Does your play improve with alcohol consumption?

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MJMcCready
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Does your play improve with alcohol consumption?

Post by MJMcCready » Thu Aug 22, 2013 6:05 am

Hi all, I've thought for sometime that if I have one or two beers before a match I play better chess. I think it's because I approach the game in a more relaxed frame of mind and enjoy it more. I'm not talking about large amounts of alcohol here, as that will obviously reduce your ability to compete, but in general, a little alcohol before a game generally helps.

Does anyone have similar thoughts/ experiences?

John Swain
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Re: Does your play improve with alcohol consumption?

Post by John Swain » Thu Aug 22, 2013 7:29 am

MJMcCready wrote:Hi all, I've thought for sometime that if I have one or two beers before a match I play better chess. I think it's because I approach the game in a more relaxed frame of mind and enjoy it more. I'm not talking about large amounts of alcohol here, as that will obviously reduce your ability to compete, but in general, a little alcohol before a game generally helps.

Does anyone have similar thoughts/ experiences?
When I was a student, many moons ago, the university chess club's social secretary's job included the task of arranging 'pint-a-point' tournaments. We would play blitz, 5 minutes or 10 minutes on the clock (my memory is understandably hazy!) and the winner would drink a pint before the next round. There were seven rounds and some players' chess seemed to get better the more they drank. I remember one player, now a well-known IM, who could drink us all under the table.

Needless to say, some players could hold their beer better than others and the resulting "mess" got us banned from a succession of college facilities!

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Mats Winther
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Re: Does your play improve with alcohol consumption?

Post by Mats Winther » Thu Aug 22, 2013 7:50 am

Players who tend to get too tense during the game could benefit from it. But I only get tense during the last phase of the game, when the alcohol effect would have receded. In the beginning of the game I am too lax. I benefit from nicotine (e-cigarettes). The most important psychological factor in chess is to engage in the game and become truly interested in the position. As soon as I get slightly lazy and disinterested, I will make a mistake. I don't think alcohol improves this factor. This strange phenomenon, that we can focus our attention on 64 squares, as if we are playing for our lives, is a transcendental mystery of the human psyche. Aljechin is said to have played for his life in a game against Leon Trotsky. If he won he would be released from prison, otherwise he would be executed. I don't know how much truth there is in this story, but it sounds plausible. Trotsky was both a mass-murderer and a strong chess player. I remember a time in my life when I had personal problems which bore down heavily on me. But during a game of chess, this weight on my shoulders seemed to evaporate for a time, which was a great relief. It was like chess allowed me to transcend reality and stand aside from it. This had a pronounced therapeutic effect. Swedish GM Erik Lundin once used chess in a therapeutic project aimed against alcohol abuse. It worked very well, except in terms of funding. Alcohol is a hideous poison. One shouldn't drink more than a schnapps a day. The pub culture of the Brits must have very detrimental effects.
/Mats

LawrenceCooper
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Re: Does your play improve with alcohol consumption?

Post by LawrenceCooper » Thu Aug 22, 2013 8:10 am

MJMcCready wrote:Hi all, I've thought for sometime that if I have one or two beers before a match I play better chess. I think it's because I approach the game in a more relaxed frame of mind and enjoy it more. I'm not talking about large amounts of alcohol here, as that will obviously reduce your ability to compete, but in general, a little alcohol before a game generally helps.

Does anyone have similar thoughts/ experiences?
I suggest a visit to Bunratty to gather research on the subject :)

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Carl Hibbard
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Re: Does your play improve with alcohol consumption?

Post by Carl Hibbard » Thu Aug 22, 2013 8:19 am

LawrenceCooper wrote:I suggest a visit to Bunratty to gather research on the subject :)
Some Lichfield players were always easy to locate before a Staffordshire county match :shock:
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Greg Breed
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Re: Does your play improve with alcohol consumption?

Post by Greg Breed » Thu Aug 22, 2013 9:07 am

Check out the London League Div 1. One club stands out by its multiple presence there ;) (with tongue ever so slightly in cheek)
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Rob Thompson
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Re: Does your play improve with alcohol consumption?

