Why Blitz Chess is addictive – Dopamine effect of Chess Blitz
Have you ever wondered Why Blitz Chess is addictive ? Especially online Blitz and Bullet time controls? Maybe Neuroscience has an answer and can explain why Blitz Chess is addictive as any online player will testify.
And it has to do with a chemical called Dopamine.
Suggested read – Meet Your Happy Chemicals: Dopamine, Endorphin, Oxytocin, Serotonin by Loretta Graziano Breuning
Our brain records all pleasure experiences, whether they are coming from a soothing music, a good book, a mind stimulant drug, a cash reward, a tasty meal, or playing blitz or bullet chess. Blitz chess is that form of chess wherein each player has to complete the game in a time control of maximum 30 minutes or minimum 5 minutes. Bullet Chess is even faster and has a time control of lesser than 5 minutes.
Technically speaking, in the brain, pleasure has a distinct place called Nucleus Accumbens. Pleasure sensations cause the brain to release the neurotransmitter Dopamine in the Nucleus Accumbens, a group of nerve cells lying beneath the cerebral cortex . This is where the Dopamine release happens whenever we have a pleasurable experience.
Hence neuroscientists refer to the region as the brain’s pleasure center.
Most of the intoxicants such as the famous nicotine to the infamous heroin, and blitz chess (surprise surprise!) cause a particularly powerful release of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens.
Addictive drugs and Blitz Chess therefore provide a direct link to the brain’s reward system by providing the nucleus Accumbens with dopamine.
Read about Brain stimulation reward (BSR)
The Hippocampus creates memories of this rapid satisfaction dose, and the Amygdala creates a conditioned response to certain stimuli akin to the Pavlovian response.
So don’t be surprised when your mind craves for a blitz or two. It’s just asking for a good cup of coffee!
The effect increases manifold, the more you play – so Bullet chess is worse than Blitz because you get a dopamine dose every couple of minutes whereas a Blitz game usually lasts 10 or 20 minutes.
Suggestion: Play Blitz but don’t overdo it.
And don’t play Bullet too often either. Lest you may lose its educative aspect and get a high instead. Remember that too much of Bullet Chess or Blitz Chess may cause Adrenaline peaks that may not be good for everyone (may cause headaches for some).
Bullet doesn’t help much in understanding the strategic nuances of the game. But it helps building a pattern recognition base leading to better intuition, and to get a light feel of the opening. So all is not bad in the case of the Blitz Chess addiction.
After reading this article you will hopefully understand Why Blitz Chess is addictive and how to use it in moderation to help in your chess training.
Further suggested reading from the Editor:
Meet Your Happy Chemicals: Dopamine, Endorphin, Oxytocin, Serotonin by Loretta Graziano Breuning
The Winner Effect: The Neuroscience of Success and Failure
35 Tips for a Happy Brain: How to Boost Your Oxytocin, Dopamine, Endorphins, and Serotonin (Brain Power, Brain Function, Boost Endorphins, Brain Science, Brain Exercise, Train Your Brain) by V. Noot
Habits of a Happy Brain: Retrain Your Brain to Boost Your Serotonin, Dopamine, Oxytocin, & Endorphin Levels by
7 Willpower Tips to Maximize winning chances in chess
Intermediate chess player study tips for improvement in chess – Part 1
6 Things Chess players can learn from 2 year old baby!
What to do when priorities and desires change
Here we are not talking about percentages where 99% is considered as almost too good, to be true. In Chess even 99% is a fail mark as chess results largely depend on either checkmating your opponent or getting checkmated yourself. So how to strengthen your win-switch to 100% result? It all depends on your inner store of willpower. Here are 7 Willpower tips to Maximize winning chances in chess – When Close enough is not Good enough
The other scenario is where you can draw the game either by reaching a draw position – or agreeing to a draw. But we are not talking about that here.
The APA defines willpower this way:
- Willpower is the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.
- Willpower allows us to ignore unwanted thoughts, feelings or desires.
