Shelby Lyman on Chess: Mind-Body Connection
Sunday, February 8, 2015
(Published in print: Sunday, February 8, 2015)

Bobby Fischer is revered for his mastery of chess. According to Garry Kasparov, he was a decade or so ahead of his time.

But Fischer was body as well as mind. A teacher, at a summer camp the prodigy-to-be had attended as a child, told me that he had been the best underwater swimmer at a summer camp he attended.

It is hard to think of a sport that Fischer did not try at one time or another. Tennis, baseball, weight-lifting, pingpong and walking (at a world-class level, as a trainer described it) come to mind, in addition to swimming.

His physical efforts complemented his apparently natural high level of energy and stamina. At his best, a glow of health and physical strength seemed to encompass him — the aura probably intimidating many who would oppose him on the chessboard.

Part of his legacy was a conscious and public embrace of the mind-body connection. Until Fischer, that awareness was honored more in the breach than in the actual world of chess at large.

Magnus Carlsen, the current world champion, sounded very much like Fischer of half a century ago when he told Men’s Health magazine: “Training your brain is just as important as training your body. … It’s just like a muscle — if you’re not using it, you can lose it.”


Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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