Tag Archives: Chess

5 questions to ask yourself before you move



Have you ever had that moment when you realize you made a mistake, right after you made your move? You can’t believe your own eyes?! You almost feel like pulling your own hair out?! You’re not alone! It happens to the very best: Garry Kasparov blundered his queen against Viswanathan Anand in this legendary blitz game from 1996 in Geneva. We’ve all heard that every move has a consequence and one should think before to move. But how exactly? Here are 5 questions to ask yourself before you make your move.

1 Are there any immediate threats from my opponent?

As a result of his or her last move, is your opponent threatening any immediate tactical combinations such as double attacks, skewers, discovered checks, deflections, trapped pieces …? Can your opponent check you and follow the check up with any of the above? Can your opponent threaten a checkmate and follow the threat up with any of the above? Can your opponent capture one of your pieces and upon recapture from your side follow up with any of the above? Can your opponent approach your king, expose your king or entice your king towards more dangerous waters?





2 How did my opponent’s last move change the position?

Now it’s time to have a closer look at the chess board: observe what has happened to the position. Every move has a consequence and firstly, you want to identify the consequences of your opponent’s last move. Is there any piece of yours under attack now? Any files, ranks or diagonals that are now opened up or shut down? Which squares have become available for your pieces? Which squares are no longer available? It’s important to not only look at where the piece has moved to but also where it has moved from: what was the piece doing at it’s original square in the first place? Did (s)he create any weaknesses by leaving that square?





3 What is the long term strategic plan of my opponent?

Now it’s time to ask yourself the question why: why did your opponent make this move? What’s the purpose of the move? Is (s)he planning an attack anytime soon? Maybe it’s a prophylactic move? Maybe (s)he’s just gradually improving his/her position?

Don’t trick yourself into believing that your opponent doesn’t know what (s)he is doing. Even though this might be true occasionally, you want to play every game, every move as if you’d be playing yourself.

Your opponent, your opponent, your opponent…. What about me???
Yes, in chess, it’s important to focus on the other person first. It’s almost as if you’re listening to what your opponent tells you with his/her last move. Once you have a better understanding of your opponent’s intentions, it’s time to think about your move and come with a response.

4 How can I prevent my opponent’s plan?

Again my opponent??? One more question to keep at the back of your mind before you build your own plan. After question 3, you have a better understanding of what your opponent is trying to do. Make sure that after whatever move you’re planning to make, your opponent can’t just run his plan freely without any obstruction from your part.




5 What’s my biggest opportunity?

By now, you have a pretty good idea of what your opponent is trying to achieve and how you can prevent it from happening. Go through questions 1 and 3 again but from your point of view this time. This serves as the basis for forming your own plan. Plenty of ideas are coming to mind now and it’s time to make a decision: many good candidate moves but how do you select the best one? What’s my biggest opportunity? The answer might surprise you: LET IT GO! Take a deep breath, exhale slowly, follow your gut feeling and make your move!




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 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.


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.




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 😉






How Much Money Do Chess Professionals Make?



Many enthusiastic chess players wonder at some point in their career whether or not they can make a living from their hobby. This thought of earning money through passionately playing on the board tempts many.

Today, we report about different ways for chess players to earn money.


Significant Amounts of Prize Money for Top-Professionals

It is no surprise at all that Magnus Carlsen should have it together financially. For only the last two World Championship titles he took home over two million US Dollars ($900,000 in 2014 and $1,500,000 in 2013. The runner-ups are rewarded with not much less than that – Visvanathan Anand still made $600,000 in 2014 and $900,000 in 2013 when losing the World Championship duels.

To qualify as Magnus Carlsen’s challenger chess players have to prove themselves through a set of hurdles: For starters, one must win the FIDE Grand Prix. Four Grand Prix tournaments are being held for the upcoming World Championship. Each of the sixteen participants must compete in three out of four events. The prize money fund for each tournament amounts to €120,000, €20,000 of which go to the victor. The right to participate in these tournaments is reserved exclusively for the world-class players, who make quite a salary with their performances. Within the last few weeks, Hikaru Nakamura won £20,000 at the Tradewise Gibraltar Open, Yanyi Yu was rewarded with $25,000 at the Qatar Masters Open, while Vladimir Kramnik and Anish Giri received $15,000 and $10,000 at the same event. Nevertheless, most of the top-class players don’t make a fortune with only participating in chess tournaments. Fabiano Caruana, number 2 in worldwide standings (right behind Magnus Carlsen) participated in a number of tournaments during the last twelve months: Grenke Chess Classic (4th), London Chess Classic (6th), Grand Prix (7th), Sinquefield Cup (1st, $100,000 prize money), Torneio Agosto (3rd), World Championship in Blitz Chess (36th) and Rapid Chess (2nd, $24,000), as well as the Zurich Chess Challenge (2nd). Participating in chess tournaments he made an average monthly salary of $10,000, in which the victory at the Sinquefield Cup weighs heavily.


