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JGB
02-09-2004, 07:12 PM
How many of the chess community believe in taking enhancements of some kind to better ones chess playing ability (normally concentration).

Of course the levels of substance used varies in degree from taking a Snickers Bar or a can of Pepsi all the way up to presciption drugs to help in the aid of concentraion.

With the new testing for banned substances (drugs) in big chess tournaments players need to be on the lookout for what perscription medicine has been taken. I once believed that drugs and chess had no connection until I witnessed a players transformation in the chess tournament at Bad Zwesten. A man of perhaps 40 years (Elo around 2300) was very nervous as he played against a GM (could not concentrate for more than a few minutes), he had attained an almost losing position and left for the toilet. When he returned to the board he seemed a changed man he spent the next 2 hours in a deep concentration only moving to push his pieces. He beat the GM in a tight endgame, (which the GM blundered) stood up from the board signed the page and left the hall quickly. After the game the GM (a friend and Id rather not say his name in the open) looked at me and just said 'he take something in this game, this make him win' (in his broken English). At first I wondered what he was talking about; Pocket Fritz or something, then I realised he meant a drug of some kind.
I do not know if this man did or did not take something to enhance his concentration, but I got to thinking, if there are drugs available that could produce the same affects in a players as the transformation I had seen in this man then drugs and chess are surely a topic.

Anyway, I know that it is becoming a bigger topic, now in the larger tournaments beer is not to be consumed in the playing hall as it is a drug, and coffee is being banned (see the refusal of a few German GM'S to play in the Chess Olympics this years on hearing that coffee is being banned - im serious), which I find too extreme.

I wanted to know how you all felt about these new rules, and what kinds of stimulants you guys take if any. Personally I like to drink litres of water in the 24 hours running up to a game because I always feel dehydrated over the board (the brain uses heaps of fluid in concentration) I eat a banana just before, and bonbons (my glucose lollies, winegums etc) during the game.

Alan Shore
02-09-2004, 07:55 PM
Total crap. If a few beers makes me a better player then that's just too bad for my opponent. It doesn't make me calculate better, it simply gives me a more free-flowing style, releasing inhibitions about attacking. It's not like I'm taking psychotropic memory-enhancing drugs.. which if they ever are invented might be banned but until then, there's no need. Caffeine, Alcohol and Brahmi should all be allowed.

Ian Rout
03-09-2004, 09:53 AM
I'd largely go along with Bruce's logic, so long as it isn't taken to extremes ("if a few steroids makes me a better cyclist then that's just too bad for my opponent"). I think that we need to start off identifying what drugs, if any, do enhance performance, and devise a strategy to deal with that. If there aren't any drugs deemed to be worth worrying about then I don't see the point in devoting scarce resources to drug testing.

Currently drug testing in chess is directed at drugs which have not been demonstrated to enhance performance, and almost certainly don't. The argument is that this will assist in having chess recognised as a sport; in fact it makes chess less of a sport - a fundamental principle of sport is that you don't award the prize, trophy, qualifying place or whatever to the player with the second-best score, which is what happens if you disqualify the winner for sucking cough lozenges.

There could be a grey area where something like caffeine might have some sort of stimulatory effect in large quantities. On the one hand banning something which at low levels is part of a normal diet or lifestyle for many people is going to create problems, including the conviction of the innocent, but a criterion based on "normal diet" could create loopholes.

However until we see some evidence that caffeine does help chess I wouldn't be worrying about it. Personally I'm happy for my opponents to drink as much coffee or Coca-Cola as they like, either before or during a game.

PHAT
03-09-2004, 03:24 PM
A problem with not accepting being fully drug controlled is, that if none of the sport performance enhansing drugs enhance chess performance, chess cannot be considered a sport. Therefore, I say let them test us like any other sport, else look like a non-sport.

JGB
03-09-2004, 06:10 PM
I think that we need to start off identifying what drugs, if any, do enhance performance, and devise a strategy to deal with that. If there aren't any drugs deemed to be worth worrying about then I don't see the point in devoting scarce resources to drug testing.
.

There are already proven drugs which can definetly benefit chess players on the market. These drugs are not new and were first developed to help children with learning difficulties overcome concentration problems in schools. It is not really about memory retention in itself, but naturally super concentration will help in solving logical problems, (im talking about the kind of thinking that Kotov talks about in Think Like a Grandmaster). This can now illegally be achieved for many people who never would have a chance before.

