I thoroughly enjoy playing blitz and bullet chess online. Maybe I even enjoy it too much; I now and then find myself embroiled in playing sessions that last for several hours straight. I’m sure at least some of you, whether you are a beginner or a strong titled player, can empathize with this scenario.
One of the many problems associated with such marathon gaming sessions is that your concentration usually tends to waver over time. You start calculating less, increasingly play on instinct, and your emotions can start getting the better of you. Yet you keep the games flowing, with each win providing just enough adrenaline and “push” to keep you going, and each loss just leaves you craving for revenge. It can be an endless vicious cycle. Alas, the chess addiction is fed at the potential cost of your physical and psychological health.
Here is one solution! I call it Bullet/Blitz workout chess. All it requires is the right attitude and for you to be at home. Here is how it works:
** Do 25 (adjust accordingly) pushups immediately after every game you lose.**
Yep! That’s it, but the benefits are deceptively numerous.
Stepping away from the computer every now and then to do your exercises breaks the monotony of the playing session. It also lets you redirect your frustration onto your body, instead of negatively affecting your mental state during the next game. It is pretty hard to go on psychological “tilt” during bullet/blitz workout chess simply because your mind is cleared and “reset” during the physical exercise. Of course, you have to be careful about the physical exhaustion negatively impacting your play, but at least from my experience, this does not become an issue unless you are losing way too much. If you are losing so many games to the point where you either a) can’t complete your “punishment” pushups or b) you can’t think because your heart is beating too fast, it is a good sign that you should stop and take a break from playing more games.
The last bullet workout chess match I played was against Talentzeker (http://www.chess.com/members/view/talentzeker). He is a very strong bullet player with a chess.com bullet rating consistently over 2600. I ultimately lost 21 to 25 in our grueling series that took about 2 hours. I wanted to play more, but my body simply wouldn’t allow me to (25 losses x 25 pushups =625 pushups). I suppose this is a triumph of my system because we both easily could have wasted time on 50+ more games under “normal” circumstances.
Last but not least, bullet/blitz workout chess will definitely help you get into better physical shape. It can help you achieve that beach body for the summer of 2012. Getting in shape also indirectly helps your chess game. If you are interested in learning more, please check out this article written by GM Sam Shankland, http://blog.chess.com/Shankland/staying-strong. I’ll end with a quote from one of the world’s greatest chess champions:
“I think it is very important for a top chess player to be as physically fit as possible. At the very highest levels, games can often be decided by whether a player was in good physical shape or not.” –Garry Kasparov
So please go ahead and try bullet/blitz workout chess, especially if you find yourself locked into one of those long and grueling gaming sessions. You might just find that it is the cure you need. It could even be the jumpstart you need for a successful chess-boxing career .
-FM Evan Ju