How to Not Be a Fat Chessplayer

Imagine it is round one of an open tournament and you’ve just checked the pairings…

Seeing that you’re against Joey Shabadoo on board 23, you begin to go in that direction and as you approach the table, you see him sitting at the board.

You’ve never heard of or even seen this guy before, so you can only judge him based on the deductions you make upon seeing his appearance.

Scenario 1:

Sitting in the chair is a guy in his late twenties, wearing a t-shirt and jeans and filling in his scoresheet with an air of “let’s get to work” in his manner.

He has a slightly muscled body, yet not over the top and seems in good shape.

There is a small trace of sweat on his forehead, perhaps from a morning cardio session and his body movements are quick and decisive as he places his pen on the table, reaches down opens his backpack and retrieves a bottle of water.

He opens it, takes a sip and looks up at you.

“Ahh you’re my opponent” he says, reaching out his hand.

Scenario 2:

Sitting in the chair is a guy in his late twenties, wearing a large loosely fitting t-shirt and jeans, who is now yawning as he fills in his scoresheet with a look of “I should have gotten more sleep last night” in his manner.

He has a slightly chubby face including the classic “double-chin”, a big belly which bulges through his t-shirt and would surely have had to squeeze into the chair he’s sitting in.

There is a small trace of sweat on his forehead and you ask yourself “Is filling in the scoresheet really so laborious?”.

His movements are somewhat slow and unsure as he reaches into his backpack and retrieves a 600ml bottle of Coca-Cola.

He opens it, takes a sip and looks up to you.

“Ahh you’re my opponent” he says, reaching out his hand.

My question to you is:

Which guy would you feel more confidence in beating?

If you are a guy from scenario 2, this article will aim to give you the kick in the ass you need.

No judgement from me though, I’ve been there.

I’ll only think you’re a no-hoper if you do nothing about it, but cry and make excuses.

Let me share a story first.

A few years ago I asked a friend of mine who he considered to be the most talented chessplayers he’d met.

This friend is a strong player of around 2300 ELO and has a fairly wise and thoughtful personality.

In response to my question, he quickly reeled off a few names I’d expected and then said a name which stopped me cold.

He’d mentioned a guy who I had personally played many times and who always seemed to blunder into tactics, even when he had a good position…every time!

“Nah mate, I said MOST talented” I said, but he insisted.

“He has a great intuitive feel for the game and good positional sense. The reason he’s weak is because he’s so fat” said my friend.

I reflected for a moment and had to agree that this guy did play decent openings and seemed capable of creating some threats in the middlegame…even against a guy rated 500+ points above him like me.

His Achilles heel was his tactical ability, and his tactical ability is directly “dumbed down” by his level of fitness and his current physical shape.

A low level of fitness and exercise means less oxygen going into the brain, which means slower and more sluggish thoughts and for chessplayers…a lower level of tactical alertness.

Its like everything in the body is slowed down in order to provide more energy for the increasingly difficult motor functions, digestion of unhealthy/too much foods and drinks and to aid the also increasingly difficult work of vital organs like the lungs and heart.

Sounds terrible, but its true.

So if I were the coach of a guy from scenario 2, what would I suggest?

Well, its pretty obvious…

  1. Lose 15-20 kg/33-44lbs (easier than you think for most people)
  2. Do some intensive tactical training to boost the overall effect

After some thought I am convinced that these two suggestions if taken seriously by the average overweight or unfit chess player will result in at least a 200 point rating gain.

How to Lose 15-20kg/33-44lbs in 2 months:

There are many ways to lose weight and this is actually a very controversial topic, so I am only going to suggest a method which has worked for me and is based on pretty recent science.

Thats right, there was a time when I gained a lot of weight (for various reasons) and even when I went to give chess classes, some kids would hit my tummy and say “Mr big fat tummy!” as they giggled.

Kids can be so mean.

A variant of this method is what allowed me at that time to lose 16kg/35lbs in just six weeks and transform into the guy from scenario 1, and what I am proposing for you to follow is an improved version of this method.

