Millions of people all over the world have followed the 2016 World Chess Championship game between the reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen from Norway and a challenger Sergey Karjakin from Russia that took place in New York City, USA between 11th and 30th of November. After twelve games the result was 6-6, meaning that tie breaks were to decide the match. And finally, last night on his 26th birthday, Carlsen won the four-game rapid chess tie break with 3-1. This was somewhat surprising for many, who did not consider Carlsen to be at his best during the last 12 matches, and twho believed that Karjakin was a great opponent throughout the championship. When asked about the game by a Norwegian journalist, Karjakin said “It was perhaps a mistake that I prepared for both the black and the white portions. I looked at many varieties. But in rapid chess it’s better to be in good shape. And I was not in good shape”.
Chess is a game that involves many aspects of high level cognition such as memory, attention, focus and problem solving. It is a demanding game that favors the physically fit during long matches and tournaments. Thus, the simple question many of us raise today is if Magnus Carlsen`s physical fitness level better than Sergey Karjakin`s? Research does support the association between cardiorespiratory fitness and cognitive function in healthy pre-adolescent children and middle-aged and older people.
Exercise is important as medicine for treatment of heart and lifestyle related diseases and for increasing the likelihood and preservation of good heart and brain throughout life. This is true even for the winners of the World Chess Championship.
We congratulate Magnus Carlsen who yet again is the world’s best chess player, and probably the world’s fittest chess player as well.