Are Chess Players Athletes?

Many people wonder if playing chess is identical to an athletic sport where a runner has to cover a target distance in less possible time. The question might seem stupid to some, but it makes sense to get confused. This question might have arisen since chess players need to stay in a great physical state as the game can take several hours to complete. It is especially essential for the professional players or those competing at the national or international level. Similarly, athletes have to take care of their physical and mental health.

Can you call chess players athletes? Chess players are not athletes. An athlete is someone who participates in games that require intense physical exertion and takes a highly-nutritious diet, such as marathon runners. Though chess can be tiring, it does not involve major physical activity or fitness concerns.

Distinguishing Factors Between Athletes And Chess Players:-


As playing a board game like chess does not involve extraordinary muscle movement of the whole body, chess players do not have to train much aggressively compared to athletes. Giving strong competition to another player depends on keeping your entire attention on the game and using your mental powers at the maximum. On the other hand, being a part of sports such as half-marathons, marathons, and sprints means that one has to rely on muscle coordination and taking precise movements highly. Thus, for training, athletes have to consider several aspects such as workouts and diet.

Chances Of injuries:

There is a rare possibility that a chess player will get injured or hurt his body part due to playing this game. Though one might feel mental exertion or tiredness, it is different from getting bruised and similar incidents.

However, there is a high chance that athletes hurt their arms, suffer from ligaments and tendons tearing, and bruise their legs while running or doing heavy activity. One can recover from mental drains in a few hours, but it takes a sufficient period to recover from the injuries.

Physical Presence Outdoors:

When a sports event is held, all the athletes have to attend that event physically to perform. Otherwise, they will not be included in a tournament. On the other hand, chess is a game that people can enjoy indoors and compete with other players online. Game developers have created a variety of chess platforms to allow communities to play this game without any restrictions.

Creating the online mode was especially helpful when the world was hit by a viral outbreak that created an emergency situation for more than a year. However, the same incident restricted the authorities and sports management to organize events for athletes.

Related Factors Between Athletes And Chess Players:-

Focused Goals:

One of the major similarities or traits shared by chess players and athletes is that both sportsmen have a common objective for which they compete. Moreover, they play with determination and their willingness and dedication are manifested in their great performances.

They learn from their mistakes and strive to improve themselves by noticing their weak areas. Those with outstanding performances win either cash prizes or trophies and medals which motivates them more to participate and compete in the coming events.

Requirement Of Skills:

As athletic sports demand the members to train and gain skills for fighting for the main positions, the same is the case with moving chess pieces on a wooden or glass board. Athletes work on their bodies and nutrition for weeks, maintain their weight and devote themselves to sports they love.

Similarly, chess players spend considerable segments of their lives learning techniques, participating in solving puzzles, and ways to start the game to polish their skills. Hence, both athletic games and chess are demanding in their own aspects.

Sportsmen Spirit:

Both athletes and chess players have to practice sportsmanship before starting the game and during the play. When it comes to chess, players not only shake hands with their opponents at the start and end of the game but also use positive words to wish them good luck. After the match ends, participants thank each other as well. It is considered a great gesture and makes the tense environment somewhat friendly.

Athletes also share this trait. For instance, before a football match begins, the competing teams shake hands to honour each other and show respect. They repeat this appreciable gesture at the end of the event.

Investigation For Drugs:

Athletes and chess, especially when played on a large scale, involve doping controls. Before any athlete enters a competition, the staff tests that person for the potential intake of substances that might provide help, such as physical sharpness or doses of energy. Similarly, chess players also go through this thorough checking and monitoring to ensure fair scoring in the match.

How do Chess Grandmasters keep in shape?

Most of the world’s best chess players recognize the need to be in excellent physical shape—Bobby Fischer, the current world champion Magnus Carlsen, and even the former world champion Vishwanathan Anand.

The top chess grandmasters recognize the need to keep their bodies in the best of their condition to perform at the highest level. World champions Magnus Carlsen and Bobby Fischer are both well-known players for their demanding exercise regimens, which allow them to compete for the necessary long hours without a lapse in concentration.

Bobby Fischer

Fischer was surprisingly quite broad-shouldered, played tennis, and swam. During an interview with Dick Cavett in 1971, Fischer explained the need for elite chess performers must have good blood circulation to the head.

His demanding exercise regimen allows him to compete for long hours without being drained or lapsing concentration. Bobby Fischer had broad shoulders and loved swimming and playing tennis. He emphasized the need to have excellent blood circulation flowing to the head during an interview in 1971.

Magnus Carlsen

Carlsen always does his opening preparation on the treadmill, is a keen and talented football player, and brings his chef to chess tournaments to maintain his strict diet.

Unlike Bobby Fischer, Magnus Carlsen also loves playing football, and he is pretty talented in the sport. In addition, he brings his chef to tournaments to maintain his strict diet.

Vishwanathan Anand

Former World champion Anand is a big lover of swimming, just like Fischer. So, before the world championship match in 2013, Anand decided to shed a few pounds because he badly wanted to be in good shape before his encounter with Magnus Carlsen, 20 years younger than him.

Final Thoughts:-

Though both the athletes and chess players share some common characteristics, the athletes take part in sports involving extreme physical activity and can get injured. This is the main distinction that separates these two groups. Therefore, one should not use the term athlete for a chess player.

Frequently Asked Questions About Chess Players And Athletes:-

Do chess players burn calories?

Chess players burn thousands of calories, especially when the match continues for several hours. It also results in increased pulse rate and heart rate.

Is low blood pressure normal in athletes?

Studies have shown that most athletes have low blood pressure to a healthy lifestyle. So, it is common among them.

Harikrishnan A

I am an International Fide Rated player with 10+ years of experience. Played many International Chess Tournaments and Commonwealth games.

Recent Posts