, Susan became a world
champion for girls under sixteen. Less than two years later, she became the
top rated female player in the world. In 1991 she became the first woman player
in history to reach the status of grandmaster. The highest title you can reach in chess. By the end of her career she had won the world
championship for women on four occasions and five chess Olympiads and was the first person
in history to win the chess Triple Crown. Sofia won the girls under fourteen championship. And like her sister, she would win many gold
medals from chess Olympiads and other prestigious championships aswell. But her most extraordinary achievement is
now known as the “Sack of Rome”. She stunned the chess world by winning eight
straight games against many of the best grandmasters. She was just 14 at the time. Her performance at that tournament was rated
as the fifth greatest in chess history. After many record breaking victories in her
early teens, Judit became the youngest grandmaster ever – male of female – in history, at the
age of fifteen. She has been the number one female chess player
in the world for well over a decade. Over the course of her career, she had victories
over almost every top player in the world and is universally considered to be the greatest
female player of all time. The story of the Polgar sisters provides evidence
for Laszlo’s theory of dedicated practice. But the public was sure that, the sisters’
success, was a consequence of unique talent. Susan was even described by the local newspaper
as a child prodigy. But this is an iceberg illusion. We only see the fruits of labor, but not the
hard work behind the curtains. As Laszlo puts it: “If they had seen the painfully
slow progress, the inch by inch improvements, they would not have been so quick to call
Susan a prodigy.” Also neither Laszlo nor Klara could have passed
on any innate chess ability to their daughters. Laszlo was only a mediocre player, and Klara
had demonstrated no chess ability at all. The sisters’ success resulted only from their
years of intensive work. At the same time, it must be noted that the
sisters did not achieve equal levels of success. The middle sister, Sophia, did not reach the
heights of her two sisters and everyone seems to agree that she was the least committed. Although she did become the sixth ranked woman
in the world. Even Susan said that Sophia “was lazy”. And Sophia herself agreed, that she would
give up easier than Judit and never worked as hard as she did. Likewise, everyone seems to agree that Judit,
who rose highest, worked hardest and practiced the most. So here’s a question for you: Does everyone have the capacity to become
a talented individual? The sisters would say that yes, any healthy
person can become an expert in their own domain, if they put in enough dedicated practice. Their own stories have convinced them that
their father was right about talent. As Susan put it: “My father believes that
innate talent is nothing, that success is 99 percent hard work.” “I agree with him.” Thanks for watching till the very end. I hope you found the story of the Polgar sisters
as fascinating as I did. If you enjoyed the video, don’t forget to
press that like button. And if you’re new to the channel, make sure
to subscribe. Together we’ll become better than yesterday.


100 thoughts on “Can Everyone Become Talented? – Story of the Polgar Sisters (animated)”

  • I actually met Susan Polgar when I was a kid. My dad was a chess player, and he introduced me to her at the scholastic world championship. She was very quiet, but sweet and there was no doubt she’s one of the smartest people I’ll likely ever meet in my life.

  • This “test” is retarded he should have had a random sample like head start studies which do the same thing with random kids the results are predictable some kids are smart others aren’t this guy was delusional and his “test” fell victim to selection bias

  • Interesting he chose chess. Why not running or tennis or even pole vault. The answer is because what Polgart believed is only partly true. Natural ability plays a major part in many areas of life. What if the girl was born stupid. Then what? She would not have had the mental ability to perform effectively.

  • I think "talent" does exist in some fields. What about more fragile things like sports? You need to be born healthy enough, always eating the best diet, training hard but not too hard that you injure yourself. Some things involve so much more than just practicing. But I agree that practice does matter a lot.

  • This doesn't prove anything about whether or not talent is a product of hard work, it shows that raising a child to do a specific task can rewire their brain to do that specific task extraordinarily well. It has profound implications that anyone could likely excel in many fields if they were raised correctly and that brain plasticity is amazing, but it doesn't necessarily prove that anyone can become good at anything just by putting in the work. It is still possible that natural talent significantly affects the outcome, or that other factors (such as genetic aspects of personality like this family's obvious obsessive tendencies) are just as much at fault.
    It also raises the question of whether or not a child not specifically raised for something would follow some biological default mindset that would be influenced heavily by genetics, or if their personality leads them to develop different skills in their early childhood that rewire their brains in more generalized ways. That would be an interesting explanation for vast differences in IQ's that are linked strongly to genetics, that isn't strictly IQ or other measures of intelligence being determined by genetics directly.
    From personal experience though, a lot of the things I'm good at come naturally to me. There are some things (like math) that I hate, would never choose to do, and have never put any effort in, but I excel in them anyway. I believe this is likely genetic, but obviously I would be better if I practiced. This does make me wonder if the reason I'm good at those things is practicing an analogous activity or similar way of thinking when I was little.
    TL;DR This doesn't prove what it claims to for a variety of reasons, but has really interesting and important results anyway