There are a few basic rules to follow.

  1. None of the three white poisons in your diet (sugar, salt and flour) It doesn’t matter whether it takes the form of a soda drink, cakes, bread, or whatever. If it does or can come from one of these things, cut it out!
  2. Skip breakfast and don’t eat after 9 or 10pm. This is called intermittent fasting and is very powerful for fat-loss. Google it. The old rule that breakfast is the most important meal of the day is bullshit.
  3. Drink tons of water. Add lemon if its too boring for you, but carry your water bottle everywhere with you. Refill it constantly.
  4. Eat more or less the same thing over and over. One simple idea is to eat boiled chicken and broccoli. This tastes pretty good and will definitely burn the fat.
  5. Embrace juicing to detoxify your body and cure the hunger pangs. My favourite is to blend ginger, lemon, spinach, tomato, celery and cucumber with cold water. The outcome is a drink that makes you feel as full as if you’d had a meal and gives your body an enormous amount of benefits including rapid weight loss and an improved immune system. The ginger makes it taste pretty good too.
  6. 15-20 minutes of light cardio each day. I recommend using a stationary bike instead of jogging since it is lighter on your knees, but do whatever you will stick to. Do enough to build a good sweat, but not so much that you are too lazy the following day.
  7. Optional: If you’d like to also gain some muscle and avoid the “skinny-fat” type of appearance, then throw some pushups and other body weight exercises into the mix. Do as much as you can to stack the game in your favour. A couple of months work will be well worth it in the end.

This is more or less the plan I follow, although I’m not as disciplined as I should be (I’m also in better shape than the fellas this article is meant for!), it works wonders and gives a very clear head while keeping me full of energy.

How to boost your tactical skill DRASTICALLY in 2 months:

Now that you’ve began the process of physical transformation, its time to take advantage of your newly sharpened mind.

This will provide that extra boost which will pump steroids into your chess skill.

Tactics are EVERYTHING my friends and its time to become a shark!

Here’s the process.

  1. Take my Chess Tactics Essentials course, its free and has been studied by well over 6000 chess lovers.
  2. Now you have a good tactical foundation. Goto Chesstempo.com and sign up. Most of the features are free, but the premium membership is well worth it too (I’m a premium subscriber myself). The site is for tactical training/drilling and is the best there is, if you know how to use it. I’ll make a video soon for you showing how to make the most of this site.
  3. Each day in the morning after your cardio exercise, make yourself a green tea or coffee (without sugar!) and solve tactical exercises for 1 hour.
  4. Make it a daily discipline for 2 months.

And thats it!

Its basically a bit of diet, a bit of exercise and a bit of tactical training and thats  it.

A simple process with enormous results for you.

This process took 16kg/35lbs off my body and took me from a rating in the late 1900s to well over 2100 level without adding a lot of what we’d refer to as “chess knowledge”.

So why not give it a go? This will change your life chess friends, so take some notes on the rules, make a personal commitment to the new you and DO IT!

I can’t wait to hear your results.

UPDATE (January 2, 2015):

Guys! Its January 2 and over the period from my birthday (December 15th) to New Years Eve, I have gained probably about 5kg and perhaps a little more!

Jesus!

Who would have thought that all of that chocolate birthday cake and beer would turn out to be unhealthy? 🙂

So…basically the face is looking a little rounder and the belly has a bit of bulge to it which pisses me off, but what can you do over the holiday period, right?

Anyway…

Its the perfect chance for me to take my own advice and follow the advice in this post.

I’ll update you on my results (with before and after pics) in a follow-up post in a few weeks. 🙂

 

 

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Hi Brendan,

    Great article!! Did you ever make a video about Chesstempo’s tactics tool? I watched your video on LiChess’s tactics training tool and the interface looked great.

    When I went to Chesstempo, it’s tactics tool overwhelmed me with so many features and gizmos that I just felt discouraged. Maybe I wouldn’t be if you posted a video on how to use it properly.

    Thanks in advance.