Can't you imagine the benefits of being in full concentration, a few moves deep into a combination, its all hard work and your opponent sneezes (or worse a tall busty blonde walks past in a bikini) and your concentartion is lost for moment, where were you? Lets start over again... the slight benefits could be saved time on the clock not needing to analyse position twice or three times, this help in time trouble or in the endgame could even be more effective?

Garvinator
03-09-2004, 07:22 PM
(or worse a tall busty blonde walks past in a bikini)
sometimes there is a time to be realistic about what can occur, when is this situation likely to occur in australian chess ;) :lol:

Alan Shore
03-09-2004, 07:26 PM
sometimes there is a time to be realistic about what can occur, when is this situation likely to occur in australian chess ;) :lol:

Hahahaha, nice one. :D

(I still refuse to use that laughing emoticon, it looks too stupid).

Still, you never know ;)

Kevin Bonham
06-09-2004, 05:48 AM
A problem with not accepting being fully drug controlled is, that if none of the sport performance enhansing drugs enhance chess performance, chess cannot be considered a sport. Therefore, I say let them test us like any other sport, else look like a non-sport.

I don't think that drug testing is considered all that critical by sporting bodies in deciding whether chess is a sport or not. I'd be happy with drug testing as part of any package deal that yields sport status at a certain level though.

Does anyone know if there are differences in which drugs are banned for different sports? I follow motorsport and I cannot remember a driver ever being banned for drugs. In F1, drug-testing is so little of an issue that I don't know if it even occurs.

I vary my diet during weekenders and believe that this improves my performance. I can't see how this is different from drinking coffee, except that the benefits of coffee are a double-edged sword.


sometimes there is a time to be realistic about what can occur, when is this situation likely to occur in australian chess

Open-air events held during summer festivals perhaps. I know that in open-air casual games on the big boards here name supressed would effectively lose the 1 off the front of his 1700 rating for performance purposes whenever he had his eyes on something other than the board.

JGB
08-09-2004, 05:40 PM
I think it interesting that a majority of people here believe in absolute no substance control at all in chess. I thought that there needed to be some kind of control at the very high levels of the game where big championships are decided and big prizes are won. With new drugs coming out onto the market I am for limitaions on what players should be taking. Who knows what new drugs could be developed in the future. Of course at most of our playing strength, substance control is almost meaningless in tournaments but I was thinking more about at higher levels?

On the side of drug tests being used as a way of making chess more sportly, I really dont care.

...Chess is not a sport and will never be labelled as one, and I love it just like that (for me it is more than a sport).
Sometimes I think the people who want Chess to be called a sport are those who don't partake in any form of physical activity and wish they could say 'Yep I play sport everyday'.... i play chess. :(

JGB
22-12-2004, 02:02 AM
Chessbase has published a portion of an LA Time report on the topic. I have copied a part for readers who cant be bothered 'jumping' to chessbase.


Participating in a research project, Stenger downed a green gelatin cap containing a drug called modafinil. Within an hour, his attention sharpened. So did his memory. He aced a series of mental-agility tests. If his brainpower would normally rate a 10, the drug raised it to 15, he said.

...

"It's not a question of 'if' anymore. It's just a matter of time," said geneticist Tim Tully, a researcher at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island, N.Y., and developer of a compound called HT-0712, which has shown promise as a memory enhancer. The drug soon will be tested in human subjects.

http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=2090

Denis_Jessop
22-12-2004, 10:12 PM
Chessbase has published a portion of an LA Time report on the topic. I have copied a part for readers who cant be bothered 'jumping' to chessbase.


Participating in a research project, Stenger downed a green gelatin cap containing a drug called modafinil. Within an hour, his attention sharpened. So did his memory. He aced a series of mental-agility tests. If his brainpower would normally rate a 10, the drug raised it to 15, he said.

...

