Polgar: Chess and football: Skills on board can help with skills on field

Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

Sunday, April 12, 2009
Story last updated at 4/12/2009 – 2:08 am

The question of the week is: Does chess help athletes in other sports?

The answer is actually yes. I know of many professional athletes in football, basketball, baseball and other sports who paid tribute to chess as a tool that helped them with court or field vision and definitely the decision-making process.

This is what Filip Bondy, a sports writer for the New York Daily news wrote about International Master Robert Hess back in September 2007:

“As Robert Hess peers from his linebacker position at a developing play, the football field suddenly resembles a more familiar chessboard that he can navigate with precise genius. The opposing quarterback is the king. The running back is the rook. There are attacking lines and patterns to be solved, perhaps a sacrificial block to execute in order to allow another tackler a clearer shot.

“This is one of those rare instances when Hess’ dual existence is totally in sync, the yin of the nerd in lockstep with the yang of the jock.”

Chess skills do help make you a better football player. NFL star running backs Shaun Alexander and Priest Holmes agree with this sentiment. But the key is you have to combine your passion with hard work.

I recently saw Gary Kasparov, a friend whom I have known for more than 20 years, he stressed a number of times during his lecture that there are no miracles in chess. The “real secret” is to work hard no matter what the training tools are. In his youth it was chess books and today it is computers. He said that the tools can be different but what is important remains the same.

“I don’t think champions are born, I think they are made, it’s all the result of very hard work,” said Gary. However, he further added that being able to work hard is unique talent. He also said that there is nothing more important than having a dedicated Mom, Dad or Coach to help support a young aspiring player.

Here is the full article.

Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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