Staying Strong

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


  • 4 years ago


    Well to be fair the carokann is the superior opening, so dont feel too bad.

  • 5 years ago


    Also clean up your room, helps your study focus.

  • 5 years ago


    That's a very interesting game, really enjoyed it even though my boy Vugar lost 

  • 5 years ago


     Thank You For Sharing.  :)

  • 5 years ago


    Very instructive,thanks for sharing

  • 5 years ago


    Very good advice thanks a lot

  • 5 years ago


    That was a very interesting game indeed. Some of the opening decisions of black seemed very dubious to me at first (like c5, or allowing Nxb7 and destroying the bishop pair) etc., but what do I know? Smile Soon enough black just got 2 pawns up out of nowhere and finished the game off with a patient technique. Very nice game.

    I also enjoyed reading about your physical preparation before events. Thank you for this interesting and instructive blog post.

  • 5 years ago


    Very very sound advice!  Sam, do you have tips on reading your opponents body language ... examples from your own experience would be very interesting.  Thanks!

  • 5 years ago


    I am glad it is referred to as a game. Chess itself is a game, but hey playing sports outside of chess will definitely help your chess. I am a racquet sport enthusiast and besides the one-on-one aspect, the exercise I get really can help translate to the chess board.

  • 5 years ago


    Its especially tough when you have physical problems but it's true. Finding some way to work out and getting lots of sleep on top of eating well should increase your rating by a hundred or more points vs when you cant get those things.

  • 5 years ago


    What we should do with the game? Analyze with an engine?

  • 5 years ago


    Yes! Chess is not for a weak SPIRIT ! But if You want to be very good player -You need to know about BIG SECRETS (not only about good food and vitamins ).Chess is mental WAR-invisible war (not only on chess-board).And it is very STRANGE war (in super -high level).The weak player always are in deep TRANCE (we can see it-22...b5!!-23..cb??).They all SLEEPS...When we sleep-we see only dream ,but not real facts.We sleep not only in chess-but in our life too,and how we can awake-it is BIG PROBLEM-our brain likes to work automatically in "economic" level.

  • 5 years ago


    No question. Exercise benefits all areas of your life, including mental endeavours.

  • 5 years ago


    Great article! Exercise is supplementary to help good chess.

  • 5 years ago


    I hope you get to the top 20. Can you do it?

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