Calories & Study

Calories & Study

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BCG1 asked:

Now that you admit that you make things up I am very upset. I religiously followed your training advice by pounding down the 22,000 calories daily, as you recommended, and now weigh 800 lbs! I tried the “professor of exobiology” on some girls but they did not fall for it. I demand that you now tell me what diet to follow so I get back down to 400 lbs or so.

Dear Mr. BCG1:

I’m so sorry! That was a typo. Instead of 22,000 calories, I meant to write 12,000 (but you also have to know what to eat!). The difference is huge – 22,000 turns you into a human slug, while 12,000 turns you into a super athlete. Want proof? Let’s use Michael Phelps as an example. The NY Post published a list of his daily diet (which adds up to 12,000 calories):

BREAKFAST: Three fried-egg sandwiches loaded with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, fried onions and mayonnaise, two cups of coffee, a five-egg omelet, a bowl of grits, three slices of French toast topped with powdered sugar and three chocolate-chip pancakes.

LUNCH: A pound of enriched pasta and two large ham and cheese sandwiches slathered with mayo on white bread. He caps off the meal by chugging about 1,000 calories worth of energy drinks.

DINNER: Carbohydrate central – a pound of pasta and an entire pizza. He washes all that down with another 1,000 calories worth of energy drinks. 

BCG1, trust me when I tell you that switching from the 22,000 intake to the 12,000 diet will reshape your body in just a few weeks time … you’ll go from human manatee to human dolphin. And your chess … well, just imagine all those nutrients washing over and through your brain, lighting up its firing pins like a field full of flares. If your head doesn’t explode (and there’s a very real chance that it will), you might well earn the GM title in 2 months’ time.


Kmarshall asked:

I have recently come back to serious chess after a 30-year absence. I was an 1800 player with not much study 30 years ago. Now, starting back, I am around 1400. I just turned 60, am studying hard, and am trying to play as much as possible. My question to you is this: Will it be possible to recapture at least my 1800 rating, and is it possible to become a master at my age?

Dear Mr. Kmarshall,

Why not? The first thing you have to do is play in a few events and see what does and doesn’t work. If you find that you can’t calculate as well as you did in your youth, change your openings to more positionally based setups. If your memory has vanished, avoid lines that demand the memorization of endless variations. You can make up for anything lost by improving in other areas.

Also keep in mind that 1800 thirty-years ago would translate to approximately 2100 now. So getting back to anything near your old form would actually take you quite close to your 2200 goal.

Finally, don’t forget that masters are nothing special in the greater scheme of things. They make all sorts of mistakes. This doesn’t mean that being a chess master won’t excite the ladies (it will!), but it is does mean that 2200 is a realistic goal. Thus, a well thought out study program, a dollop of talent, practice against higher rated players, and an honest “appreciation” of your weaknesses (meaning you need to go over every game you play and carefully deconstruct it) will give you an excellent chance to earn that title.


Miturr_binesdurtee15 asked:

A Master friend of mine diagnosed my game and pointed out that I don’t understand my moves, especially in the opening, and I was just moving pieces before coming up with a real goal. Are there any books available that give a position, tries to find out the problems on either side, teaches you how to exploit them, teaches you how to defend them, and shows you what the plans are? Can this be found in HOW TO REASSESS YOUR CHESS?

Dear Mr. Miturr_binesdurtee15:

HOW TO REASSESS YOUR CHESS 4th Edition (now due out in late September … I hope) is indeed about the things you mentioned, plus it also offers up never before seen psychological training. The book (for players from 1400 to 2100) offers an easy to grasp system that enables you to understand the game at a far deeper level than ever before, which in turn makes chess more enjoyable. I also went out of my way to make the book very personal and very funny – who said that productive chess study and having a great time can’t go hand in hand?


Mr. Smith asked:

I’ve been following your advice on the study of master games. My biggest concern about the method is I am unable to identify all but the most obvious of high-level mistakes, and that I may repeat them. Is this a problem?

Dear Mr. Smith:

When I speak of going through dozens (or even hundreds) of master games a day, I don’t want you to analyze anything at all; instead, just zip through them and allow the pawn structures, opening moves, middlegame play, and endgames to creep into the deepest recesses of your mind. This is all about absorbing patterns on a subconscious level. When you see a particular pawn structure, and see a certain piece setup appear whenever that structure occurs, 10,000 repetitions of that structure will burn those patterns into your very soul without you even realizing it.

As for worrying about repeating the subtle mistakes of a grandmaster, you should be so lucky. Being strong enough to make the mistakes they do for the reasons that prompted them to make the move in the first place would mean that you’re super-strong. It’s certainly nothing to worry about.

However, I’ll repeat: when you’re going through a ton of games at warp speed, don’t expect to deeply understand the games you look at. That’s not the purpose of this specific exercise.


WARNING: I was, of course, joking about the need to consume 12,000 calories a day! Though Mr. Phelps was indeed chugging down that much, he's a very rare case. What's good for Mr. Phelps will quite likely kill anyone else!

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