Burn the school down!

Burn the school down! These powerful words spoken by Cliff Curtis, aka Genesis “Gen” Potini, in the movie The Dark Horse, illustrate that in chess – and in life – everything is possible and you’re allowed to be crazy from time to time. Push the pawns up, sacrifice the piece, blow up the king side. What’s the worst that can happen?

 

 

THE DARK HORSE

The Dark Horse tells the true story of the mentally ill New Zealand chess champion Genesis Potini finding his life purpose through coaching underprivileged children in chess. The film features an outstanding, award-winning performance by Cliff Curtis (Fear the walking dead, Blow, Whale Rider) who’ll be starring in James Cameron’s future Avatar sequels.

THE IMPOSSIBLE CHESS PUZZLE

Chess teaches you to open your mind, push your boundaries and think outside of the box. Moves that seem totally absurd and unreasonable at first sight can sometimes prove to be the best moves. Getting yourself in that state of mind where everything is possible is often the first step to a great idea. Every chess player, regardless of their background and level of play, is capable of creating something new in chess.

 

TheDarkHorse

 

Want to broaden your horizons and test your outside of the box thinking skills? In the impossible chess puzzle given above, white has to find a way to checkmate the black king in only 1 move. That’s right, you only have 1 move! Before you can solve this problem, the rules about pawn promotion are repeated as follows: when a pawn has reached the eighth square, the player has the option of selecting any piece of his choice excluding the king and the pawn. Hint: rereading the start of this blog post gives you a slight edge 😉

 

 

 

 

 

Professionals‘ Best Chess Tips

Schachtipps

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Opening

“One of the fundamental principles in chess demands quick piece development. Every piece must be brought into the game as early as possible, while the necessary actions for each and every particular opening strategy must be taken into consideration. An undeveloped piece neither contributes to a player’s offense nor defense. The player with a number of underdeveloped pieces is literally in substantive disadvantage, which appears especially when the opponent was able to develop his.” (Max Euwe)

“One has to take into account that thorough knowledge of openings is impossible, when the player lacks a satisfying end game cleverness in evaluating the variance of possibilities.” (José Raoul Capablanca)

“Even in the very first opening moves we do not only strive for developing our pieces and Pawns quickly and reaching strategically beneficial opening positions, but at the same time we constantly strive for hampering our opponent’s development and limiting the activities of his abilities to take away important squares from him.” (Alexander Koblenz)

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Strategy & Tactics

Once a player has realized that the moment of decision has come, he must thoroughly observe the positioning from all angles. He must weigh his own strengths and weaknesses against those of the opponent and evaluate all details of the positioning – the arrangement of Pawns, location of the opposite King, existence of open and semi-open lines, etc.. Who misses the opportunity of making a plan, aimlessly wanders from move to move or relies on tactical chances of the moment that can be advantageous for himself.. It is important to have goals, and a plan to reach these goals.(Max Euwe)

“Not results shall be kept in mind, but methods. Methods are flexible, they provide basis to all situations in my life.” (Emmanuel Lasker)

“It is a common rule that one should open a position when better developed than the other; moreover, it is applicable for almost all positioning that one should attack advanced Pawns.” (Max Euwe)

“A far advanced open Pawn can disarray the opponent’s entire game. If the Pawn has come forward to the sixth (or third) row even, it is so strong that in combination with two other figures (especially when a Rook is involved) it is superior to the Queen.” (Siegbert Tarrasch)

“The initiative is a meaningful element in chess. Sometimes it is worth two Pawns, and sometimes even more than that.“ (Max Euwe)

Dominating an open line with a Rook or even both is a significant advantage, especially when it is the only open line and the opponent cannot position his own Rooks on it. Once a player has occupied an open line, he certainly seeks to avoid occupation through an opposite Rook by introducing another heavy figure into the lines.” (Siegbert Tarrasch)

„A Pawn is called isolated when the Pawns around him are not on the board – in other words, when he is not protected by any Pawns. An isolated Pawn can be a serious weakness due to two reasons: Because it is not protected by Pawns, it must be covered by other figures which limits their mobility. Furthermore, the opponent is often able to occupy the square in front of the Pawn with a figure that the Pawn can’t attack. This is a meaningful square for the opponent.” (Max Euwe)