  • if all 3 sisters would've been great in 3 separate fields, the would would've still made stupid arguments… about talents… because they want an excuse of why they can't be great…

  • What bothers me here is that she only won the GIRLS championship. Why is chess split between men and women in the first place? Where is the data to show her performance against everyone, and not just girls?

  • YourNickIsTaken says:

    The goal of the education is to reach such a high level neurotic stress on the student that they could carry on without becoming a rack.
    Topical Hungarian attitude.
    Unfortunately some teachers do it so hard whole classes end up the school with serious burnouts.

  • In his book, Laszlo Polgar explains that his daughter Susan got interested in chess while very little, when the game fell on her feet one day. Her younger sisters got hooked watching Susan play (sibling rivalry is a powerful instrument).
    Women chess didn't exist in their country at the time, from what I remember. They first had to prove they could win before officials let them even compete. Just putting it out there for those who believe they didn't face enough competition !
    Despite his 3 kids proving his educational theories, Laszlo weren't used by educators or schools.

  • Are there still people out there who dont believe that getting good at something requires time? Hows school treating you with your grades then? lmao.

  • Bookworm_of_Heaven says:

    I actually didn’t know that people really think that talents are born and not the result of a lot of practice and determination. Like, as a joke, sure, but I didn’t think some people are serious when they say that.

    That’s creepy.

  • Blood Bath and Beyond - Pop Goes Metal Covers says:

    People use "natural talent" as a crutch to justify their own failures. "Others are more successful than me because I never discovered what I'm naturally good at. Nothing to do with my lack of extreme effort, of course!"

  • The experiment would have been better if he had trained one of them in a different area of expertise, thus ensuring that they all were not, in fact, prodigies.

  • BULLSHIT ! ! !
    If you think this is a legitimate experiment, you are FUCKING STUPID.
    The sample space is only 1 (one) COUPLE with 3 (three) KIDS, let alone having a CONTROL GROUP !
    Who knows how many parents tried the same thing and miserably FAILED??? You only hear the one that succeeded and now you are sure this method works???
    I wonder how good they would become, if they started learning chess at the age of 20 but also trained AS MUCH. Early education and training helps.
    Genetics is also a contributing factor: you cannot take a cat and train it so damn hard for chess and expect it to be as good as a GM.
    Their parents being bad at chess does not mean they did not pass "good" genes for chess; it could possibly be that the parents lacked training at the early ages.
    In fact, it is likely that the father is an intelligent person, given that he is a psychologist.
    Like it or not, intelligence puts a lot of barriers. You cannot take any kid and train them for an arbitrary task and expect them to master it.
    If this method worked, why don't we just replicate the experiment, reproduce the results and MASS PRODUCE so many good chess players???
    Videos like this appeal to people because it gives them hope that they can achieve whatever they want.
    This is pure POPULISM on the BETTER THAN YESTERDAY's side !
    Just do whatever floats your boat and stop believing in fake science like this one with non-credible "experiments".

  • Anthony Hathaway says:

    I basically discovered this as a truth when I was about 10 years old and I told my brother what I had discovered. He, being a prided child in the family, of course, dismissed the notion.

  • If genetics had nothing to do with it, then he would have been able to teach a young chimpanzee to be just as good at chess as his own daughters.

  • So nobody else worked as hard as these kids so these kids became the best, is this what you are saying? Hard work can get you a far ahead but cannot get you to top, because at the top, everyone works hard, so talent makes the difference there.

  • I can't imagine why, but you left out the part about the Father being a communist and Particularly trying to defy the known fact of IQ because the communists believe that all people are born equal (equality movement) and that it ALL societies create an oppression that makes people bad. A completely stupid idea that his work did nothing to prove. A high IQ Ashkenazim Jew (I'm Jewish folks, not dissin' my peeps, just telling facts here) focuses his naturally high IQ children to play the PINNACLE of GAME THEORY at the time, and they do really well. It does more to prove that the kids had inborn innate skills than anything else in my mind.

  • You're completely changing the argument. It was not about innate talent in a specific field, it was about IQ vs. Societal influence. Her Father was a marxist.