1. Commit to a goal at the outset.
Tightrope yourself with a shoestring so that you cannot have a free way with your temptations. Make sure that you are plugging all those temptation-pulls so that you are riding with your brakes released. In other words temptations and diversions are like a brake applied constantly while driving your car. Get the picture?
It won’t stop you completely, but it will make it harder to move away from your goals.
For example, buy a book instead of downloading it online. That way your conscience will not allow you to give it a pass. You will sit down to read it since you paid for it with your heard-earned cash.
Or carry only a fixed amount of cash with you when you’re on a tight rope budget, and leave your credit cards at home, thereby preventing you from making ‘that impulsive purchase’.
in my own experience as example, a relative of mine felt she was going to the movies too frequently. To counter that, I told her to calculate all the money spent on the tickets and popcorn and when she saw that they amounted to a lot she stopped going to the movies that frequently. By showing the total picture she saw the absurdity of her habits and now she is spending the saved money on useful books that are much needed to increase her expertise.
2. Meditate every day.
Preferably in the morning. It is one of the most difficult-to-start regimen, but once started it will help you so much that you begin to wonder – ‘what was I doing all these years without this essential habit’?
I know that it may seem like a waste of time which could have been spent reading the newspaper or going to sleep an extra 15 minutes but that is just your mind trying to avoid anything that tames it.
Read this tip from Headspace – an U.S. study found that people who meditated daily experienced improved willpower and focus. The researchers found that “those who practiced meditation on a daily basis persisted on tasks longer and made fewer task pullouts, as well as reducing negative feedback after task completion.”
So instead of reaching for your mobile phone or tablet, first thing in the morning and checking all your chats or messages, try spending 15 minutes meditating and reap the benefits of willpower training.
Although it looks simple, sitting still in a yogic posture like Padmasana or Sukhasana, and watching your thoughts in motion is difficult. But the benefits of meditating extend beyond the 15 minutes of quiet every morning. Meditating keeps the mind calm and focused.
3. Exercise regularly.
Cesar Milan training with a dog
If you watched Ceaser Milan’s ‘Dog Whisperer‘ where he documents his dog-training techniques (if you haven’t watched yet shame on you 🙂 ) you must have seen that he first removes all the negative pent up energy in a ferocious dog by taking him/her to a brisk walk or a run.
I remember how he even used one particular dog as a skateboard puller) and the dogs seemed to like it every bit.
What happened after that was that the dogs became calm and obedient after the exercise.
Now what transpired in this effort was that all the energy overflow was tamed by that run and the dog became submissive and calm after that exercise.
Its the same with the human mind.
Going to the gym not only strengthens your body muscles but also your willpower.
4. Get a good night’s sleep.
I use a fitness tracker that comes cheap at amazon. It is called Mi fit (or Mi Band in some countries). What it does is to measure your sleep pattern and tell you how much of deep sleep and light sleep you have had every night. This helps in determining what you are missing.
A deep sleep of more than 1 hour is recommended and if you are falling short try improving it.
A good night’s sleep* provides you with the much-needed mental and physical energy to make it through the upcoming day’s events. If you miss out on your regular dosage of sleep, you’ll feel lethargic and your willpower would become weak. In fact, a lack of sleep can result in impaired reflex action speed and an inability to think clearly.
One study found that this fatigue-impaired state is equivalent to being drunk. So imagine what it can do to your chess!
“Proper rest improves our self-control power and provides a good environment for the brain to function,”
Ryan Clements writes. “Rest reduces the body’s need for glucose, and it allows the body to make better use of what we have.”
If you’re struggling to fall asleep, I suggest moving away from laptop/PC/Mobile screens and reading a paperback book. I do something different – I listen to some heavy meta-physical lectures that make me go to sleep in no time 🙂 But before doing anything make sure you are in bed and almost ready to doze off!
The light from these screens disturbs our body’s circadian rhythm, making our sub-conscious think that it’s daytime when in reality it is time for the sleep.
*A good night’s rest normally means getting seven to eight hours of shut-eye for an adult.