"It's not a question of 'if' anymore. It's just a matter of time," said geneticist Tim Tully, a researcher at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island, N.Y., and developer of a compound called HT-0712, which has shown promise as a memory enhancer. The drug soon will be tested in human subjects.

http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=2090

Something that seems to been overlooked in this debate so far is the possible beneficial affects of drugs that reduce anxiety - and there are plenty of those around. I can speak from personal experience, though going back 30 years, when I undertook a course of self hypnosis relaxation (not in this case involving any drugs) for a certain purpose. The course did not achieve that purpose but that year my ACF rating increased by 100 points - more than it has ever done before then or since (except for Bill's bonus scheme).

Denis Jessop

Denis_Jessop
24-12-2007, 04:26 PM
It has for a long time been asserted that there are no performance-enhancing drugs that could be used by chess players. A recent article in the Guardian newspaper suggests that this may now not be the case - see http://www.guardian.co.uk/drugs/Story/0,,2207210,00.html

Briefly, it is reported that students are using Ritalin and Modafinil to improve their mental performance for study and exams and that there is evidence that it works. This includes a study done on male undergraduates at Cambridge University in 2003.

Has anyone else seen similar reports or heard of chess players using these drugs?

DJ

ElevatorEscapee
27-12-2007, 05:31 PM
I have played some juniors who I suspect might have been using the former! :P

Axiom
27-12-2007, 05:37 PM
I have played players on caffeine,nicotine,alcohol and cocoa ! ;)

Aaron Guthrie
27-12-2007, 06:01 PM
This bit looked interesting,

Sahakian and a team of researchers at Cambridge tested modafinil on healthy male undergraduates in 2003. Those who took a single 200mg dose were found to use information more efficiently within two hours of taking it.so onto the Journal abstract,
...We were therefore interested in assessing whether modafinil, with its unique pharmacological mode of action, might offer similar potential as a cognitive enhancer, without the side effects commonly experienced with amphetamine-like drugs.
...
Results. Modafinil significantly enhanced performance on tests of digit span, visual pattern recognition memory, spatial planning and stop-signal reaction time. These performance improvements were complemented by a slowing in latency on three tests: delayed matching to sample, a decision-making task and the spatial planning task.which suggests that this might not be a chess-boosting drug.

edit-oh, it is just saying that you will plan slower, but still better.

Denis_Jessop
29-12-2007, 10:32 AM
This bit looked interesting,
so onto the Journal abstract,which suggests that this might not be a chess-boosting drug.

edit-oh, it is just saying that you will plan slower, but still better.


On the other hand the complete abstract gives a rather different view


Rationale. Modafinil, a novel wake-promoting agent, has been shown to have a similar clinical profile to that of conventional stimulants such as methylphenidate. We were therefore interested in assessing whether modafinil, with its unique pharmacological mode of action, might offer similar potential as a cognitive enhancer, without the side effects commonly experienced with amphetamine-like drugs.

Objectives. The main aim of this study was to evaluate the cognitive enhancing potential of this novel agent using a comprehensive battery of neuropsychological tests.

Methods. Sixty healthy young adult male volunteers received either a single oral dose of placebo, or 100 mg or 200 mg modafinil prior to performing a variety of tasks designed to test memory and attention. A randomised double-blind, between-subjects design was used.

Results. Modafinil significantly enhanced performance on tests of digit span, visual pattern recognition memory, spatial planning and stop-signal reaction time. These performance improvements were complemented by a slowing in latency on three tests: delayed matching to sample, a decision-making task and the spatial planning task. Subjects reported feeling more alert, attentive and energetic on drug. The effects were not clearly dose dependent, except for those seen with the stop-signal paradigm. In contrast to previous findings with methylphenidate, there were no significant effects of drug on spatial memory span, spatial working memory, rapid visual information processing or attentional set-shifting. Additionally, no effects on paired associates learning were identified.

Conclusions. These data indicate that modafinil selectively improves neuropsychological task performance. This improvement may be attributable to an enhanced ability to inhibit pre-potent responses. This effect appears to reduce impulsive responding, suggesting that modafinil may be of benefit in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

DJ

PS See also the following reference for the mention of some ethical questions arising fom the use of these drugs http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v450/n7173/full/4501157a.html

MichaelBaron
29-12-2007, 01:08 PM
Just curious if caffeine etc can actually improve OTB performance? I have great reservations about it.

It is true that some medications can make us more alert and/or exited. However, overexitement is not necessarily going to make one's chess stronger:hmm:

Aaron Guthrie
29-12-2007, 01:09 PM
On the other hand the complete abstract gives a rather different viewWhat is rather different in the complete abstract that my quoting of it changed?