Maintaining the maximum number of physical forces is in the interest of the one dominating the larger space at a given moment.” (Alexander Aljechin)

“A captivation occurs when a figure cannot move because it would cause the King to be in threat of check or it would mean losing an important piece. Captivation is an effective weapon, as it hinders the captivated figure to freely participate in the battle.” (Max Euwe)

“A very general rule that is of major importance in all stages of the game: One strives to obtain the highest capacity for action for all own figures and to hinder the opposite figures as much as possible.” (José Raoul Capablanca)

“If both players have castled in different ways, they most often aim for attacking the King on both sides. Who manages to attack first is in substantial advantage.” (Max Euwe)

Pawns are by no means equal to one another. Close to the center they are strongest, and lose importance the further away from the center and closer to the edge of the board they are positioned. If one is able to beat two Pawns with one figure, it is most desirable to do so in the center.” (Siegbert Tarrasch)

“A player combines all his general goals to an overall strategy; it gives him a guideline for his actions. Through tactics he will take advantage of opportunities that every single move of the opponent offers him.” (Ma Euwe)

“A Rook`s Pawn that is advanced to h6 (h3) or a6 (a3) is a persistent threat in the midst of the game when one has castled to that particular side. It appears like an Officer and supports check-attacks, and often even offers the opportunity of check-attack in combination with the Queen. The Pawn is especially strong when there is no Bishop to cover him.” (Siegbert Tarrasch)

“Make your opponent nervous and force him to use his pieces to cover your Pawns. Once he reveals a weak spot, try to make it grow or provoke a second weakness in a different spot to cause the opposite positioning to fall apart. If the opponent is able to fix one of the weaknesses, make sure that he will face another weakness instead.” (José Raoul Capablanca)

“The most common way to undermine a line a Pawns is to attack the basis with one Pawn. If the opponent wants to maintain his line of Pawns (which is the usual case), he will make it stronger by supporting it with another Pawn. The attacker then has the option to either extend his own line by advancing his Pawn, or to switch Pawns at the basis which will cause a weakness in that spot and give a target opportunity. As it is usually desirable to break up the opposite line of Pawns, attacking the peak can even be auspicious at times. In such cases, the line is broken up when switching Pawns; if it is supported by own Pawns, on the other hand, it might lead to line opening with significant opportunities to attack.” (Max Euwe)

“The most important element in mid-game is tactics. It is important to see everything that is more or less hidden. To exploit the opportunity to create combinations, when they occur! There is a fake defense, there is an uncovered figure, there is opportunity for a captivation or a double-attack and so on..” (Siegbert Tarrasch)

“The advantage of paired Bishops lies in the fact that a harmonic interplay of the two can significantly hamper the opponent’s freedom of movement, can help control the diagonals, and in a given (advantageous) moment, can help one to easily let go of the pair. The pair of Bishops has no significance in the game when the positioning of Pawns is blocked.” (Alexander Koblenz)

Narrow positioning is the seed of all failure.” (Siegbert Tarrsch)

“The combination is a sequence of moves that may not make sense individually, but aim for a certain purpose all together. Combinations usually include a sacrifice. There are combinations without sacrifice, but instead one has to work with threats, to limit the possible number of opposite reactions. In any other case, the number of variances to calculate would be too large.” (Max Euwe)

“All pieces must be covered if possible. The safest of covers is provided by Pawns. Uncovered pieces often come along with trouble. They are attacked while another threat is developed, get stuck in uncomfortable captivation, or even face a double attack.” (Siegbert Tarrasch)

“Focus on physical successes. Take what your opponent offers you, unless there is a good reason not to do so.” (Robert James Fischer)

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Endgame

“During a Rook endgame, the weaker party often has the chance of a tie until the very end.” (Siegbert Tarrasch)

“It is usually a good strategy to attack the opposite wing with a fianchittoed Bishop. Executing this plan, though, is ties to many preconditions.“ (Max Euwe)