Post by Rob Thompson » Thu Aug 22, 2013 9:32 am

John Swain wrote: When I was a student, many moons ago, the university chess club's social secretary's job included the task of arranging 'pint-a-point' tournaments. We would play blitz, 5 minutes or 10 minutes on the clock (my memory is understandably hazy!) and the winner would drink a pint before the next round. There were seven rounds and some players' chess seemed to get better the more they drank. I remember one player, now a well-known IM, who could drink us all under the table.

Needless to say, some players could hold their beer better than others and the resulting "mess" got us banned from a succession of college facilities!
Pint-a-point tournaments are still going strong here at Bristol, though I never perform well in them myself...
True glory lies in doing what deserves to be written; in writing what deserves to be read.

James Toon
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Re: Does your play improve with alcohol consumption?

Post by James Toon » Thu Aug 22, 2013 10:22 am

A cautionary tale. I played in a match against Drunken Knights at their premises a few years ago. My opponent was late, so I started drinking before he did. At the time I made the fatal error that lost the game, I had consumed 3 pints of beer to his 2 pints. Of course, other factors such as alcohol tolerance levels may have been relevant.

Dragoljub Sudar
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Re: Does your play improve with alcohol consumption?

Post by Dragoljub Sudar » Thu Aug 22, 2013 10:41 am

Yes!

Some years back David Levens called me a 'pub player' - I regard that as a compliment!

Hey John, we could fix it so that we play against each other when Gambit 1 plays Gambit 2 in 3 weeks time; how about 1/2 pint every time a piece is taken?

PeterTurland
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Re: Does your play improve with alcohol consumption?

Post by PeterTurland » Thu Aug 22, 2013 11:03 am

Interesting question that I can't answer with any accuracy, all I know is, I've sometimes got up in the morning and whilst checking my emails, noticed I had played the night before on FICS and did not remember doing so, and when I have replayed the game through, saying wow! Not always though, sometimes I just got clobbered.

John Townsend
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Re: Does your play improve with alcohol consumption?

Post by John Townsend » Thu Aug 22, 2013 11:05 am

I once played in a league match against an opponent who drank one or two pints of a dark beverage before the game. He quaffed a few more during the game. Late in the opening I remember fancying my chances - not because of the position on the board, but because I hoped that his refreshment was Guinness! Unfortunately, his performance seemed not in the least diminished by his consumption, and he wiped me off the board in about thirty moves. I never did discover what the dark beverage was ...

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Greg Breed
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Re: Does your play improve with alcohol consumption?

Post by Greg Breed » Thu Aug 22, 2013 11:58 am

John Townsend wrote:I once played in a league match against an opponent who drank one or two pints of a dark beverage before the game. He quaffed a few more during the game. Late in the opening I remember fancying my chances - not because of the position on the board, but because I hoped that his refreshment was Guinness! Unfortunately, his performance seemed not in the least diminished by his consumption, and he wiped me off the board in about thirty moves. I never did discover what the dark beverage was ...
Maybe it was Guinness but laced with Fritz nanites! :idea:
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Steven Gardner
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Re: Does your play improve with alcohol consumption?

Post by Steven Gardner » Thu Aug 22, 2013 1:04 pm

My standard of play is definitely inversely proportional to the amount of alcohol consumed. I just lose all motivation to calculate, and I'm much more likely to say to myself "stuff it, let's see if it works". It often doesn't!

John Swain
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Re: Does your play improve with alcohol consumption?

Post by John Swain » Thu Aug 22, 2013 2:38 pm

Dragoljub Sudar wrote:Yes!

Some years back David Levens called me a 'pub player' - I regard that as a compliment!

Hey John, we could fix it so that we play against each other when Gambit 1 plays Gambit 2 in 3 weeks time; how about 1/2 pint every time a piece is taken?
That's quite an idea, Drag, but I'd need to do some serious "training"! :wink: Alternatively, we could just agree a "grandmaster draw" and head for the bar ...

Nevil Chan
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Re: Does your play improve with alcohol consumption?

Post by Nevil Chan » Fri Aug 23, 2013 12:50 am

"Some people are good enough at chess to take it seriously; you are not one of them."

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