Kevin Bonham
05-12-2008, 12:28 AM
*bump again*

One controversy on the tail-end of the 2008 Olympiad has been Ivanchuk refusing a drug-test after losing his last-round game. There is now the question of whether FIDE will apply sanctions, and if not, is there any chance of them revoking sanctions applied to others who did the same thing in the past. (Answer: probably not!)

Some are of the view that having such a high-profile player spit the dummy could well be the end of FIDE's flirtation with drug-test enforcement.

ER
05-12-2008, 03:18 AM
I think the matter can be of a very sensitive personal nature!

Say, GM x who suffers from a y illness is called to be tested for using a performance enhancing substance.

Results find that GM x has not used any performance enhancing substances but the medication he receives for treatment of y ilness produces suspicious symptoms.

From the day the results will be known onwards, GM x will be known and referred to apart from his playing strength for additional reasons such as the y illness he suffers from.

CAGLES

Desmond
05-12-2008, 08:55 AM
I voted for no control. Without caffeine I think I would shrivel into a little ball under the table. If a drug is legal, I do not see a problem. If it is not legal, this is a matter for the police, not chess officials.

MichaelBaron
05-12-2008, 10:25 AM
Nobody appears to be able to provide evidence that a particular substance can improve chess performance. Some time ago i watched an IM (lets not name him) turning up at a chess event being slightly drunk...however, in the end - he gained a draw only against a significantly lower rated opponent.

I doubt coffee can also make us play better. :hmm:

TheJoker
05-12-2008, 01:16 PM
Caffeine is not a prohibited substance under WADA drug testing rules.

Denis_Jessop
05-12-2008, 02:25 PM
The reason for the FIDE policy is that FIDE is linked with the IOC and so must have some anti-doping policy.

On the question whether there are any performance enhancing drugs available for chess players, I was interested to see that the new list to come into force on 1 January 2009 lists beta blockers as prohibited In Performance only for Bridge. If beta blockers can affect performance by bridge players it is hard to see how chess players are not similarly affected - perhaps more so - and perhaps we may be lucky to have escaped.

DJ

Kevin Bonham
05-12-2008, 08:20 PM
I doubt coffee can also make us play better. :hmm:

I find that a very small amount of coffee, strategically timed, can sometimes help (especially if feeling sleepy early in a game) but that a large quantity of caffeine is always harmful at any time limit, except if playing blitz after virtually no sleep!

The responses of others may vary. Generally caffeine can help one to be alert in the short term but it is extremely bad to have too much caffeine in your system if the position turns against you.

MichaelBaron
05-12-2008, 09:34 PM
I find that a very small amount of coffee, strategically timed, can sometimes help (especially if feeling sleepy early in a game) but that a large quantity of caffeine is always harmful at any time limit, except if playing blitz after virtually no sleep!

The responses of others may vary. Generally caffeine can help one to be alert in the short term but it is extremely bad to have too much caffeine in your system if the position turns against you.

Keven, strategically timed....emm not easy to administer the right amount at the right time. And what about say soccer players..surely coffee is allowed for them.

Capablanca-Fan
06-12-2008, 10:20 AM
The reason for the FIDE policy is that FIDE is linked with the IOC and so must have some anti-doping policy.
What has chess gained from its linkage? We are still not recognized as a sport by the Australian sportocracy, yet we have these new obligations.

Denis_Jessop
06-12-2008, 01:52 PM
What has chess gained from its linkage? We are still not recognized as a sport by the Australian sportocracy, yet we have these new obligations.

I think that so far chess has gained little from that linkage.

Moreover I am not sure how far the FIDE anti-doping policy affects non-FIDE events in Australia. I would think not at all as the Australian sporting authorities by and large don't recognise us as a sport. This means that government testing facilities are not available to us, among other things. Again, when I was ACTCA President and involved in funding applications to the ACT Government, it virtually closed its eyes to the anti-doping aspect. In the ACT the government "treats" chess as a sport which means it gives us funding and applies Sports Ministers decisions to us like the one forbidding funding for overseas trips to children of a less than a certain age.

DJ

Miranda
06-12-2008, 01:56 PM
Although I don't think chess is a sport, I would sign a petition for it to be one. It would make everything so much easier!

