Nutrition and Chess

The Right Way To Feed Your Focus
What to eat to boost your critical thinking for your next chess game.
By: Brigitte Zeitlin, MPH, RD, CDN
We all know that the brain is kind of a big deal, right?!  It is the control center of your entire body.  It tells us how to move, when to eat, what to feel, and how to think.  Food plays a huge role in keeping our brains healthy and allowing it to function at it’s absolute best.  Food can also improve specific cognitive skills like our abilities to concentrate, focus, remember, and thick quickly. 
And in a mental game like chess where mental cognition is King (get it, King!) the foods you eat can give you the greatest upper hand in outsmarting your opponent.
Here are 5 foods that will boost your brainpower and feed your focus!  Incorporate them into your daily lifestyle to get the maximum brain benefits and especially on tournament day. 
Berries: raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries are all loaded in antioxidants called flavonoids. Studies have shown that these flavonoids have help to improve memory and alertness.  Aim to have ½ cup of berries every morning, either mixed into some plain Greek yogurt, oatmeal, or smoothies, or have them on the side of your eggs or avocado toast. 
Dark Leafy Greens: think spinach, kale, broccoli, collard greens, and swiss chard.  This green crew is high in vitamin K, lutein, folate, and beta-carotene, all nutrients that improve mental cognition, improve focus, and prevent cognitive decline.   Make a salad for lunch using spinach and kale as the base, and add any combination of these green to a quick dinnertime stir-fry, or roast some broccoli to use as a side dish for your chicken, fish, or steak. 
Pumpkin Seeds: these little guys pack a serious brain-power punch thanks to the amount of zinc that they offer.  Zinc plays an important role in keeping our cognition on point and boosting memory.
Fatty fish: think salmon, tuna, trout, herring, and sardines. Fatty fish is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids which play a crucial role in brain health, helping to boost focus, alertness, and concentration.  Aim to have fish as 3 times a week.  For lunch, add tuna to a salad or make an open-faced tuna sandwich and for dinner try some broiled and grilled salmon or trout with sautéed or roasted veggies
Walnuts: all nuts are a great source of those omega-3 fatty acids we just talked about, but walnuts in particular have been linked to improving cognitive test scores in a study out of UCLA.   These nutty guys get their added brainpower thanks to specific omega-3 fatty acid known as ALA (alpha-linolenic acid).  Not only does ALA improve cognition and alertness, but is also lowers blood pressure, which helps you to stay cool, calm, and collected while contemplating your next move. 
Extra Pro-tip: make sure you stay well hydrated.   Hydration is key in keeping energy levels up and preventing a sluggish mind and body.  Bring a water bottle and keep filling it up.  If plain H20 isn’t for you, then drink unsweetened tea, either hot or iced. 
And for when you are heading to a tournament, here my top 5 brain-boosting snacks on-the-go: 
  • A banana with walnuts: pack 2 tablespoons of walnuts in a ziplock baggie and toss them into your bag with a banana the combination of omega-3’s from the walnuts. Also this combo of fiber and protein will help to keep you full and satiated. 
  • 1 cup of blueberries with a plain Greek yogurt.  This combo will boost your brainpower and fill you up so that a grumbling stomach doesn’t distract you from beating your opponent. 
  • Roasted pumpkin seeds. You can roast your own or check out these delicious lemon-teriyaki pumpkin seeds that come in a single-serving snack size.  These crunchy guys will give you that needed zinc while also adding some satiating protein to you between turns. 
  • Tuna salad with whole grain crackers.  The night before a tournament, take a 6-ounce can of tuna and mix is up with a little bit of mustard or a touch of mayo, add in some chopped carrots and/or celery and pack it in a container for game day.  Then in a Ziploc bag add in 5-10 whole grain crackers.  This combo is sure to help you win by both boosting your ability to concentrate on the and preventing any hunger vibes from creeping in. 
  • A part-skim cheese stick and 1 cup of sliced strawberries.  This sweet and savory combo will give your energy and focus a boost.  The berries will also help to add in some extra hydration to prevent any sluggishness. 
Keep in touch with Brigitte on Instagram and Facebook or to get healthy recipes and wellness-focused blog posts by visiting BZ Nutrition.   And if you would like to work one-on-one with Brigitte to get your own personalized nutrition plan email Brigitte@bznutritionny.com.