Open Tournaments as a Source of Income?

The world’s Top 20 does not only profit from prize money. Most tournament organizers decorate themselves with prestigious names and offer the professional players free participation, board & lodging. Many chess players in their early careers can only dream of such invitation. Along with travelling expenses, they usually pay high entry fees and board & lodging from their own pocket. Prize funds, if even existent, barely cover the incurred costs. The victor of the recent Amateur Chess Championship, with participants of ELO-ratings under 2,000 points, on the Greek island Evia won €1,000 prize money. Chess enthusiasts who have not made it to the “who-is-who” of chess yet may categorize this sport an expensive hobby rather than as a lucrative additional income. Competition is fierce at open tournaments, winning chances are low, and the risks of only becoming richer in experience are high.


Alternative: Team Membership

To achieve a reliable extra income most professionals have no other option than joining a team (or many teams) in league games. Regardless of the game results players are paid for tournament participation. The salaries vary between clubs and professional level and amount to €150 to €500. The goal of most players is to participate in as many league games as possible – and they enjoy a very special privilege in this sport. In chess, players have the right to represent several different countries at a time. Only at the European Chess Club Cup players have to decide which country they would like to represent at the tournament. However, only the best of the best have this difficult decision to make.


Having More Than One Career Pillar

Government support for chess is very limited in some countries (in Germany’s case chess was almost completely cut off), so that many players do not have the opportunity to focus on their chess career. Many young talents are forced to reduce their passion to a spare-time activity – next to high school, college, or job training. Below an ELO-rating of 2650 points it is close to impossible to earn more with chess than is invested in it. This is in distinct contrary to countries like China, Russia, or India where chess prodigies have all kinds of possibilities to receive intensive coaching.


Expertise as an Additional Source of Income

As many countries don’t offer their chess talents sufficient sources of income in league membership and/or tournament participation, ‘All-rounders’ have better chances to make a living from their passion for chess. Enthusiasm for the sport can be profitable in neighboring businesses as well – Professionals pass on their expertise as coaches and built a second pillar in their pay-roll. There is always an option of publicizing books, eBooks, specialists’ articles, newspaper columns, blogs, instructional videos, and online comments to make additional income. Whoever has solid expertise and good game performance but isn’t exactly a prodigy must be creative today and always keep an eye open for innovative ideas and engagements. Undoubtedly, it is a time-consuming business to make money with chess.

written by Sarah, translated by Birthe

The Best Christmas Gifts for Chess Fans

Are you still looking for a Christmas Present for you’re a chess enthusiast, whether it’s your grandfather, friend, or boss? Are you a chess fan yourself and yet again, like every year, don’t know what to put on your wish list for Christmas? Stop worrying – Chessimo has collected a few neat gift ideas for any budget that will lift the spirits of chess fans!

Little somethings for low budget gift-givers (under 20 EUR)

Christmas Under 20EUR

For only 4.20 USD zazzle offers different sets of Chess-themed Poker Chips, some of which you can even design yourself! They are available in the US, almost all of Europe, Brazil, Asia, and other countries. The perfect gift for chess fanatics with a weak spot for card games.


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If you want to give a gift to someone who not only loves chess but also culinary goodies, a Christmas Stocking is an ideal choice! It can be spiced up with all kinds of delicious stocking fillers and is a great example for how to make someone happy on a low budget. (In Germany available at Schach-T-Shirts.de for 12.99 EUR)


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For those who love to party. This popular Chess Drinking Game is available in any imaginable version. Monsterzeug.de offers it for 14.95 EUR, Amazon even has an edition with glass board for under 8 EUR!


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Who can’t stop thinking about chess even at the office, will certainly appreciate a mouse pad or a coffee mug that unmistakably belong to him or her. Several Mouse Pads, Mugs, Note Pads, and Calendars with cool chess designs are available at man only shops worldwide at prices ranging from 10 to 20 USD.


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Guitar Picks with different chess design are the perfect present for all your friends who have a thing for music. Available for 16.95 USD at zazzle.

