When you think of physical fitness and sports the image that comes to your mind is of a sportsperson straining muscles to build up strength to perform on the field. You wouldn’t associate any sort of physical fitness with a sport like chess as the only bodily activity involved is pushing pieces on a board.
But chess players too need to maintain a good level of physical fitness because sitting on a chair for six to seven hours with a few walkabouts in the playing halls does cause fatigue and is detrimental to chances of winning the match.
“You have to be able to concentrate and though concentration is a mental thing you need stamina too. In chess, a small mistake can cost you the game. If you are tired then you make errors in calculations,” says reigning World Champion Viswanathan Anand.
“If you don’t have the energy, if you have a weak body, your mind is also weak. Only a strong body has a strong mind.”
Anand says the chess world woke up to the concept of physical fitness a couple of decades back. “I started getting real about my fitness around 1994. By 1998-99, I was seriously following a routine and now fitness has become part of my training. That’s the first thing.”
Though he does not play other sports to build his fitness, Anand goes to a gym regularly, cycles at home and goes swimming too. He also goes for long walks, which help him divert attention from chess and are a good exercise too.