For this month's blog, I'd like to talk about staying physically strong and how it helps improve your chess. Chess is a really grueling game, and the amount of energy I put into each individual game is enormous, not even counting the time I spend preparing. It's much easier to play with this kind of energy at the beginning of a tournament than when you've already been doing it for 8 games! This is not as much of an issue when a tournament only lasts 4 or 5 games, but by the time you are playing 7 or 8 games in a row it can be really tough, and some events are even longer still. Throw in that almost all American tournaments are 2 games per day, and that I try to prepare as much as I can for each individual game, and it becomes clear that mental and physical exhaustion is a tough enemy to combat in tournament practice. To make sure I have enough energy at the end of an event, I take certain measures, which I will share with you here:
1. Work out! When I'm not at a tournament I go to the gym every day, running at least a couple miles and working with weights.
2. Get rest during a tournament. I would not recommend going out and clubbing the night before an early morning game, people need their sleep.
3. Make sure you are in good health before an event- taking vitamin supplements to help promote a good immune system is never a bad idea.
I won't share all the secrets of my tournament routine, but hopefully what I have presented so far is a good set of recommendations to help you maintain high levels of energy. The last thing an opponent want to see in the last round is the person sitting across from them full of energy and ready to fight- most of them would rather call it quits and make a quick draw- try to become this person's worst nightmare!
Seeing that this is a chess blog, I feel I should mention something about the gameplay itself. Here is a game that I think is very instructive and a lot can be learned from, and it has nothing to do with energy or anything like that- just a game that I think is interesting and worthy of study.
Best of luck to all!
GM Sam Shankland