Friday, June 22, 2007

Health care for chess players

By Frank "Boy" Pestaño

VICTOR Korchnoi ,76, is the oldest active grandmaster in the circuit today and is the 2006 World Senior Champion. He owes his longevity to physical exercise and the proper diet.

Recently I received an e-mail from lawyer-chessplayer Ed Mayol which I would like to share with my readers who would like to improve their level of play.

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“If the mind is tired, exercise the body. If the body is tired, exercise the mind. This is the balance we all need. If we always sit in the office, we would feel sleepy, and even suffer back pains etc. There is a need to stand up and walk once in a while.

I remember when Spassky played Fischer in 1972, it was said that he played tennis in between games. That’s a good diversion, as he would sweat it out in the tennis court, relieving his stress, especially against a difficult opponent as Bobby.

Also in Gary Kasparov’s preparation against Deep Junior, I saw him working out with his canoe on the beach. Again, another invigorating exercise.

Although many might disagree, but drinking beer or any alcoholic drink can destroy many cells in our brains.”

In addition Ed sent me another e-mail about the importance of diet in one’s play.

“You see, my elder brother, about two years ago, told me about a study featured in the National Geographic regarding two grandmasters in chess. Before their scheduled match (probably a week before), one was given a strict fish and vegetable diet.

The other one ate a lot of meat, especially pork, with its (tasty yet, deadly) fat.

The result? The one who ate meat, and especially the fat in pork, tended to get sleepy all the time during the actual tournament. The other one with the strict fish and vegetable diet was very alert and could very well concentrate with his game. And you know the result, even if these grandmasters have of more or less the same rating.”

There was also a study in a women’s magazine that mature/old people tend to be mentally sharp during the day, compared to the young ones. This is maybe because mature people sleep and wake up early. Whereas the younger ones sleep late, watch TV, enjoy the nightlife etc. So they are too lazy to wake up early.

Also, when it comes to coffee, the advertisements only want to emphasize on the benefits like the antioxidants in it, but they hide the fact that strong caffeine can cause abnormal palpitation of the heart, which leads to heart problems. Yes, coffee keeps (the chess player and everybody) alert, but it has its risks. Maybe green and white tea has less caffeine, and can also burn the fat in our body, making it a better alternative.”

I remember that prior to the World Chess Olympiad in 1992, the Philippine teams were secluded in Baguio City and had a full time physical fitness trainer and a consulting nutritionist. Also, the Vietnamese chess players practice Chinese shadow boxing as part of their preparation prior to a major tournament like the Southeast Asian Games.

All the top players like Fischer, Anand, Kramnik and Topalov, to mention a few, have a physical exercise regimen and constantly controlled their weight. There is a saying in Latin “Mens sana in corpore sano”—a sound mind is a sound body.

It has been estimated that a single game of top level chess, which sometimes last six hours, takes as much energy as a 10-round boxing match. No wonder that during the match between Karpov vs. Kasparov in 1984-85, Karpov lost 22 pounds and the match was aborted.

Cepca news. Our tournament for June is this coming Sunday at Deep Blue Woodpushers Café at SM City, 2nd floor at 130 pm.

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