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Friday, December 01, 2006

Chess on Steroids

According to this Reuters story (here entitled  "Chess players to face anti-doping measures"), the World Chess Federation will now require some chess players to undergo tests for steroids.   Apparently, this is window dressing that is part of a bid to make chess an Olympic sport.  I imagine that steroids might hurt chess performance more than help it. 

Steroid testing is not the kind of anti-doping measure I expected to read about in the article.  I thought the article would say that chess players will be tested for pharmaceuticals that might improve memory or concentration or the like.  Here's an article by Jonathan Moreno in Scientific American Mind about attempts to cognitively enhance soldiers.  For example, the military has taken an interest in drugs to enable soldiers to work days on end without sleep.  As Moreno notes:

The military wants to juice up personnel's brains because the human being is the weakest instrument of warfare. Although for centuries astonishing and terrifying advances have been made in the technology of conflict, soldiers are basically the same. They must eat, sleep, discern friend from foe, heal when wounded, and so forth. The first state (or nonstate) actor to build superior fighters will make an enormous leap in the arms race. In the short run, researchers are trying to devise aids that would overcome a person's inherent limitations, such as mental fatigue. Long-term results could lead to individuals everywhere who are tireless, less fearful or even better speakers.

Here's a link to Moreno's recent book on the subject.  (Cross-posted.)

Posted by Adam Kolber on December 1, 2006 at 08:39 AM | Permalink


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