Nicholas Abbott
3 min readJan 18, 2021

Another even longer hiatus but I finally found time to write again albeit under quite extreme circumstances. I’m currently in considerable pain due to my kidney stone and since I can’t get any sleep and don’t want to get out of bed, here I am.

I did have a bunch of cool ideas that I thought about since my last blog post, but the most recent idea that fascinated me was a something that came up while I was trying to get better at League. Go figure.

I was thinking about how League has only been out for 11 years and that it hasn’t really developed to the point where there is a sequence of skills you can teach/learn to improve “properly" compared to something like math or chess where that is the case.

I also thought about a seperate but related thought about how difficulty is very hard to judge in math when you know the answer. I can’t find where I heard about this and it could very well not be true but it brings up an interesting point. How then do you create a consistently difficult set of problems for students? And while this isn’t strictly relevant to what I want to talk about I couldn’t help but compare it to chess where that sense of difficulty seems a lot more tangible and easy to explain.

Consider chess puzzles which are the math equivalent of questions to students; how can you judge how difficult chess puzzles are? Well for starters all good chess puzzles have a move or combination of moves that can be considered the key move of the variation, and the difficulty of finding that one move is going to be what defines the difficulty of the whole puzzle. But wait I hear you ask, isn’t that just saying the difficulty of chess puzzles is the difficulty of finding one move? How does that make it more tangible and easy to grasp?

Firstly don’t talk during my blog post. More importantly the key difference comes in the set of rules and structures that are generally agreed upon. Chess has a sequence of things that you do to find moves, and how far down the sequence you have to look is a good indicator for the difficulty of finding that one move. One of the first things taught to you when learning chess is that you should always look for checks, captures, and threats. Checks and captures are relatively straight forward, threats considers stuff like hitting an unprotected piece, threatening to mate, stuff like that.

So if the key move of the variation in the puzzle, is a move where you capture something and check him, it’s not gonna be that hard, as that is literally the first thing you should look at. Similarly if the key move is not just one but several moves and they are all quiet moves that don’t threaten anything, capture, or check then you can imagine that would be significantly harder not only to find but to understand. Math doesn’t have this. Math doesn’t have a way you solve every problem regardless of the problem, there are too many branches of math that are way too different to approach them in the same way. Not to mention the fact that chess puzzles tell you instantly whether you are right or wrong, and you are “graded” based on ELO, as opposed to math where generally you are either researching where nobody knows the answer, or you are being tested and you only find out if you were right or wrong after a few days. Can you imagine if when you were trying to learn math instead of never being sure why you can’t get the right answer or if you are even right the question just told you no here’s how you do it? I think it would be immensely beneficial but that is neither here nor there.

All that long winded exposition out of the way, my conjecture is that some tech company should do not only that, but also they should try to construct the questions like you would construct a chess puzzle. In math usually there is a similar concept where one step is the hard part and I’m getting really exhausted writing this so I’m just going to stop it here.

I apologize if the formatting looks weird, this is the first one I did from my phone, as well as taking a year before posting another blog. Hopefully I do it faster next time. Thank you for reading.