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Unforgettable Gifts at a medium budget

Christmas Under Medium Budget

Some of us like to make fashion statements. You will surely please those with Shirts, Neckties, or Aprons with chess motives. A large number of websites around the globe offer a wide range of products with great designs for 20 to 40 USD. Check out Endgame (USA), Cafepress (Germany), and almost worldwide zazzle.


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Austrian Motive-themed Coins can be a real surprise for coin collectors and chess fans. Waiting for your order at MA Shops for 50 bucks!

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Chess players are said to be couch potatoes. It is time to show the world otherwise! One way to do so are the Chess-themed Ping Pong Paddle, seen at zazzle for 31.95 USD.

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Christmas Under Medium Budget 4

For about 50 USD you can buy Cell Phone Cases with great chess designs. Technology freaks will most likely love Notebook Cases or Portable Speakers that show their love for check! All items seen at zazzle (available in the US, almost all of Europe, Brazil, Asia, ..).

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Exquisite presents without price limits

Exquisite PresentsCollectors love extraordinary Chess Boards with creative chess pieces. These are available in many editions made from wood, metal, plastic, glass, or even gold, diamonds, and carbon. There are absolutely no price limits. Who owns millions might be interested in some of the most expensive chess boards in the world. Starting at 816 EUR, Hand-made Sets are available at H&H, a southern German company. You can, however, find significantly less expensive high-quality boards in the World Wide Web that aren’t any less interesting and individual.


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At Amazon we have found this Chess Table with removable board and a hidden Backgammon board on the inside. Not exactly a bargain buy, but portably an incredibly valuable treasure to passionate players.

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Exquisite Presents 3For 80 bucks you can sign up for an Annual Magazine Subscription of the New in Chess Magazine. The deal currently includes four extra publications for new subscribers. ANY chess fan will love this present, if he or she isn’t already a subscriber of this treasure of chess literature.

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Now we’re ready for Christmas!

 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

The Best Chess Variations | Part 1

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.

1. Chess960 / Fischer Random Chess

This variation was created by the grandmaster Bobby Fischer. It is all about avoiding memorized opening moves by randomly drawing one out of the 960 possible opening positions.

Instructions (place white pieces first and follow to set up the black pieces in symmetrically identical order):

Who would like to practice his or her ability of finding creative solutions, will find great pleasure in playing Chess960 from time to time!

2. Casablanca Chess

For this variation we recommend interested readers to purchase additional chess pieces (of course you can also substitute your chess set with other items) and a 10×8 board. The chess world champion José Raúl Casablanca came up with this variation in which a JANUS (combination of Bishop and Knight) and a KANZLER (combination of Rook and Knight) per color set replaces the remaining pieces.

Starting position: Rook – Knight – Janus – Bishop – Queen – King – Bishop – Chancellor – Knight – Rook.

An alternative is the starting position by Asberg which mostly minimizes the advantage of the white color: Rook – Janus – Knight – Bishop – Queen – King – Knight – Chancellor – Rook.

3. Andernach-Chess

The starting position and the rule set of regular checkmate remain, but with one severe alteration: All pieces of the offence (except for the King) must change colors. Therefore, some of the fundamental thoughts and tactics are turned upside down. Definitely worth trying!

4. Nuclear Chess

In Nuclear Chess, similar to the detonation of a nuclear bomb, all accompanying squares of a lost piece must be cleared, too. These duels tend to be extremely short, and with the significant opening advantage of the white party the rules must be altered and extended, so that, for instance, only Officers but not Pawns are eliminated by the explosions. Other variations rule out the events of King In Check and Checkmate completely, or leave scoring moves of clomid for women Pawns without the fatal explosions. In another variation that minimizes the opening advantage of white the Pawns are eliminated by explosions, while the Kings are unharmed by plavix generic scoring moves on accompanying squares. The King is then only in danger during direct attacks. Here, the King may also strike himself, but not a covered piece, even if the covering piece was eliminated by a previous explosion.

5. Soccer Chess

A regular chess equipment is enough to play this variation that goes by the common rule set. There are 5 minutes of thinking time per duel and player. The King is treated like all other pieces and checkmate is therefore redundant. Both parties will now try to score ‘goals’. The white goal is formed by squares d1 and e1, the black goal by d8 and e8. If black manages to bring a figure into the area of the white goal, and vice versa, the game is over.

written by Sarah, translated by Birthe




Chess in Politics

There are many skills that are equally meaningful and promising in chess and politics. It is therefore not a surprise that many of the most influential politicians in history played (and still play) chess as a balance to their legal duties.

Chessimo will introduce you to important characters in current politics who have a thing for our favorite thinking sport.