“The battle for an open line is often crucial for the final outcome of a duel. The main value of dominating an open line lies in the opportunity for the Rook to advance to the second-to-last or second row. Once a Rook has penetrated this row, the player scores a major advantage during mid- and end-game, as he attacks Pawns on the left and right and threatens the opposite King. Other forces to support the Rook and when only a single light piece is left to provide protection, checkmate is near. Therefore, the defending player must try to counteract the opposite Rook with one of his very own in the occupied row as soon as possible.” (Siegbert Tarrasch)

“Statistics of many tournaments prove that 50 percent of all endgames rely on Rook endgames. For this very reason, studying these end games has such great practical value.” (Vassili Smyslov)

“During the entire game, as well as during the endgame, the Bishop is generally slightly superior to the Knight – with one exception: A Knight in the center, covered und impossible to banish, is stronger than a Bishop. Even in blocked positions the Knight often proves to be handier than the Bishop.” (Siegbert Tarrasch)

“To improve your game, you must look at your endgames first. While the endgame can be studied and solved apart from everything else, openings and mid-games must always be studied with regard to the endgame.” (José Raoul Capablanca)

Find more tips to improve your game in Chessimo’s 101 Chess Tipps – short and to the point and presented in graphics!

written by Sarah, translated by Birthe

The Best Chess Variations | Part 3

Chess VariationsYou are looking for changes in playing tactics and are tired of playing only classical chess all the time? Chessimo will introduce you to five interesting variations of classical checkmate. You can easily try them out at home and will still practice all fundamental skills for progress in your classical variations.

In Part 1 we focused on Chess960 / Fischer Random Chess, Casablanca Chess, Andernach-Chess, Nuclear Chess, and Soccer Chess.

Part 2 was dedicated to Maharajah Chess, Crowded Chess, Coin Chess, Robbers’ Chess, and Follow Up Chess.

Today, we have another five variations for you to try out.

1. Knight & Pocket Chess

Regular equipment, usual rule set. Before starting the game, each player takes either one Knight (usually the Queen’s Knight) or both Knights off the boards and puts them in their pocket. At a freely chosen point in time, a player can put the Knight back in the game by taking it out of the pocket and placing it on the board during their turn. This is accounted for as a full move. The Knight is immediately an active chess piece like all other pieces on the board. For the rest of the game, the Knight may be moved according to the classical rules.

2. Turkish Chess

This variation was invented in 1985 and is considered one of the most popular game variations in chess. When playing Turkish Chess, only the Pawns may eliminate the opponent’s pieces. All other pieces are used as usual and may checkmate the other party’s King. Particularly tricky: Once an opposing figure has made it behind the line of Pawns, it cannot be beaten until the end of the game and becomes a major threat. This is about thinking outside the ‘square’.

3. Transformation Chess

A vary suspenseful variation that requires dexterity and thinking ahead. Every time a figure is beaten, the beating figure is immediately transformed: It is replaced by the type of opposing figure it has just beaten, the color of it remains the same. In other words, who beats a Pawn with his Queen has poor chances. Caution: If the King beats another figure, it is not replaced and must still be checkmated. BUT it must continue moving like the figure it just beat.

4. Dice Chess

With the help of dice, chance decides which chess piece is up on the move. King = 6, Queen = 5, Rook = 4, Bishop = 3, Knight = 2, Pawn = 1 (or the other way around – depending on the agreement made in the beginning of the game). Who is in check usually doesn’t have the best chances because the likelihood of rolling the dice in favor of a figure that is able to prevent the King from being checkmated is vanishingly small. If the figure suggested by the dice is in the game anymore or cannot be moved according to the usual rule set, the player has to pass this turn. Pawn promotion is also decided by the dice.