And if this is not sufficient here is one additional benefit from Chess point of view – Good night’s sleep strengthens memory.
5. Eat a healthy nutritious meal
Low glucose levels = weaker willpower. A study revealed that participants who were not fed or did not eat well prior to starting a project gave it up halfway, much earlier than their fully-fed compatriots.
“To keep (your willpower) high, eat regular meals that are full of protein and good carbohydrates, like a sandwich of lean meat and cheese packed between two slices of whole-wheat bread,” Stephanie Booth writes in Real Simple. “And never start a challenging task on an empty stomach.”
Starting each morning with a hearty meal gives your willpower a much needed boost. Small ideas help like the consumption of dry fruit snack such as almonds, walnuts and cashews, and yogurt to maintain high energy levels. Have them either one hour before or after your meals.
Roy F. Baumeister, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology at Florida State University, in Tallahassee, and the author of Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength ($28, amazon.com).
6. Anticipate bottlenecks
It is a given that in all pursuits there will be bottlenecks with your plans. We must assume that roadblocks and diversions will come up and that your motivation may go for a toss when they do. So if you’re having such experiences remember to keep your cool and prepare for them way ahead in advance. Having a fallback makes it more likely that you’ll accomplish your aims.
Sandra Aamodt, Ph.D., is a neuroscientist based in Northern California and a coauthor of Welcome to Your Child’s Brain: How the Mind Grows From Conception to College (~ $26, amazon.com).
7. Read books on the mind and its secrets – (especially for parents of chess playing children)
One of the most influential books about children ever published, Nurture Shock offers a radical perspective on children that tosses a library’s worth of conventional wisdom. Why are kids – even those from the best of homes – still undisciplined and aggressive? The answer is found in a rethinking of parental conflict, discipline, television’s unexpected influence, and social dominance.
The authors of Nurture Shock – Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman‘s New York Magazine articles on the science of children won the magazine journalism award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, as well as the Clarion Award from the Association for Women in Communications. Their articles for Time Magazine won the award for outstanding journalism from the Council on Contemporary Families. Bronson has authored five books, including the #1 New York Times bestseller What Should I Do With My Life?
The author Anshu Jain is a chess coach at Golden Chess Centre, Nanganallur, Chennai. He is available for Chess training and is an expert in Digital Chess training techniques. When he is not teaching Chess he likes to learn computer languages.
Note: The links in this page are affiliate links.
When Priorities and Desires Change.
Have you ever wanted something really bad and after some time, not so much?
When we were just children we had many small desires like buying a comic, a doll or a toy, and we nagged our parents really bad. As teenagers, we wanted to be highly popular and admired by all, an intensity that you may all still retrieve when you see your child doing the same or see your old school pics. Sure enough this desire to be popular, starts to ebb by the beginning of college years. So my thoughts started on what to do When Priorities and Desires Change. How to understand yourself ? How best to aim our desires in a positive direction and focus especially in the game we all love so much – Chess?
So yeah, our desires and their importance fade with time. For example, I am sure as teens, we day-dreamed about a fabulous looking partner. Then came the desire for passionate and intense partners. Even this disappears, albeit to muffled tones at times. Isn’t it a funny thing to talk about when we discuss the way our desires shift or diminish with time?
Flash News – Empire Chess is offering a huge discount on digital and hard copies! Make sure you get the deals while they last.
When Priorities and Desires Change.
Desire may be hugely interpreted as the push and pull of hormones and that is a conception that many of us have been having for a long time. However in due course of time, people understand that their lives are defined by striving for excellence, when we see other successful people and wish we had done something worthwhile when there was still time. Not that we have any shortage of time now but then at age 30 or 40 the enthusiasm fades off for the majority of us.
Everything happens in auto pilot mode and we enter the cocoon of routine.
