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Chess diet: eat or play? E-mail
Written by Yury Markushin   
Thursday, 21 January 2010 22:19
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chess dietChess is a very complex sport requiring a player to be in great mental and physical shape in order to perform well in rough competition. Many factors influence player's performance, but food intake before and during the competition plays significant role in any chess event. Food intake before and during chess tournament significantly affects player's performance. In particular, nutrition impacts player's psychological state, alertness, memory recall and overall brain performance - the most crucial characteristics for chess. Therefore, chess players should develop individual diet to fit their needs.

Food intake before the chess game is absolutely crucial factor of a competition. All food consumed approximately two hours before the round kicks off will affect how well player feels and performs during the game. Eating too much, too little or simply a wrong type of food can significantly low down player’s position in tournament standing. Nearly all nutrition professionals agree that food rich with fish oil is especially beneficial for chess player’s brain. Skolnik, a professional sport’s nutritionist, states that “there is an of the chart upward trend in use of fish oil by athletes and non-athletes alike” (Klein, Grandmaster Diet, 21).

It’s believed that Japanese have higher IQs because of regular seafood consumption, rich with food oils (Klein, Grandmaster Diet, 21). Kelly A. Hammer, healthy food expert, recommends a high protein and high carbonate meals before the chess competition begins. “The carbs will help sustain the focus, while the protein will add to the needed nutrients for brain connections”, Hammer says (Klein, Grandmaster Diet, 21). In order to get enough carbohydrates it’s suggested to consume plenty of fruits and vegetables, potatoes and rice. Food like eggs, chicken, nuts, milk and soy are high on proteins and recommended as a part of chess diet by many nutrition professionals. From my personal experience consuming foods like pork, beef, hamburgers and French fries is not recommended before any intensive mental or physical task. Digesting of these foods takes up a lot of energy making it almost impossible to concentrate and stay focused for long periods of time. After eating these foods a player would be more likely to take a nap, than to play a tough game. As a rule of thumb, consuming too much of any food before a chess game isn’t a good idea because player’s stomach will do all the work and not his brain.

Not eating enough is also a bad practice. Grandmaster Evgeny Bareev advised to be hungry before the game: “Your head is really clear, you can calculate variations and you are aggressive” – he said. Many players including myself tried it and it’s actually not a very good idea. Grandmaster Gregory Serper comments that it’s almost impossible to stay even close to focused when hungry: “all you can think is food” (Klein, Grandmaster Diet, 22). There should be a compromise between how much food is too much and how much is not enough in order to play best possible chess. This balance is individual thing which needs to be developed by the player himself or with a help of qualified nutritionist.

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Last Updated on Thursday, 21 January 2010 22:33


0 #10 mohammed 2014-11-03 04:56
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+2 #9 Yury 2011-12-16 12:29
I will try to address one of the future articles to this theme:)
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+7 #8 mjbl 2011-12-14 09:42
can you write about foods in a specific order mentioning us what to eat in dinner,breakfas t and lunch
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+4 #7 george2009 2010-02-25 08:34
excellent article
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-2 #6 george2009 2010-02-25 08:31
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0 #5 george2009 2010-02-25 08:30
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0 #4 Yury 2010-02-08 20:10
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+1 #3 george2009 2010-02-07 06:52
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+6 #2 Yury 2010-01-27 00:10
Yes Adam, you're right about that: taking an exam or playing chess are somewhat related, since you have to solve immediate problems over the table in some way or another.
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+6 #1 Adam 2010-01-25 23:18
Excellent article, the same applies to eating before a test or exam I think, or competing in any other sport besides of course the sport of organized starvation. ;-)
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