5. Counting Chess

The perfect variation when training prep moves. Both players takes turns. The first player up makes one move, while the one following up makes to moves in a row. After that three moves at one turn and so on. Every time, the move number increases by one which results in very long move sequences. Once check is given, the opponent takes his turn, no matter how many moves would have been left according to the system explained before. Goal as usual. Checkmate.

written by Sarah,translated by Birthe

The Best Chess Variations | Part 2

Chess VariationsYou are looking for changes in playing tactics and are tired of playing only classical chess all the time? Beginning today, Chessimo will introduce you to five interesting variations of classical checkmate, one every month. You can easily try them out at home and will still practice all fundamental skills for progress in your classical variations.

In Part 1 we focused on Chess960 / Fischer Random Chess, Casablanca Chess, Andernach-Chess, Nuclear Chess, and Soccer Chess. Today, we have another five variations for you to try out.

1. Maharajah Chess

The variation Maharajah treats the two opponents differently: While White plays with all chess pieces in accordance with the usual rule set, Black can only use the King and, depending on the player’s skill level, three (professional) or six (beginner) Pawns. These are lined up on the d, e, and f lines, and expanding to the b and g line in the case of a beginner playing. The specialty:  Black can always perform two moves in a row, in which the King may even move beyond checkmate, if it is not checkmated after the second move. Black may also give check in the first of its two moves and finally checkmate the White King in the second move. Furthermore, Black may checkmate White with its King.

2. Crowded Chess

Usual chess set and positions, all usual moves are allowed. The specialty: Both players are allowed to move every single one of his chess pieces once during his turn.  In other words, one player can make up to sixteen moves in one turn, though is not forced to move every singly chess piece. The variation creates extraordinary positioning that encourages the players to engage in the game with especially farsighted thinking.

3.Coin Chess

This variation begins with placing a coin in the square e4. The usual set of rules applies. Both players always move a chess piece and the coin during their turn. The coin must move into the same direction and distance as the chosen piece. One can only perform moves that allow the coin to stay on the board, on a free square. The coin is always moved prior to the chess piece, so that the piece can be placed on the coin’s previous position; but not vice versa. Loser is who can perform no further legitimate move.

4. Robbers‘ Chess

In Robbers‘ Chess there is neither giving chess nor checkmating. The King is treated like every other chess piece which allows the players to turn their Pawns into Kings. It is the games declared goal to first lose all pieces. Every move is under obligation of capture – meaning that one must eliminate a figure if he has the opportunity to.

5. Follow Up Chess

With every move one must cover the very square that the opponent just left unoccupied after his move. Only if doing so is absolutely impossible, a player may choose a “free” move. It is allowed to move the own King into checkmate or leave it there – a clever move if the opponent is then forced to move a figure onto a recently left square. Follow Up Chess requires a high degree of farsighted thinking. Sequences of moves that are well thought though, can trigger a chain reaction of scoring, and at the same time, one small mistake can lead to quick loss of the entire duel.

written by Sarah, translated by Birthe

How Do I Improve My Ability To Concentrate?

Part 3: Effective exercises for everyday life

According to Wikipedia, concentration is defined as focusing all attention on one particular activity, reaching a short-term goal, or solving an assigned problem. It is no surprise then, that concentration in chess tournaments is one of the essential keys to success.

KonzentrationIt’s all about not getting distracted, about concentrating on the given positioning for up to six hours, about calculating, estimating, and maneuvering without straying from the subject. As this requires high intellectual effort, many players (even professionals) face problems in the persistence and continuity of keeping up concentration during such long periods of time. Even players like the grandmaster Jan Gustafsson report headaches and difficulties in concentrating after five hours.

The capability to concentrate depends on several influential factors which we will be discussing in the three parts of this month’s column: The body, the mind, and the practice.

Today, in Part 3, Chessimo will introduce you to a few effective exercises that can easily be practiced during everyday life and help you raise your concentration level.

Who sticks to the following recommendations will be able to significantly improve their concentration in practice and at tournaments.

Outdoor Exercises

1. Look at the windows up on house fronts and imagine they were chess fields. Then try to imagine how to move the Knight in order to touch each and every window once. This can easily be practiced in rooms with tiles on walls and floors also.