Additionally, there is another problem that we as chess players, face. We have always wanted to be skillful at many things. We climb up the rating ladder. And after working hard to achieve some chess expertise, we have something called ‘stagnation’ creeping in. We now stop engaging in the activities as such, and this makes me wonder if we would have loved the process as much equally, as if the success we found, was easier to attain. I am also guilty of such stagnations in my life and it takes a great effort to come out of it alone.
Does desire equals a love for the process, for the journey or the attainment of the goal?
With things we never had, it’s harder to find out whether the desire will reduce with time, but core desires are much akin to the desire for love and happiness than the desire to master a skill, which is less of the heart and more of the mind matter – controlled by conscious thinking.
When asked during an interview how he managed to reach the top as a professional Chess Grandmaster, Botvinnik replied with a single word, “Desire!”
All great success ultimately begins with just a small idea, a seed, so to speak, but what makes ideas become reality, is the fuel of human desire. Just an idea alone can give you a temporary feeling of inspiration, but a burning wanting desire is what gets you through all the perspiration necessary to overcome the numerous obstacles along the path.
One secret to overcome stagnation is Clarity – or – refinement of desires. This comes from contrasting experiences, so if you want more clarity, invite more of the new by embracing and accepting new experiences. This is especially crucial for people in their teens and 20s. Your brain learns a lot from experience. If you lack any new experience, then how can your brain know its most important calling? Of course it cannot — you need to train it more.
How are you supposed to discover your favorite hobbies if you do the equivalent of doing just one chore every day? How are you going to discover your favorite food(s) if you are eating the same diet, every single day?
So my suggestion to you when Priorities and Desires change is – do anything and everything if it’s totally new to you.
Like playing a blitz game if you have never played it before or playing a slow time control if you not done it earlier.
The benefit is that you’ll give your brain a lot of experiences to compare and contrast. This will help you choose and fix your tastes.
Then the desire to learn will be long lasting and new everyday, every time.
Rethink about the ambitions/goals you’ve set for yourself. (You have set goals, haven’t you? If not, then do set them first). Before fixing your priorities and goals answer the following and act accordingly:
- How committed are you to achieving these targets?
- Under what conditions would you call it quits?
- What if you could significantly increase your desire to achieve these targets?
- What if you wanted them so badly that you would never ever give up chasing those targets?
When you are truly 100% committed to attaining your targets/goals, you move from doubt to knowing for sure. If you want something really bad, then quitting is simply out of your mind.
You either discover a way or make your own path to reach there. You are ready to pay the price, whatever it takes to reach your destination.
Some hugely inspiring books that have motivated me on my path –
The author Kish Kumar is a trainer and Coach at Golden Chess Centre. He can be contacted via his Facebook page.
Note: The links in this page are affiliate links.
How best to prepare for chess tournaments?
I would like to share some thoughts on this aspect of Chess. How best to prepare for chess tournaments. I am sharing these techniques as I have seen the impact of these points personally.
If there is any suggestion or clarification in this regard, do let me know by email or Facebook or Google+.
The players I am referring to are in the Beginner to intermediate strength and for higher rated players the mileage may vary depending on a myriad of other factors in play.
Success does not come randomly in a day. It is merely a by-product of doing things correctly consistently.
Let us get on with the points in contention – how best to prepare for a chess tournament:
- Eating Right, Sleeping right and Living Right: I would say in general keep a positive state of mind and nurture emotions and feelings of hopefulness, joy, and plenty of laughter (I recall watching loads of comedy films).
- Creative Problem Solving: I would encourage you to keep your mind sharp and flexible by learning other games and puzzles outside of chess such as GO, Scrabble, Sudoku, Shogi, etc. Learning new skills and thinking about the connections to chess is a creative way to give your mind a break from chess while still staying, “in the zone”.
- The Power of Visualization and Positive Thinking: Let us face it. We all have hopes and fears of the upcoming event; why not build yourself up to being a confident player who believes he is going to be fighting for the first prize in the final round and coming out on top. Try it while you are in the act of studying chess or playing casual games or training games; see yourself playing these same winning moves at the tournament. Try to imagine yourself putting all that work into action; playing strong chess and avoiding bad habits (playing too fast, getting up from the board, not getting tired, blunders…).Confidence and “game” are huge parts of the chess battle. In many games, I have observed it comes down to who has more confidence, will and energy than anything else.
