Does your play improve with alcohol consumption?

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Paolo Casaschi
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Re: Does your play improve with alcohol consumption?

Post by Paolo Casaschi » Fri Aug 23, 2013 12:57 pm

Well, if the answer to your question is YES, wouldn't this match the definition of doping as assuming a substance that artificially improves your performance while having known side-effects harming your general health?

Actually, writing this, I wonder if alcohol is already included in the IOC anti-doping list (that chess players should be tested against); you certainly don't want anyone drunk while boxing or running the 100m, but I assume nobody tried that at the Olympics :-)

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Paolo Casaschi
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Re: Does your play improve with alcohol consumption?

Post by Paolo Casaschi » Fri Aug 23, 2013 1:18 pm

Paolo Casaschi wrote:Well, if the answer to your question is YES, wouldn't this match the definition of doping as assuming a substance that artificially improves your performance while having known side-effects harming your general health?

Actually, writing this, I wonder if alcohol is already included in the IOC anti-doping list (that chess players should be tested against); you certainly don't want anyone drunk while boxing or running the 100m, but I assume nobody tried that at the Olympics :-)
I could not resist a bit of googling on the subject. Doping rules are so random and this is no exception. Apparently, according to the IOC approved list [1] alcohol is forbidden only in certain sports and only during the actual competition. The sports that forbid alcohol are the random list of: Aeronautic (FAI), Archery (FITA), Automobile (FIA), Karate (WKF), Motorcycling (FIM) and Powerboating (UIM). Interesting that you cant do archery while drunk but apparently shooting with a gun/rifle is allowed. Also you cant fight Karate while drunk but Boxing and all other martial arts are ok.

This might not be the all story, or it might have been different in the past, Here [2] there's a report of a pentathlete losing a bronze medal because of alcohol doping.

The question remain, should Chess (FIDE) be added to the random list of sports forbidding alcohol?

[1] http://www.wada-ama.org/Documents/World ... 013-EN.pdf
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doping_at_ ... es#History

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Does your play improve with alcohol consumption?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Fri Aug 23, 2013 1:32 pm

Paolo Casaschi wrote: The question remain, should Chess (FIDE) be added to the random list of sports forbidding alcohol?
Chess should be removed from the list of activities subject to WADA. It's basically a charade to support those national federations where there are legal and financial advantages in being classified as a sport. It had a close call with Ivanchuk when he appeared to refuse to take a test, but can you imagine the derision if one of the top players was banned for taking the wrong kind of cough medicine?

In game computer assistance is by far the bigger potential problem.
Last edited by Roger de Coverly on Fri Aug 23, 2013 2:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Paolo Casaschi
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Re: Does your play improve with alcohol consumption?

Post by Paolo Casaschi » Fri Aug 23, 2013 1:45 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Paolo Casaschi wrote: The question remain, should Chess (FIDE) be added to the random list of sports forbidding alcohol?
Chess should be removed from the list of activities subject to WADA. It's basically a charade to support those national federations where there are legal and financial advantages in being classified as a sport. It had a close call with Ivanchuk when he appeared to refuse to take a test, but can you imagine the derision of one of the top players was banned for taking the wrong kind of cough medicine?

In game computer assistance is by far the bigger potential problem.
It's a very principled position.
In the rest of Europe many chess federations are extremely happy with the compromise of some useless anti-doping tests in exchange for substantial amounts of government funding. I'd say: not a bad deal.

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Re: Does your play improve with alcohol consumption?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Fri Aug 23, 2013 2:42 pm

Paolo Casaschi wrote: In the rest of Europe many chess federations are extremely happy with the compromise of some useless anti-doping tests in exchange for substantial amounts of government funding. I'd say: not a bad deal.
There was this case in Austria which only the German edition of the chessbase site reported.
http://de.chessbase.com/home/TabId/176/PostId/306530

This was over six years and concerned the testing of a female player of a rating standard around 1700.

Does the absence of more recent stories indicate that this practice has ceased?

stevencarr

Re: Does your play improve with alcohol consumption?

Post by stevencarr » Sat Aug 24, 2013 11:52 pm

There is a saying.

You don't have to be mad to be a chess player. You can be an alcoholic instead.

Allegedly, J.H. Blackburne was paid in whisky at the legendary 1895 Hastings tournament, and that his 'fee' only lasted 6 rounds.

'"I find that whiskey is a most useful stimulus to mental activity, especially when one is engaged in a stiff and prolongued sitruggle. All chess masters indulge moderately in wines or spirits. Speaking tor myself, alcohol clears my brain, and I always take a glass or two when playing."'

And, of course, Tal was no enemy of the bottle. Neither was Alekhine or Stein.

Any more world class players who were alcoholics?

Judging by the appearance of Efim Geller, perhaps he could be added to the list?

