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Friday, May 27, 2011

Confessions of a grandmaster - the chess and weight connection

Chess blog for latest chess news and chess trivia (c) Alexandra Kosteniuk, 2011

Hello everybody,

As you know, the very nice chess exhibition was organised in Saint Louis. Before we tell you all the results, here's a nice piece written by Grandmaster Ben Finegold after his not so nice loss to the 16-year-old Ray Robson. It's a cute piece. The fun part aside, it shows how important physical fitness is if you want to play top-class chess.

Confessions of a Grandmaster
By Ben Finegold, Grandmaster, special to the Beacon

The world did not end Saturday, but maybe those who were making predictions were just a little off. Perhaps their lines got crossed, and instead of "the end of the world will occur on May 21" they meant "Ben Finegold will lose his match on May 22."

When I lost to America's youngest-ever grandmaster, 16-year-old Ray Robson, in this week's international match, it made me think of one of my son's favorite laments: "What world do we live in?" I have decided to stop idly wondering and take some steps to proactively make it a world that works better for me.

I have a lot of bad habits (who doesn't?), and I decided Sunday night - after losing the last slow chess game in my match with young Robson - that I was going to make some changes in my life. What specifically?

  • Spend more time studying/working on my chess game
  • Lose weight (eat less of the wrong stuff and enjoy more of the right stuff and go to the gym more)
  • Keep my home clean and my thoughts more clear

The most important decision was No. 2 on that list. I have had trouble with my weight, and this became more obvious during my chess match. My esteemed opponent is a tall, thin 16 year old. He is probably 5 foot 11 inches and 110-120 pounds. Conversely, I am 5 foot 8 and 315 pounds. Looking at the webcam and pictures from the match was quite disturbing, to say the least.

Now, I'm not making such rash life changes because it is the best thing for me. That would make too much sense. I decided to improve my life simply due to my suffering chess game. Chess is what I do best, and lately I have been playing poorly. About five years ago, I lost 100 pounds, and my chess rating soared. I went from about twenty-fifth rated in the U.S. to the top 10. I was playing and feeling great! Since then, I have gained all the weight back, and my chess has suffered. Now I am barely in the top 30. Enough is enough.

My birthday is Sept. 6. I will lose 50 pounds by then, and another 50 by the year's end. And that is just the beginning. Why all the fuss? Let's have a look at the sixth match game played Sunday.

Will my chess improve as my health gets better and my weight decreases? Only time will tell.

We wish him the best with his goals and all of you who are inspired to set similar goals! Don't forget to share you experiments with us.

From Alexandra Kosteniuk's
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