  • Sofia – considered the least talented out of her sisters. Also Sofia – responsible for “The Sack Of Rome” 5th greatest performance in chess history. Me – “Okay….”

  • And yet… No matter how hard Forest Gump worked, he could NEVER beat any of these girls at chess… Ping pong, though…
    Success is 99% hard work. That is obvious. That doesn't negate that people ARE born with differing natural abilities. You can work hard to be good at something, and then someone else who works half as hard as you becomes twice as good… Are we really going to throw out one stupid myth in favor of another?

  • I remember documentary about Oscar de la Hoya, his father trained him every single day since he was 4, then Nurmagomedov – the same story… And every single world class champ…

  • I think there's still a genetic factor. We have predispositions towards certain things and "talent" is really just the opportunity to improve with enough work rather than born ability. I say this because there are many people who spend ridiculous amounts of time on something but still have to watch people who put a fraction of the work in surpass them. It's especially obvious in gaming, where if you're not made to play you can have a beginner kick your ass after a few hours. Even if you disagree with that, we have to ask: Are people born motivated or lazy? What if all 3 girls inherited the motivated gene but others who also wish to improve can't because the lazy gene takes over?

  • The experiment (quite costly if it's the whole purpose of a family and three children's careers) is able to prove that training improves skill, but I think that is a socially accepted fact given that about 1/3 of modern life is spent on education. It does not prove the absence of talent. In order to do that, you would need children from different backgrounds train something with exactly the same amount of effort (hard to measure), and end up improving at exactly the same rate.
    Given that CPUs produced at the same assembly line may differ in quality, it's actually hard for me to imagine people being born exactly the same. So it would be interesting if a study shows this is the case.

  • The thing is that this is not science, this is anecdotes proving what the researcher already believed. There is no scientific report, just a story that he told that proved his point.

    I could just as easily prove him wrong. Why did he not train them to be basketball players? They should be able to surpass the men in the NBA with his logic.

    There is absolutely a thing like talent, swedish swimmer Sarah Sjöström won the European championships in swimming when she was 14, she did not train that hard, just had fun and was insanely talented.

    It is absolutely important with hard work, but you have to define in what fields. As usual, the answer is never this black or white, there is talent and there is hard work, depending on your field the balance between the two vary.

  • What if his theory was just a piece of the whole? What if talent is actually an individual's ability to observe, process information, and react accordingly to specific tasks? It feels as if this video is just made to make people feel better? You can have a hardworking genius, a lazy genius, a hardworking fool, or a lazy fool. Some people will advance more rapidly than others. The same can be said about "the best in the world" record holders. If we give everyone in the world the same training and hours spent, there's a possibility that a starving child from a poor country is actually "the best." You can become more talented through training and may even be labeled the best, but we'll never know since not everyone will be given the same opportunities. In the end, a clear line divides the hardworking and the innately talented.

  • 100% can confirm in field of mathematics. I am on my last year pursuing master's in applied mathematics, and I haven't seen anything that looks like a talent for math. I've seen really good students, and really bad, but the only difference between them was the amount of their knowledge and practice. I've seen that in every mathematical problem, if student knows necessary theorems, and has some practice in using that theorems, then he/she solves the problem. If he/she doesn't know necessary theorems, he/she has no chance of solving it. Whenever I saw something that looked like a talent, when I asked that student "how did you solve this task so easily?", the answer was "I just remember the solution, because I've solved this task before".

  • Good video but… was that all there is to it? It didn't really answer the question asked. It was like a glimpse at an example and the end. A bad one at that relative to the question because the answer is: No.

    Of course I could elaborate but hanging to the theme of the video let's just end this discussion at the first baby step.

  • Idk about this completely. One of the hardest working individuals I have ever known struggled to get his Bachelor's in physics where he eventually gave up and became a teacher. He said people like me deterred him since I'd get straight A's with a fraction of the effort. I don't think he could have worked any harder.

  • There are people out there that thought they had zero talent but I for one believe that their talent is to learn the talents of others, to not be restricted by one ability they are good at but to learn multiple ones as life goes on.

  • Gamerlord Highdefinition says:

    Talent exist, no questions bout that. The fact that she could defeat people with more hours than himself prove it. How can a gilr with 1000hrs defeat someone with 10.000hrs? In those 1000 hrs she gets more experience and gain more awknoledgment than the other with 10.000. And everybody knows somebody that it's just natural for them do certain things, even with no practice at all they just perform better. Somebody without talent and a lot a hard work will never surpass someone talented that train a quarter o even half the first one do.