Willy Brandt (1913 – 1992)

The fourth Federal Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany and Peace Nobel Prize laureate was not only a politically clever and skilled man, but also had remarkable strategies. He was a tough fighter at the chess board too.

Angela Merkel (born 1954)

The first female chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany (since 2005) is not known to be an enthusiastic supporter of checkmate. At least, she has been collecting large wooden chess pieces at her office. Every year, the collection is extended by a new piece (she currently owns eight such pieces) which is given to her traditionally by the Association of Forest Owners.

Fidel Castro (born 1926)

The former state president of Cuba has been in office for 49 years and is therefore considered the longest-governing (non-monarchical) ruler of the 20th and 21st century. He enjoyed playing chess and held an ELO-rating of 1900 points.

Ché Guevara (1928 – 1967)

The leader of the Cuban Revolutionary Movement (1956 – 1959) was a great chess enthusiast with an ELO of 1950 points.

Boris Yelzin (1931 – 2007)

The democratically elected president (1991 – 1999) of the Russian Federation is nowadays a common symbol of the overall downturn of the country for many Russians, as he led Russia into bankruptcy during his legislation period and caused poverty amongst the population. Whether his tactics on the chess board was mature than that – we will never find out. At least he founded the Russian Sverdlosk Chess Club with his friend Anatoli Karpov.

Jaques Chirac (born 1932)

France’s president from 1995 to 2007 is known for his passion for chess.

Benjamin Franklin (1706 – 1790)

As one of the founding fathers of the United States of America he signed the Declaration of Independence. In 1768 he published an essay about checkmate that is still considered one of the two most popular publications about chess in America.

George Washington (1732 – 1799)

The first president of The United States of America (1789 until 1797) was passionate about three things: Reading, writing, and checkmate. He even owned a set of ivory chess pieces that is a displayed exhibit at the National Museum in Washington, D.C.

John Adams (1735 – 1826)

After George Washington’s time in office ended, John Adams took over the presidency of the United States of America from 1797 until 1801. In his biography he wrote that he spent his evenings in France with music, card games, chess, and backgammon.

Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826)

Thomas Jefferson was the third president of the United States of America, in office from 1801 until 1809. Checkmate was one of his favorite leisure activities; he even owned an impressive collection of chess sets and chess publications.

Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865)

16th president of the United States of America, governing from 1861 until 1865. He spent much time over chess boards. The set of chess pieces he once purchased for his son is now an exhibit in the American Historic Museum.

Theodore Roosevelt (1858 – 1919)

The youngest president in the history of the United States (1901 until 1909) liked playing chess during his hunting trips. In 1904, he even invited some of the country’s chess masters to the White House.

Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882 – 1945)

The only president of the United States who was in office for more than two legislative periods (1993 until his death in 1945) liked dueling Henry Ford in chess when he visited the White House.

John F. Kennedy (1917 – 1963)

The first catholic president of the United States of America (1961 until 1963) was given an extraordinary set of chess pieces by a friend in 1962 with whom he spent a lot of time.

Bill Clinton (born 1946)

The former president of the United States of America (1993 until 2001) played checkmate in the chess team during his studies at the University of Georgetown and still supports an American organization that supports chess lessons at schools.

Barack Obama (born 1961)

Since 2009, the first African-American president of the United States of America is in office. At an age of nine, he was taught how to play checkmate by his stepfather and grandfather. Until today, he enjoys playing chess with his wife Michelle.

written by Sarah, translated by Birthe


Is Chess a Sport?

The German Federal Government considers chess an activity unworthy of support

xxxThere has been a heated discussion, triggered by the German Federal Ministry of Internal Affairs, within the last few weeks whether or not chess is eligible to be referred to as a sport. The ministry currently supports sports in the country with more than 130 Million Euros, 130,000 Euros of which were used each year to promote and support the German Chess Federation. Since 1976, the Federation has been fostered by the German government, and the approximately 100,000 members have been appreciating the financial aid ever since.

The German Olympic Sports Federation caused another uproar in the discussion when it altered its eligibility criteria in December 2013. In consequence, the Chess Federation received a formal denial of further subsidies, sent by the Ministry of Internal Affairs a few weeks ago.

The written statement basically explains that there is no reasonable argument to support this kind of mental exercise in the future, as is lacks motoric activities. In other words, there is not going to be any support for the Chess Federation from 2014 to 2017.

How can we define the term ‘sport’?

The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about sports is probably football. Or athletics. Or any other sport that requires a high level of physical fitness. However, the term ‘sport’ cannot only be defined through exercise. Not even experts agree on what aspects should be taken into consideration when defining a sport. Fact is: Learning a general rule set, playing in accordance with the competition’s conditions, fair-play thinking, and practice are equal elements of a sport – just like motor skills.

