Monday, December 08, 2008

Mental workouts

i work with an equities trader who loves sudokus... i once asked him why he liked it so much... he had 2 answers, one of which may be the secret to trading and the other to long life... will let you guess which of the below is which.

he said he always wants to challenge his mind, he believes that if the mind is not used, as one gets older, alzheimer's and the like will set in easily. if you have mental workouts when younger, as you get older, you will still have your wits about you. i've not done any research into this, but intuitively this makes sense. if you don't physically workout, your body will deteoriate.

he also said, that sometimes, as he does sudokus (or crosswords) it occupies his time and he is less inclined to trade... in today's volatile markets, you may think a stock is cheap being down 5% in a day, and you buy it only to have it go down another 3%... so by occupying his attention and time, he is less inclined to trade... or get into bad trades... don't get me wrong, every few seconds, he checks the screens, the quotes, and sees how things are playing out. his attention is not fully on the sudoku/crossword.

chess for me is a great mental workout. recently i started playing a game with a friend via a forum. the start and stop of the play is a little disconcerting. nothing like having a live responsive opponent in front of you. but despite that, he is very challenging. i am rusty, very very rusty. last time i played seriously was on a net forum, i played 2 games vs an expert-class player, he outclassed me by about 3 levels... meaning he was expected to win.. he did. i also had the position wrong in one of the games... i guess that is to be expected of a game that is played via a forum post.

back during my college days, i played a lot. every friday night, the manhattan chess club had a tournament. my friends and i would play, of course i had almost zero chance of winning.. many experts and masters were there... they may have even been a grandmaster or 2. imagine getting to play experts, masters and grandmasters every friday night? and consistently getting whupped. no matter how much i played and thought i improved, it was an humbling experience.

like boxing or MMA, there is something about chess for me that is this awesome contest of wills. both players are trying to impose their game on their opponents. moves are calculated with your plans of attack in mind... you think a few moves ahead... calculating what you think is the best response on his part to your move... he of course is doing the same... it becomes a contest of wills to see who can impose their attack over their opponent first... who has to 'flinch' and react to their opponent's attack and postpone your own to go on the defensive.

win or lose, my friend is putting me through my paces, and i am enjoying this stimulating mental workout. after this game, i think i will start playing chessmaster again. got it for my kids for their nintendo ds... never really had time to play, but it will help me avoid alzheimer's and the like when i get old hopefully lol



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Stickgrappler's Sojourn of Septillion Steps