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

Post by Mats Winther » Sun Aug 25, 2013 5:31 am

stevencarr wrote: Any more world class players who were alcoholics?

Judging by the appearance of Efim Geller, perhaps he could be added to the list?
Gideon Ståhlberg was heavy on the bottle, which contributed to his premature death at 59 years of age. In that era, alcoholism was widespread. /Mats

stevencarr

Re: Does your play improve with alcohol consumption?

Post by stevencarr » Sun Aug 25, 2013 10:36 pm

There is a story about Ratmir Kholmov who was Black and played 1 e4 Nc6 2 d4 b6 3 Nf3 e5 4 dxe5 and wondered why his Gruenfeld didn't seem to be working very well.

Now that's what I call drunk!

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

Post by John Clarke » Sun Aug 25, 2013 11:15 pm

Gerald Abrahams (who beat Ragozin in the 1946 USSR-England radio match) once remarked that he had conquered a Soviet colossus: " .... admittedly not their soberest colossus .... ".

William Winter too is generally agreed to have been over-fond of drink, one of many factors in a shambolic life-style that saw him dead at only 57. He himself always denied that he had an alcohol problem, but that's pretty standard.
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Paolo Casaschi
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Re: Does your play improve with alcohol consumption?

Post by Paolo Casaschi » Mon Aug 26, 2013 2:30 pm

stevencarr wrote:And, of course, Tal was no enemy of the bottle. Neither was Alekhine or Stein.
Not sure those are the best examples, most likely they have been great players *despite* the alcohol weakness.
Didn't Alekhine lose the world championship title to Euwe partially due to alcohol abuse (and re-gained the title easily when playing sober)?
Wasn't Tal major weakness the ill health (likely made worse by alcohol abuse)?

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Re: Does your play improve with alcohol consumption?

Post by MJMcCready » Thu Aug 29, 2013 6:35 am

Paolo Casaschi wrote:
stevencarr wrote:
Didn't Alekhine lose the world championship title to Euwe partially due to alcohol abuse (and re-gained the title easily when playing sober)?


Wasn't Tal major weakness the ill health (likely made worse by alcohol abuse)?

It's generally agreed that Alekhine lost rather than Euwe won their first match though it is also often said that Alekhine under-estimated Euwe too. helath reason are usually cited as the reason for the loss.

It is also argued that Tal had a morphine addiction which contributed to his poor health, and that during the Havana Olympiad he was bottled due to his drunkness.

Given that most if not all European countries have strong drinking cultures, it is to some degree inevitable that there will be a long list of chess players whom were fond of the bottle.

JustinHadi

Re: Does your play improve with alcohol consumption?

Post by JustinHadi » Thu Aug 29, 2013 3:15 pm

I (ECF 154) played this game on 3 pints. One before the game and two during.

http://chesscircuit.blogspot.co.uk/2013 ... day-1.html

About a 700 point rating improvement for 30 moves.

More tests required for scientific accuracy.

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Matt Mackenzie
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Re: Does your play improve with alcohol consumption?

Post by Matt Mackenzie » Thu Aug 29, 2013 6:18 pm

Tal was "bottled" at that Olympiad for playing away - allegedly.

Easy for those of us who only grew up with the middle-aged/elderly Misha to forget that he was a bit of a ladies man in his youth :wink:
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Re: Does your play improve with alcohol consumption?

Post by PeterTurland » Thu Aug 29, 2013 6:43 pm

I played the other day and won whilst stone cold sober, the thing was, I did not enjoy it, because it was far too stressful.

The only reason I played was, I had reinstalled my OS and wanted to check my FICS connection still worked ok.

The thing about me is, alchohol I find, is an anaesthetic.

Stewart Reuben
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Re: Does your play improve with alcohol consumption?

Post by Stewart Reuben » Sat Aug 31, 2013 9:35 am

Tal had a claw hand. Apparently that is a sign of a congenital liver complaint. He should never have drunk alcohol. The smoking was also awful. What a loss when so young.
Many chessplayers find it difficult to unwind after they have played chess. Thus they drink alcohol to excess, just as PeterTurland said above.
The Soviet players seemed to have particular problems. Either this has diminished, or I am no longer in the same social situation as years gone by.

I have discussed the matter of whether drinking alcohol in the playing area should be banned. The general feeling seemed to be not to do so. Why introduce new regulations? When I am in charge and see people drinking alcohol, usually beer, and there are juniors around, I ask them to desist. It is setting a bad example. I have never had any problem with this softly, softly approach.

When playing poker in Vegas for large sums, I would speak to the cocktail waitress privately and say that I would want tonic water. Then, at the table, I would ask her for a vodka and tonic. Some of the other professional players would then think I was a lush. They were an abstemious lot. It was much more likely that people would snort cocaine. They would play for days on end. I would go to bed, come back the following day and they would still be playing.
The amazing thing was that the quality of their play didn't seem to deteriorate.

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