My advice is: do not be afraid to dream and believe you are going to have a great result. Of course, this has to be backed by hard work before the event and during the games.
- Sharpening Up: Calculation (and evaluation) and Tactical Strength are the base level ingredients of being on form and achieving desired results. We all know what happens if we are not able to spot double attacks, combinations or simply dropping pawns and pieces. It is a well-known truth that the study of King and Pawn endgames is a practice in pure calculation, often times long variations, with a definite conclusion. Along with the study of K & P endings try the deliberate practice of solving tactical studies. The trick here is to choose a book (or software) that has just the right mix of problems that you can feel challenged yet still be able to solve many positions in a sitting. For e.g.: The excellent book ‘1,000 Checkmate Combinations‘ by Victor Khenkin or 600+ Tactics by V. Subramanian or Chess School 2 by Sergei Ivaschenko.
- Going All Out: This idea ties into my thoughts on creative visualization, but I want to stress the importance of being psyched up to play great, uncompromising chess during the event. Be creative and cultivate your inner fire; become inspired at the actual tournament and believe that you have what it takes to take it all.
- Relaxation with Family and Friends: Do not forget about making the most of the time you spend with your family, friends and loved ones. This is your support team and you need feel emotionally strong and loved in order to achieve maximal results.
- Regular Exercise: Benefits of Exercise are well known and documented. However from a chess point of view I would suggest it primarily for one reason – the oxygen intake helps de-clutter your mind. If you would like more info I suggest this book as a must read: Exercise Every Day: 32 Tactics for Building the Exercise Habit by S.J Scott. It contains some of the best tips and would not pinch the pocket.
I do hope to see you playing the best chess of your life and more importantly – enjoy the process!!!
The author Kish Kumar is a professional Chess trainer at Madipakkam, Nanganallur, Chennai. When free he writes articles related to Chess training. Connect with him at Facebook.
10 Things You Never Knew About Viswanathan Anand. He is one of India’s most successful, yet low-profile sports personalities. Having won several championships and distinctions in a career that has spanned over three decades, Viswanathan Anand has, time and again, made the country proud. This 42-year-old Grandmaster’s latest conquest was winning the World Chess Championship for the fifth time.
In light of his latest achievement, here’s a look at some interesting and little known facts about arguably one of the greatest chess players of all time:
10 Things You Never Knew About Viswanathan Anand
Fact One: While in many people’s eyes he might be the greatest chess player in the world, Viswanathan Anand rates the late Bobby Fischer as the best of all time. Ironically, Anand doesn’t feature in his own list of the top 10 chess players of all time!
Fact Two: As neutral observers stay divided over who the current greatest chess player is–Anand or Gary Kasparov–Russian Grandmaster, Vladimir Kramnik favors the Indian. Kramnik stated in a 2011 interview, “I always considered him to be a colossal talent, one of the greatest in the whole history of chess.” He also added, “I think that in terms of play, Anand is in no way weaker than Kasparov.” In fact, he even went so far as to say, “In the last 5-6 years he’s made a qualitative leap that’s made it possible to consider him one of the great chess players.”
In other words, who cares what the majority opinion is, when Anand is revered by his successful peers and rated as one of the best of all time!
Fact Three: Viswanathan Anand, who hails from a Tamil family, has two siblings–an elder brother and an elder sister. He is the baby of the family seeing as how his brother is 13 and his sister is 11 years older than him!
Fact Four: In 1984, at the age of 15, Anand became the youngest Indian to win the title of International Master (IM). In chess, IM is the level players normally attain before they become Grandmasters.
Fact Five: Anand won his first National Chess Championship in 1986. He has won this title thrice in his career–from 1986 to 1988.