2. If you have bad sense for direction or lack spatial perception, the following exercises might be helpful (the also help develop an intuitive sense for positioning on the board):

  • Imagine rooms, buildings, and ways that you have passed, maybe on your way to work or home, or whilst shopping), from a bird perspective. Try to sketch a ground plan in your head.
  • Look at objects in your surrounding and imagine they were folded from a single piece of paper. Try to figure out how you would have to unfold the object and what the sheet of paper would look like.

3. When going to work or the local supermarket look for small stops on the way, such as the next massive tree, bus stop or other things that you pass on the way. When you start walking count your steps from one to five. Then begin again, counting from one to six. Then from one to seven, and so on. Once you’ve reached one of your predetermined stops start from the beginning. Also count your steps while climbing stairs or every third step when running.

4. Whilst driving: Read the license tag of the car in front of you and build a sentence from its letters. Example: PC3 – I47F ‘Playing Checkmate Is Fun’

Indoor Exercises

1. Focus on counting a certain letter while reading a newspaper article, an online blog, or anything else. Advancers can focus on two or three different letters without losing track or being distracted from comprehending the content.

2. Whilst listening to the radio or watching television reduce the volume so that you are only able to understand what is said in a state of high concentration. Begin with only a short period of time, just a few minutes, as this is extremely exhaustive. Over time you will be able to stretch this period of concentrated listening.

3. Pick a word that is often said on the radio or television (with, and, but, ..). Take fifteen minutes of your time and count how often this particular word is said.

Exercises With A Partner

1. You have a nice colleague with whom you are often stuck in long meetings? Team up and use this time to work on your concentration capabilities while having fun! Sit across from your partner and make a small gesture, such as scratching your ear, folding your arms, or tapping on your coffee mug. You partner will then repeat your gesture and ass another. You take turns repeating the previous gestures and adding new ones.

2. Use a cozy evening in front of the TV for some brain jogging. While watching a movie together, add all the numbers that are mentioned in your head and compare results afterwards.

3. Completing each other’s sentences is not only power of soul mates. Play a game with your partner, child, colleague, or friend in which you take turns saying words that must add up to an adequate sentence. Ideal would be the creation of a small story.

Exercises On Paper

1. Take pen and paper and write down the shopping list with your left hand (left-handed people must use their right hand) or learn a new font, such as Old German or Old English. This process requires a high amount of concentration.

2. Take a handful of spaghetti and let them fall onto the table like Mikado Sticks. Then draw this formation from any perspective and try to catch all the lines and angles in the right dimensions. Soon you will be able to do this while talking to a client on the phone.

3. Write short notes, for example at work, I mirror writing. With a little practice you’ll be able to even do it while phoning a customer.

Exercises With Your Body

Who wants to improve the interaction of the two hemispheres of the brain, is best advised to do this with crisscross exercises.

1. Touch your right knee with your left elbow and then your left knee with your right elbow. The classical Jumping Jack is also good practice.

2. Crisscross exercises work perfectly behind the back too: Touch your left foot with your right hand and the other way around.

3. It draws less attention if you do small crisscross exercises, for example at work. Try making small and subtle crisscross moves with your fingers and hands, or with your feet underneath your desk. Tracing the lines of an 8 with your eyes is also an effective exercise that strengthens your memory.

4. Who recognizes a decrease in concentration abilities (fatigue, exhaustion) in tournaments or other moments in life can regain energy with the stimulation of several different acupressure points. Take your earlobes between index fingers and thumbs and slightly pull on them. Work your way up to the tips of your ears and gently pull them to the sides. Repeat this massage two or three times.

To conclude, we can also recommend practicing particular sports and learning methods of muscle relaxation that have severe impact on one’s concentration capabilities. Some of these are Yoga, Tai-Chi, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation.

written by Sarah, translated by Birthe

How Do I Improve My Ability To Concentrate?

Part 2: Creating optimal mental conditions

According to Wikipedia, concentration is defined as focusing all attention on one particular activity, reaching a short-term goal, or solving an assigned problem. It is no surprise then, that concentration in chess tournaments is one of the essential keys to success.