Seeing a Premier Chess Class for the First Time… (at 10 a.m)

My fellow Premier Chess Intern Janell Warner and I was lucky enough to come view one of Premier Chess’s elective classes at Grace Church Middle School in Downtown in Manhattan this morning. This program is less intensive compared to other programs offered by Premier Chess such as curriculum courses and after school programs. Regardless, the kids are still very skilled for there age at chess and a select few will be participating in tournament this upcoming Sunday the 2nd.

The variety of skill sets among the kids in all these programs do vary, but the amount of fun they have and the knowledge they receive is only exponential, and does allow for the perfect balance between the two.

Chess in general already provides so many benefits to young minds, paired with the positive reinforcement and good rapport between the students and the instructors. Seeing some of the children pretend to be the instructors, even jokingly calling themselves the CEO of the company truly portrayed the connections the teachers make with the students, especially when they refer to them as ambassadors.

What Premier Chess is offering is much more than just a good skillset and knowledge of chess, they are offering a fun, positive, and educational service to children.

image1.jpeg
image3.jpeg
image2.jpeg

Chess Trivia Post 1: What Came First- Chess or Checkers?

 Jonathan Rothschild, Mayor of Tucson told the students at our Sonoran Science Academy camp last year “You play checkers; I’ll play chess.”

Chess, as I’m sure you all know, is a two player board game a played on a 64 square board, 8 squares on each side, and each players starts with 16 pieces. Checkers is also  a two players board game played on a 64 square board, 8 square on each side, but this time each players begins with 12 pieces, or checkers.

The objective in both of these games are different- in checkers, you need to capture all your opponents pieces until you leave them with no available moves. To the contrary, in chess, capturing pieces you a competitive advantage but you ultimately need to checkmate your opponent’s king to win. Checkmate means the king is in danger and there are no legal moves.

 The other main difference between these two games is that in chess, each piece has it’s own unique move or function, leaving a larger margin for error than checkers, in which the pieces have all the same function unless you are able to move one of your checkers all the way across the board, turning it into a “King”, allowing it to move backwards. Similarly though, in chess, when a pawn reaches the other side of the board, it can promote to a Queen, Bishop, Rook or Knight. 99% of time players will promote to a queen but there a few times when a player will underpromote.

So to answer the question above, what came first, chess or checkers, the answer isn’t chess. The earliest version of chess, called Chaturanga, originated from Northern India around the start of the 6th century. Even though it was not until the 15th century that the game of chess evolved to what it is today. Checkers, however, is much older than chess. Historians believe that the earliest form of checkers was discovered in Iraq and archeologists have used Carbon dating to trace their findings back to 3000 B.C , over 5000+ years ago, whereas was only discovered a 1500 years ago.

So there you have it, the answer to the question we’ve all been waiting for. Tune in soon for more chess-related trivia.

Daniel Mascola
Operations Intern
daniel@premierchess.com
premierchess.com

Premier Chess Partners with Make a Difference Now and Metro World Child!

The1st Annual Grace Church and Brooklyn Friends Grand Prix Tournament #6 will be taking place on June 2nd. I know it’s in the following month but these short summer days are flying by, you are gonna one mark this one down on your calendar. Special thanks to the Make A Difference foundation who has helped to plan and organize this event, and through a silent auction, will teach chess to underprivileged youth in Africa. Email evan@premierchess.com if you can donate a silent auction item.

For all of you interested in helping youth have you ever heard of Metro World Child? A non-profit organization devoted to helping at-risk youth worldwide, and is based here in Brooklyn, New York! Believe it or not, Metro World Child has been around for nearly half a century!  On June 9th, Premier Chess will be holding a fundraiser Grand Prix Chess Tournament hosted by the organization Metro World Child. To become a part of this event you can register Register here. If you have any questions, please contact Premier Chess CEO Evan Rabin at evan@premierchess.com or Glisson  Niekerk at gniekerk@metroworldchild.org. Hope to see you all there and looking forward to paving a brighter future.

Daniel Mascola
Premier Chess Operations Intern