Fact Six: The title of Grandmaster was awarded to ‘Vishy’ in 1988, after he won the Shakti Finance International chess tournament in Coimbatore. As a result, he became India’s first ever Grandmaster. Since then, there have been several Indian chess players who have gone on to become grand masters–including female players.
Fact Seven: Anand was awarded the prestigious Padma Shri in 1988 when he was just 18. Former Indian cricket captain, Mohammed Azharuddin was the only other sports person to have been given this honor that year.
Fact Eight: In the 2000 FIDE World Chess Championship in Tehran, Anand beat Latvian Grandmaster, Alexei Shirov to claim his first such title.
Fact Nine: Anand has won the reunified World Chess Championship–which has been taking place since 2006–four times. He has triumped in this championship in 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2012.
Fact Ten: Although Anand has been making waves since the mid-1980, he finally earned the No.1 ranking in the FIDE Elo rating in April 2007. The Elo rating systerm is a complicated formula used to calculate relative skill levels of players in cerebral games like chess.
Anand’s highest Elo rating was 2817–the fourth-highest of all time! Among the currently active players, only five, including Anand, have recorded an Elo rating of 2800 and above.
Chess is a very interesting game in that it is fully concrete. Therefore, chess has given a number of interesting experiences to the world. Here are Some really interesting facts about Chess
Some really interesting facts about Chess (that even I did not know!)
1. Did you know the number of possible ways of playing the first four moves for both sides in a game of chess is 319,999,664,000?
2. The longest game of chess that is theoretically possible is 5,989 moves.
3. The first chessboard with alternating light and dark squares (as it appears today) was made in Europe in 1090 AD.
4. According to the America’s Foundation for Chess, there are 169,518,829,100,545,000,000,000,000,000 (approximately 1.71×1029) ways to play the first 10 moves of a game of chess. Even a computer would find that difficult to digest.
5. The word “checkmate” in chess originally comes from the Persian word “Shah Mat,” which is often translated to “the king is dead”, although more accurate may be “the king is trapped” or ” the king is without escape” (Treadwell).
6. The longest chess game ever played was I.Nikolic – Arsovic, Belgrade 1989, which ended in – hold your breath – 269 moves. The game ended in a draw!
7. There are 400 different possible positions after one move each. There are 72,084 different possible positions after two moves each. There are over 9 million different possible positions after three moves each. There are over 318 billion different possible positions after four moves each. The number of distinct 40-move games in chess is far greater than the number of electrons in the observable universe. The number of electrons is approximately 1079, while the number of unique chess games is 10120.
8. The second book ever printed in the English language was about chess! Now that is really strange.
Winning Chess: How To See Three Moves Ahead (Bestseller at Amazon)
by Irving Chernev
9. The new pawn move, where pawns were allowed to advance two squares on its first move instead of one, was first introduced in Spain in 1280.
10. The first chess game played between space and earth was on June 9, 1970 by the Soyez-9 crew. The game ended in a draw.
11. An old puzzle: If you put one grain of wheat on the first square of the chessboard, two on the second, four on the third, eight on the fourth, and so on, how many grains of wheat do you need to put on the 64th square? The answer is 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 (approximately 9.22×1018) grains of wheat. That’s a lot of nutrition.
12. The folding chessboard was invented by a priest who was forbidden to play chess. The priest found a way around it by making a folding chessboard. When folded together and put on a bookshelf, it simply looks like two books.
13. Kirk and Spock have played chess three times on the show Star Trek. Kirk won all three games.
14. A computer called Deep Thought became the first computer to beat an international grandmaster in November 1988, Long Beach, California.
15. Garry Kasparov, at 22, became the youngest ever world champion. Ruslan Ponomariov was younger but he was not the undisputed world champion; Maia Chiburdanidze was even younger when she won the women’s title.
16. Some people are so good at chess, they can play against more than one opponent at a given time. In 1922, World Champion José Raúl Capablanca played 103 opponents simultaneously and won 102 of the games (with 1 draw). This type of chess prowess display is called as a ‘SIMUL’.
How to Beat Your Dad at Chess – (No:1 Bestseller at Amazon)