Stanford University

Eat to Win More Chess Games and Tournaments

Bobby Fischer ate meat, cheese, hardboiled eggs and herring. Drank ice water, tomato juice and cola.

Boris Spassky ate sandwiches and drank coffee and orange juice.

Therefore, during their epic World Championship Chess Tournament in Iceland in 1972, Spassky probably consumed more carbohydrates than his American challenger, from eating two slices of bread along with whatever was in the middle of his sandwiches. He spiked his blood sugar level with a high glycemic index drink and squeezed his energy reserves with caffeine.

Depending on how much tomato juice and cola he drank, Fischer may have eaten more carbohydrates than the optimum, but at least he ate a lot of high protein foods to balance the carbs.

Is it possible that Spassky would have given Fischer a better fight for the chess title if he’d eaten few carbohydrates?

Chess tournaments are a physical as well as intellectual and emotional strain. To win, you need any and every edge.

Many world class chess players realize they have to exercise before a high level tournament. They understand that although chess is a mental game, our minds function better in brains inside healthy bodies. Especially those with good blood circulation and oxygen utilization.

Not enough chess players realize that what they eat both before and during the tournament has a lot to do with their performance. They can either support or undercut their physical hard work.

Yes, there’re thousands of books out there on how to eat healthy. For my money, the most scientifically based in the Zone by Dr. Barry Sears, who’s written many bestselling books on the Zone diet.

Dr. Sears has worked with the Los Angeles Rams, Stanford University’s swimming teams and many other athletes. In 3 Olympics, athletes he’s worked with have won twenty-one gold medals.

You’re a chess player, not a swimmer or football player, but to be at your best through a long chess game or tournament, you need to have your hormones in balance. That provides you with the solid, continuing energy you need to focus, think and play your best.

That requires eating a proper balance of healthy carbohydrates (most fruits and vegetables), low-fat protein (low fat meat, fish, cheese and eggs) and health monosaturated fat.

If you do nothing else — eat protein and healthy carbs at every meal. That does mean eliminating all but very small quantities of sugar and grains. No bread. No cake. No rice. No candy. And so on.

Also, eat small quantities at intervals so you do not get hungry, but do not overeat. When you eat too much your body sends lots of blood to your digestive system. During a chess match, you want your blood available to carry lots of oxygen to your brain. But you need to eat enough to keep your blood sugar level high enough for your brain to function well.

One more way to eat to win more chess games and tournaments — Omega 3 oils.

This is “brain food” at its finest. Omega 3 oil, best taken through capsules of pharmaceutical grade fish oil, is the best “smart drug” available. It’s a secret weapon for chess players.

Omega 3 is an essential oil that we normally can get from our diets, but unless you eat huge quantities of fish, you don’t get enough of it through your meals. It contains docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a long-chain fatty acid that is critical to the brain for synapses (which transfer information) and the mitochondria, to make ATP. Your brain cannot perform at its peak level during a chess tournament without adequate DHA.

Omega 3 oils supplies that DHA. Plus encourages the flow of blood to your brain. It reduces inflammation, the loss of neurotransmitters and excess cortisol (the stress hormone). Also, high-dose fish oil increases dopamine levels, which enables greater concentration for your chess matches. And increases serotonin, which increases your threshold to stress.

Active tournament entering chess players should take 8 capsules a day of pharmaceutical grade fish oil.

To learn more about how you can improve your chess game with the Zone Diet and Omega 3 oils, read Dr. Sears’ two latest books, THE OMEGARX ZONE and THE ANTI-INFLAMMATION ZONE.

Of course they don’t replace the study and practice of chess itself. But they’ll help you play your chest.

Your carbohydrate-bloated, brain DHA-deficient chess opponents will wonder how you got so good.

Follow us