If we're not a sport, then we don't need to ban illegal substances. Simple as that.

Kevin Bonham
26-01-2017, 10:48 AM
It has for a long time been asserted that there are no performance-enhancing drugs that could be used by chess players. A recent article in the Guardian newspaper suggests that this may now not be the case - see http://www.guardian.co.uk/drugs/Story/0,,2207210,00.html

Briefly, it is reported that students are using Ritalin and Modafinil to improve their mental performance for study and exams and that there is evidence that it works. This includes a study done on male undergraduates at Cambridge University in 2003.

Has anyone else seen similar reports or heard of chess players using these drugs?

DJ

And ten years later we have a study directly related to chess - of a sort:

https://worldchess.com/2017/01/25/special-report-new-study-finds-performance-enhancing-drugs-for-chess/

The results, simulating performance in an allegro-style tournament with guillotine time controls (but against a computer not a human, so not a perfect match for OTB), are rather strange. The suggestion is that performance-enhancing drugs including caffeine made players more likely to lose on time at fast time controls but that apart from that they played somewhat better.

Will be interesting to follow any critical comment or replication attempts.

Thanks to lost for posting link to this in the shoutbox.

Kevin Bonham
26-01-2017, 11:32 AM
Comment I just made in the shoutbox:


I am suspicious of this study as evidence of enhancement because enhancement is only found after applying a post-hoc screen. The hypothesis that these drugs work provided the player does not lose on time should be retested.

When a scientist tests a hypothesis it is usually done by taking a null hypothesis (that substance X has no effect) and trying to falsify it in a specific way. In this case the null hypothesis (that performance overall wasn't enhanced) is not falsified. However the data show two apparent effects: that players taking the drugs are more likely to lose on time, and that when controlled for time taken those taking the drugs perform better. These weren't the original question so they need to be tested again.

Ian Rout
26-01-2017, 12:29 PM
And ten years later we have a study directly related to chess - of a sort:

https://worldchess.com/2017/01/25/special-report-new-study-finds-performance-enhancing-drugs-for-chess/

The results, simulating performance in an allegro-style tournament with guillotine time controls (but against a computer not a human, so not a perfect match for OTB), are rather strange.Certainly playing against a computer in what is effectively a practice game doesn't really replicate the stress of playing a tournament game. Though admittedly doing a real study without breaching FIDE's drug guidelines would be a problem.

The level of caffeine given isn't mentioned. As I recall in the Alex Watson case the problem wasn't caffeine but the high level of it which allegedly couldn't be achieved naturally.

The standard of the players is also not stated. Drugs may help beginners or club players clarify their thoughts or settle their nerves, but would they help a 2200+ who already may have whatever skills a drug might generate?

I think the study isn't without interest, if only that chess is used as a test medium. Though I would have also liked to see them try the effect of, e.g,, orange juice, garlic, peanuts, beer, cheese etc for comparison. If steroids work but give you no more help than a KFC zinger burger then it's of scientific interest but not really relevant to chess.

MichaelBaron
26-01-2017, 12:45 PM
Certainly playing against a computer in what is effectively a practice game doesn't really replicate the stress of playing a tournament game. Though admittedly doing a real study without breaching FIDE's drug guidelines would be a problem.

The level of caffeine given isn't mentioned. As I recall in the Alex Watson case the problem wasn't caffeine but the high level of it which allegedly couldn't be achieved naturally.

The standard of the players is also not stated. Drugs may help beginners or club players clarify their thoughts or settle their nerves, but would they help a 2200+ who already may have whatever skills a drug might generate?

I think the study isn't without interest, if only that chess is used as a test medium. Though I would have also liked to see them try the effect of, e.g,, orange juice, garlic, peanuts, beer, cheese etc for comparison. If steroids work but give you no more help than a KFC zinger burger then it's of scientific interest but not really relevant to chess.

With all due respect to fellow academics - as life-long coffee drinker all I can do when reading about their work...is smile :).

Ian Rout
26-01-2017, 01:16 PM
With all due respect to fellow academics - as life-long coffee drinker all I can do when reading about their work...is smile :).Academics often have that effect on people. In fairness it should be said that they apparently weren't trying to detect the effect of drugs on chess, it's just that aspect that's been highlighted here.