(CNN)Midway through his mission to learn chess, Tom Vanderbilt found himself facing off against an 8-year-old child.
Vanderbilt had a successful writing career, a college degree and decades of real-world experience. The kid, though, had superior skills. Vanderbilt lost in a few dozen moves.
Defeat, however, couldn't dampen Vanderbilt's enthusiasm for chess, one of five hobbies the best-selling author pursued as research for his new book "Beginners: The Joy and Transformative Power of Lifelong Learning," released January 5 by Knopf.