  • I understand and agree with the notion whole heartedly but my parents don't….and so I regret not becoming an artist or an astronaut for the lack of grooming in my childhood….and now I want my little sister to be groomed cause she is at the right age yet my parents say "she is too YOUNG for this or that" !!!! sigh it pains me to see how she wants to be taught many things but denied by the elders underestimating her capabilities……she isn't my child so I can't influence her much and I don't have a good relationship with my parents either; yes, you guessed it right, because my ideology and philosophy is so much different from theirs that we can't mix at all, like oil and water….Sometimes I wonder why I didn't adopt their ideology and way of thinking and the answer lies in YouTube, yes I know, it sounds cringy but yes thanks to channels like your's I developed the different and better way of seeing the world.

  • Reminds me of Stuart Mill, his father claimed he could make his son a genius and he did, he made a depressed genius but a genius overall. I believe children has unbelievable potential but for it to be reveal it there are sacrifice to make.

  • Wojciech Mazurek says:

    Hard work is 99% and the remaining 1% is "talent" which is combination of: intelligence, temper, conscientiousness, good relationships and money as well as simply luck, while people think that "talent" (which they think is some magical trait of a person) is about 90% of success.

  • To be fair, innate talent plays a factor in success. Needless to say, I know this video isn’t trying to say the opposite. Unfortunately, a lot of people in positions of instruction fail to see it as just a factor and lean on it as an excuse for their shortcomings in nourishing potential. From fitness instructors who imply you have bad genetics to university professors who think their students are dumb they’re all guilty of this. I think this sort of thinking, which is a defense mechanism for the unknown, is the main reason for the existence of “it’s all talent” as a platitude.

  • Zachary Hockett says:

    Genetics sets the range of ability and behavior determines where in that range you find yourself. You can't be greater then your genetics but if you apply yourself fully you will be greater then you imagine

  • chess brillance says:

    The William's sisters storie is quite similar. Who ever dedicate all his énergie to make his childrend good at something will succeed. Most parents don't care about this.

  • To really put this hypothesis to the test, he should have had children with a lot of women with different backgrounds. Then give the same training to all the kids.

  • Sage Lionel D'souza says:

    Damn… I was thinking to do a similar thing.. I know and have noted what all mistakes i have made in my life.. Also i have kept a diary…

    When i have babies, (a guy to be precise)… I'll make him the better version of me… I'll teach him every positive trait i have and also fix my negative traits for him…

    I'll make him epitome of confidence, teach him business at a very young age.. Teach him to be social perfection, teach him the ways to get a girl… Make him travel alone and find a partner…

    Its like I have planned out his entire life by now…

    Just to show that yes, we can indeed create geniuses by dedication…

    (I didn't knew some experiment like the one in video has happened before)

  • Hard work is a main contributing factor regarding talent, but, some people are born wetter suited to excel. I’m sure there must have been a basketball player who practiced just as hard, if not harder than Michael Jordan but he’s the best of all time. Hard work plus genetics plus competitive will = greatness.

  • This video would be 100% true if everyone was born the exact same and nobody had different genes, however its a fact that some things are genetic and people will be better at some things than others naturally. This is not just an excuse for lazy people to complain about people better than them, myself and many people i know can spend thousands of hours actively trying to improve at a skill while seeing others do better with much less time and effort put into the same task. If you took 1 person who was a midget and another person who was very tall and trained both to the same skill level, obviously the taller person would do better, through no fault of the shorter person. This video is misinformation based on an assumption that is blatantly false.

  • We often hear about people who excel at their sport starting at an early age. But what about those who started late? Isn't there anyone who started something in his adulthood and made it to the top? Please bring us some stories of those rare jades as well. I'd really be grateful to you because so far I haven't come across anyone who started at their 20s or 30s or… and became a legend. I'm sure those peope will inspire your viewers including me to lot as most of usdon't start that early in life.

  • The thing is that imo it is possible to become world champion level talented at anything only when you start very early from childhood, natural talent is not that important but grooming surely is, you can't become a world champion at anything(lets say chess) if you start around 18-20. Surely you can become good enough but never "the best" in the world.

  • Selection bias – the family members are all selected for their high IQ. No doubt their practice was huge important, but they probably had a strong IQ advantage over the average. So no, you cannot simply train anyone to be a chess master. Redo the study and give equalized practice to non-siblings of differing IQ.

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