American open chess tournaments dictate an intense rhythm of several rounds played every day. I like the idea of playing events in one weekend and pick the quickest schedule available. There certainly is little room for game preparation. There is little time for anything aside from playing the games really. Contrary to the common belief among chess players, I do not like to sit around trying to save energy. I believe you get more energy for your body and mind as you come out for some fresh air and exercise!
This weekend I am set to face 47 players simultaneously while blindfolded and exercising on a spin bike. Aside from the intellectual magnanimity of the challenge, I will likely get an ultra-marathon distance worth of a work out! Exercising while playing chess not only helps direct blood flow to my brain, but also empowers me with a consistent rhythm of play. Once I get in the rhythm, exercising creates “white noise” vacuum for my thoughts and visualization process to flow.
Similar to the paradigm of “body in motion stays in motion”, the mind will go along with the rhythm of your physiology. The key to maintaining a successful pace and performance over many hours of play, is to keep “spinning”. The subconscious mind decides and executes 90% of our day-to-day decision-making process. Thus, set with the right strategy, the mind will recognize and follow the needed steps along the map of the world record journey. The mindset necessary for success is thus more of a meditative ultra-marathon like state rather than a power-lifting effort.
Speaking of meditation, I tend to do yoga whenever I get a chance. This past weekend in Costa Mesa I discovered a yoga place across the street from the American Open venue. I started off with a strength oriented class in the morning and took quick power naps during restorative classes in the afternoon. Similarly as you relax and stretch out your body, the mind will follow and run at a much more efficient pace. Staying fresh through a long battle is key to a successful event. A sense of awareness during quiet moments of meditation gives you the focus you need during your decisive rounds.
Lastly, I watch my nutrition. Because I have been traveling a lot, in the past year I transitioned towards a more inclusive diet of fish, eggs, and meats. Animal products offer lots of great flavors and savory recipes. It sure is much easier to find a chicken Caesar than a quinoa kale salad at the airport. Despite the added challenge, recently I decided to get back into vegan groove. It certainly is a personal preference of what you like to include in your diet. Personally, on a vegan diet, I sure notice the difference of greater mental clarity, calm, and higher level of energy left at the end of an intense day.
Here are a couple games from one of the toughest events I endured: a 15-player blindfold exhibition match in Minneapolis, organized by Beginner’s Mind Chess. Games are annotated by the event organizer, National Master Dane Mattson.
Nastassja Matus is ranked #1 in the U.S. for girls age 12.
Learn more about Grandmaster Timur’s upcoming record-breaking blindfold chess event:
The Blindfold Chess World Record Event takes place on December 3rd at 8 a.m. in Las Vegas, NV. Watch the live stream broadcast on the Blindfold King Twitch TV stream. For more information, visit his Official Website and Twitter page.