KonzentrationIt’s all about not getting distracted, about concentrating on the given positioning for up to six hours, about calculating, estimating, and maneuvering without straying from the subject. As this requires high intellectual effort, many players (even professionals) face problems in the persistence and continuity of keeping up concentration during such long periods of time. Even players like the grandmaster Jan Gustafsson report headaches and difficulties in concentrating after five hours.

The capability to concentrate depends on several influential factors which we will be discussing in the three parts of this month’s column: The body, the mind, and the practice.

Today, in Part 2 of the trilogy, Chessimo will in introduce you to the mental conditions that will raise concentration abilities to optimum. Who sticks to the following recommendations will be able to significantly improve their concentration in practice and at tournaments.

Tension

It has been scientifically proven that one can the maximum of concentration capacity at medium tension level. In plain language: too much tenseness and anxiety block the player’s capabilities, while too little of it can be discouraging and does not stimulate the brain in order to achieve maximum performance. The difficult task is to find the right balance. As the majority of chess players is more than likely not dealing with casualness during tournaments, we have put together a few tips for you to reduce your stress and anxiety levels before duels:

  • Place your hand flat on your stomach and feel the flow of your breath. Feel how your hand slowly lifts when you breathe in and then slowly breathe out. Try to focus on nothing but your breath and do this exercise several minutes until you feel better.
  • Close your eyes and tighten all muscles of your body for a few seconds until you feel a slight ache. Then relax the musculature and for a few minutes consciously sense this feeling. Who is familiar with Jacobson’s Progressive Muscle Relaxation is well advised to practice according to his instructions
  • Laugh! Laughing automatically helps the body reduce tenseness and leaves behind a feeling of relaxation and comfort. Who profits from this before tournaments can set up a playlist of funny videos to watch before the duels start.
  • Listen to music! Who is fond of classical music is in advantage. This type of music has been proven to relax unborn in their mothers’ wombs. Add Giovanni Allevi to the favorite playlist on your iPod and dive deep into the calming sounds 15 minutes before the tournament begins.

Surrounding

The more familiar one is with their surroundings, the higher the level of concentration. This is what they say in science. Supposedly, the falling level of concentration can be compensated by taking along a familiar item. A talisman next to the board can’t hurt.

Losing track of thoughts

The arch enemy of concentration is intellectual straying. One thought leads to another and one has already lost the common threat. Here is a selection of tips for those who are confronted with challenges in their lives that consume all thoughts and cannot rest for a few hours:

  • When going to bed the night before a tournament, take pen and paper and write down in bullet points all thoughts, worries, or even solutions that come to your mind spontaneously. This helps slowing down the merry go round of private and professional life. ‘Paused’ thoughts can later on be picked up again with the help of this paper.
  • Who is fighting the need to think far ahead and around many corners, needs to try to focus on the essentials of the moment during the game. Mantras like ‘Solve the problem!’ or ‘Find the best move!’ can be extraordinarily helpful to keep the head in the game and to focus on the current positioning.

Tolerance for frustration

Who has little tolerance for frustration is definitely in disadvantage. This causes concentration to break down, while all efforts to success are cut out after a moment of disappointment. Such disappointment may be defeat in practice or tournament, and even a single move that doesn’t satisfy to the fullest or triggers a countermove that hasn’t been accounted for. As long as the game isn’t lost just yet, it is not the time to bury our heads in the sand. On the contrary, one should fight the disappointment and continue the battle. To work on the tolerance for frustration and personal expectations it is important to closely watch the own attitude during each and every practice. ‘It is okay to make mistakes. I will reach my goal all the same. Now I will concentrate on solving the problem.’ Praise yourself and pat yourself on the back. Not only for victories but also for small successful steps and achievements, because every single step is a step towards your goal.

Read more about how to improve your ability to concentrate! In Part 3 we will focus on effective exercises for your daily routine ..

 

 written by Sarah, translated by Birthe

 

 

 

How Do I Improve My Ability To Concentrate?

Part 1: Creating optimal physical conditions

According to Wikipedia, concentration is defined as focusing all attention on one particular activity, reaching a short-term goal, or solving an assigned problem. It is no surprise then, that concentration in chess tournaments is one of the essential keys to success.

