Playing conditions are important in baseball, football and basketball.
In chess, how can they matter? It would seem that a decent board and pieces are all you need.
Yet concentration can be affected if the chair is uncomfortable, the pieces are poorly designed, the lighting is inadequate or the environment is noisy.
When he played IBM’s Deep Blue in 1996, Garry Kasparov made the following pre-match demands, according to computer expert Monty Newborn:
“The board must be perfectly flat and produce no glare. Each square must measure 2.25 inches on a side and be colored brown and cream. The pieces must be wooden, seamless, glareless, well-weighted and also colored brown and cream. The king must be 3.75 inches tall. His chair must be just right — not too hard and not too soft — with comfortable arms.”
At the scene, Kasparov’s mother and manager, Klara Kasparova, provided lighting adjustments, air- conditioner noise control and restroom security.
The meticulous attention to conditions might have had little influence on the outcome: Kasparov won 4-2.
“When you are playing well, nothing disturbs you,” world champion Viswanathan Anand noted.