Checkmate meets all these requirements. Who has had the pleasure of playing a six-hour tournament session or watching a nine-round blitz chess tournament before, is aware that activity and speedy responsiveness are indispensable elements of the game. Furthermore, there is a number of other well-recognized sports such as shooting, fishing, or golfing that include just as little exercise as chess when comparing them to competitive disciplines.

Dedication that pays off!

With the weight of these aspects, many people agree that chess should and must be considered a sport, which makes the denial of subsidies an unjustified act. The reactions to the Ministry’s statement were fierce. Not only were the public discussions intense. A petition was set up, and one of the parties initiated parliamentary motion about the topic. Luckily, the Budget Committee decided to countermand the denial of subsidies, which gave the chess enthusiasts reason to calm down. The discussion itself remains.

What do you think? Should chess be recognized to be a sport by the Federal Government and society just like other popular sports or is the support unreasonable?

written by Sarah, translated by Birthe



Chess Myths – True or False?

Checkmate is a topic that many discuss and speculate

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about. Superficial knowledge is often the foundation of prejudice and stereotypes that are spread in public. Therefore, Chessimo will get to the bottom of those myths about chess today and will clarify.

Chess Myths

True or False?

1. Chess is an age-old board game

As a matter of fact, the Persians invented a game called “Chaturanga” in 450 AD, which many consider the precursor of today’s checkmate. The game was played on a board with 64 squares but without the recognizable checkmate pattern. The pieces were King, Counselor, Wagon, Elephant, Knight, and Soldier. Unfortunately, we do not know how the game came to Europe and when it was introduced to our ancestors. In 13th century, chess was already one of the Seven Virtues of knights all over Europe and a reformation of the rule set followed in the 15th century in Spain. Ever since, with only little changes, the game has been played accordingly.

Conclusion: Ancient game, but not centuries old.

2. One has to have an extraordinarily high IQ to successfully play chess

The University of Graz confirmed two interesting facts about this particular topic:

Chess players have a higher IQ (113) than the average human (100). Whether playing chess contributes to a higher IQ (read about the personal abilities you can improve through chess here) or intelligent people are simply more attracted by the game, as they trust their capabilities, remains uncertain. Undoubtedly, there are chess grandmasters of both, average IQ and high IQ of 130 and above. Interesting is also the result of Doll and Mayr’s test in 1987: Players of IQs below average (85 to 90) are able to reach ELO-ratings of up to 2000 points. 2200 points and more were reached by players whose IQ levels ranged at 110, which is only slightly above average. The key to a good performance on the chess board is practice and intensive study of the game over a long period of time. A person of average intelligence is by all means capable of standing out with practice and knowledge. If a highly gifted player misses those two, he will certainly not be able to make up for it with his intelligence.

Conclusion: Practice makes the master. A high IQ level is advantageous but not a necessity.

3. Women are not a good as men

In the history of chess there has not once been a female Chess World Champion. Amongst the Top 100 chess players of the world ranks only one woman, Judith Polgár on rank 39. Due to such numbers, many believe that women generally perform worse at chess than men. A few years back, Merim Bilalic, teacher at the University of Oxford and the University of Tübingen, dealt with this statement and evaluated data of the German Chess Federation. The result: Women are equally good at playing chess as men. Unfortunately, and this supports the misbelieving, there are significantly fewer women (7,013) than men (113,386) competing in this sport so that the ratio of players (assuming equal performance of women and men) in theoretical calculations is consistent with the real value of 96 percent.

Conclusion: The difference in gender of 96% can be explained statistically, and thus the male dominance in the world rankings and the number of world championship titles. It is statistical fact that a majority group is more likely to deliver excellent performances than minority groups.

4. No human is better at chess than a computer

In 2003 it was yet to be proven. Back then, Garri Kasparov competed against the world’s best chess computing system of that time. “Deep Juniorwon one of the five matches, so did Garri Kasparov. The remaining three ended in draws.

Today’s best chess computer is Houdini and so far no human was able to prevail over it. While a person can only calculate one positioning per second, Houdini manages to calculate up to 300,000. In the meanwhile, there have been contests among those computing programs to measure their performances. Even their ELO can be measured today. The Top 10 chess programs have ELO-rating ranging from 2954 to 3168 points, which should not be compared to real players’ ELOs as the ranking was generated only from duels between computers.

Conclusion: True. Computers have definitely surpassed humans in matters of chess.

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