KonzentrationIt’s all about not getting distracted, about concentrating on the given positionings for up to six hours, about calculating, estimating, and maneuvering without straying from the subject. As this requires high intellectual effort, many players (even professionals) face problems in the persistence and continuity of keeping up concentration during such long periods of time. Even players like the grandmaster Jan Gustafsson report headaches and difficulties in concentrating after five hours.

The capability to concentrate depends on several influential factors which we will be discussing in the three parts of this month’s column: The body, the mind, and the practice.

Today, in Part 1, Chessimo will introduce you to the physical conditions that create optimal powers of concentration.

Who sticks to the following recommendations will be able to significantly improve their concentration in practice and at tournaments.

Nutrition

A balanced and healthy diet supports the ability to concentrate. Hereby it is important to include an adequate amount of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. To cover the body’s daily need, we recommend linseed oil, hempseed oil, walnut oil, and rapeseed oil for cooking. Exotic types of oil, such as chia oil, perilla oil, and sacha inchi oil contain an even larger amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Fish should also be a regular component of your meals: salmon, anchovy, herring, mackerel, and white tuna also contain the important fatty acids.

Evenly important is a steady supply of vitamins and nutrients, especially Vitamin B. The different types of Vitamin B are found in fish, liver products, dairy products, broccoli, spinach, and green cabbage. The Vitamin B12, by the way, cannot be found in any plant products and can only be supplied to the body through animal food products (vegetarians are advised to add nutritional supplements to their daily diet).

Another important element is a balanced blood glucose level (also known as blood sugar level). The brain is reliant on steady glucose delivery to function perfectly. Who recognizes a reduced brain performance or even suffers from shaky hands and increased perspiration, is likely to have low blood glucose level. Glucose is also referred to a dextrose and is supplied to the body by sufficient food intake. Skipping breakfast on the tournament day out of nervousness is therefore not an option. Since the blood sugar level decreases a few hours after ingestion, players should take in small snacks, such as apples or pears, during the tournament. Concentrated dextrose can also help boosting the brain performance. But as the effect diminishes quickly, it should be used only towards the end of the tournament day.

Sleep

A good night sleep is essential. Tiredness limits our ability to concentrate tremendously. There is no certain answer to the question of how many hours of sleep an adult needs per night. People’s needs are as diverse as their genetic make-up. Generally, the nightly rest should last somewhere between six and eight hours. Less or more hours of sleep, can have equally negative impact on the body which is scientifically proven. One factor that is often paid too little attention to is the accordance of the sleeping and tournament rhythm.

A so-called ‘Powernap’ can also severely improve concentration during tournaments. It is a small nap during the day that lasts about 10 to 20 minutes. During this time, the cerebrum regenerates. The art is to wake up after 20 minutes, before the so-called deep sleep (REM) phase kicks in. Sleep scientists agree that such short periods of sleep improve our concentration, performance, and responsiveness (Companies like BASF, Opel, and Lufthansa even provide space and time for power-napping at the work place).

Exercise

Cardio is another key element to optimal ability to concentrate. Who plays sports that require high endurance (like soccer or basketball) is already on the right track. Even better are pure endurance sports, such as hiking, walking, nordic walking, jogging, marathons, biking, ergometer training, speed skating, ice skating, swimming, cross-country, triathlons, rowing, paddling, and mountain climbing. Optimal are approximately 30 minutes per day. Who practices several of these endurance sports is recommended to be very aware of the movements and feel the body while moving. This is also not the place and time for analysis – free your mind from your thoughts and try to withdraw from the world for a while. Who is absolutely unathletic and rather avoids exercising can still make progress by juggling. It is also recommended to get up during tournaments and walk around once concentration has begun to fade.

Drinking

Sufficient liquid intake is indispensable. Drinking is important before, during, and after the duel. Similar to glucose (see 1st subtopic), players are advised to forego beverages with caffeine, such as coffee, coke, and energy drinks, as the energy boost is only a short-term effect.

Read more about how to improve your ability to concentrate! In Part 2 we will focus on the mind and psyche..

written by Sarah, translated by Birthe