Posture At The Board

During my many years of playing and coaching chess I’ve noticed a relationship between posture and thinking. For example if a player is hunched over the board and shaking, he’s probably involved mainly in the calculation of variations. Sometimes I’ve coached someone on the phone for quite a while but only when I saw how they sit at the board would I fully understand how they could improve their game.

This relationship between posture and thought has been highlighted more recently as I’ve become involved in Tai Chi. In this case proper intent is the key to a stronger posture, and it’s amazing the difference it makes.

This leads me to wonder if people can improve the quality of their thinking by improving their posture. I’ve tried googling for this and only come up with some studies showing a change in brain waves in people who meditate. Also intriguing is a recent finding that visiting a chiropracter can reduce blood pressure.

The problem of course is that there’s no incentive to test something that can’t be patented, and indeed might reduce the need for drugs. But I find the possibilities fascinating and think it’s worth experimenting with different ways of sitting.

One simple experiment is to try having your feet flat on the floor whilst playing chess. Also letting your hands rest gently on your knees whilst playing will avoid creating shoulder tension. I’ve seen several strong players from the former Soviet Union adopt such postures and it didn’t look as if it was accidental.