Why chess wrecks the bodies of grandmasters

I’m having some trouble finding detailed tech specs for a unique computer now old enough to drink legally in the US; but a 30 node RS/6000 SP (120MHz P2SC, I think) loaded with custom ASICs was almost certainly a pretty thirsty beast(and by ‘thirsty’, I’d be quite surprised if it even supported 110/120v, definitely not at a domestic 15-20amps; and may well have required a full 3-phase feed, as befits a data smelter of the old school).

Unfortunately for the humans, considerable gains in efficiency(of both silicon and chess) have been realized in the decades since; and most are now at serious risk from even chess engines running on smartphone level hardware without specialist coprocessors. Since nobody really does human/machine chess competitions anymore(people use chess engines for training and such all the time; but there’s no real interest in throwing hapless humans to the killbots in formal competition) the ELO values for humans and machines aren’t necessarily as comparable as one would like; but I’d suspect that almost everyone, likely everyone period, is now less energy efficient at chess than a bot. There’s some wiggle room depending on how much of a chess player’s effective wattage you want to ascribe to chess playing specifically rather than non-chess biological housekeeping; but some fairly low powered systems now play pretty serious chess(though it remains the case that chess engines generally play better if given more power, as there’s typically some brute force searching in the mix somewhere; but it’s not as though human players don’t improve if given more time, up to a point.

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Why don’t they have free pizza?


New article: “Crossfit Gyms add Chess Station”.


As a parent of kids who are seriously into chess, I know first hand how important the physical aspect of the game is. I didn’t know about the weight loss during long tournaments, but physical activity, general fitness, and sleep is so important to playing a strong game. After trial and error, we’ve come up with a food strategy where the night before games we have a high protein meal (with maybe a dessert for encouragement) and an early sleep. In the morning, we have a hearty breakfast without too much sugar. We allow dark chocolate and water as snacks during the morning game. We usually have a light lunch and in the afternoon, the kids have caffeinated tea and some more dark chocolate for their afternoon game. (In the tournaments my kids play in, there are usually 2 games per day).

We also make sure they get outside for a walk between games for fresh air, but don’t tire themselves out running around. It’s a delicate dance, but it seems to work for us. I often see other kids (under 10) in the tournament with multiple red-bulls in front of them during a game and I’m sure there’s adderoll going on as well. It can’t be healthy.


When it comes to wrecking bodies the specific style of chess being played matters quite a bit, I’d imagine.


Unless the chairs are bolted down, I don’t understand how the situation is any different seated — could move your chair behind and creep on your opponent just as easily as standing behind.

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Now they can deadlift balancing on a gym ball while playing chess.

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