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Drug Testing For Olympic Chess Players? 344

Lawrence Person writes: "According to this AP wire story, they're thinking of adding chess as an Olympic sport. The downside? Mandatory drug testing. 'He's using steroids to move that pawn!'"
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Drug Testing For Olympic Chess Players?

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  • ...and the thin set of his lips with the cranberry-colored stain of sapho juice.

    They's probably using the Geriatric Spice to see what their opponent's next move is too!

  • I thought the new Samaranch stooge (Rogge-whoever) whos replacing him isnt too keen on adding more disciplines. If they do add chess, will they remove a genuine sport (genuine sport: involves running, jumping, sprinting, kicking, hitting or a combo of the above) which doesnt have much fan following and is seen only in the olympics? Maybe they be better off adding this sport []
  • Why not? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Masem ( 1171 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @09:01AM (#2114268)
    I see nothing wrong with having a consistent set of drug-testing rules applies to all contestants in the Olympics, regardless of the competition. This only promotes both fairness and sportsmanship in the Games.

    And as others have pointed out, there's more than just steroids that can be used to improve performance. Imagine a drug that can be used to simply keep the mind more alert for a longer period of time (the side effect being the need to sleep for several days afterwards to make up for it). I would surmise that a chess player that has taken such a drug would fair better than one that hasn't considering the length of some chess matches.

  • Irrelevent... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BMazurek ( 137285 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @09:37AM (#2114906)
    He's using steroids to move that pawn!

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the banned substances are chosen on a sport by sport basis. Therefore, perhaps steroids would be allowed for chess. Just not some concentration-enchancing drug. Or rather, the IOC has a certain set of standards, and the individual sports have others.

    Canadian Olympic Snowboarder Ross Rebagliati tested positive for marijuana use []. The IOC has no minimum amount set for marijuana use, but the Internation Ski Federation did...

    • I saw a late nite show here in Australia some time ago where a chess grand-master was being interviewed, and the host jokingly brought up the steroid issue. The chess guy said 'Actually, I *AM* on steroids'. He was asthmatic, and his medication contained substances banned in most sports.
      I'm pretty sure they wouldn't consider it 'performance enhancing' for CHESS, though.
  • A little off-subject here, but a couple of weeks ago I heard an interesting article by Frank Deford []* on NPR. The article concerned Lance Armstrong being accused of "doping" by the media, even after his drug tests came out "clean."

    Deford argued that we shouldn't worry about testing athletes for drugs, because many Olympians do it anyway. Drugs are becoming incresingly more difficult to detect, and increasingly being used by athletes. Even when drugs aren't detected, even the mere speculation of drugs can sully an athlete (like in Lance Armstrong's case.) If we want a level playing field, he suggests, don't test for drugs.

    *[A Sports Illustrated link on /.? The age of the apocolypse is here, I think...]

  • Chess as an olympic sport? *sigh* That's almost as bad as when they brought in baseball.
  • This really isn't a big deal. They should treat all the Olympic participants fairly. Not testing the chess players would be discriminating against the other participants in my physical events.
  • ... because the guy who created the Olympic Games also wanted to win a medal. Of course he won the gold medal. The same year they also gave out medals for photography or painting.

    All this happened around the year 1900.

    There's lot of stuff hidden in the old history books ...
  • Lots of atheletes can benefit from drugs in ways you wouldn't normally think of. Shooters, for example, have been caught taking drugs to lower their metabolisms so they can have steadier aim. Maybe for chess they will ban ginko biloba or even caffine.
  • by crackerjack911 ( 49510 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @08:57AM (#2122251)
    I just wonder how long till they decide to let big blue play. Only problem would be figuring out how to get a urine sample from a super computer.
    • Well, yes, I had this spare disk to restart and didn't want to take too much power from the main supply...

      Olympic Squad : What the Hell ! A spare disk !

      Blue : Well, yes, whats wrong with that ?

      Olympic Squad : Please follow us, M. Blue.
      We will also have to check your steppings. Using a higher voltage and starting this spare HDD motor as a fan Facility let us think you might have Overclocked during the competition

      Blue : No, It's Wrong ! I never did this. Anyhow, you have no right to discompile my log file. DMCA is still here to protect us ! And I just had the file pass through Rot-13 ! You Can't beat me without trepassing your Law ! You can't Decrypt without my aothirisation !!!

      Blue Squad : Under bill 1-2007 (Bill Gates against The World / USA) I have to read yor rights !

      You have the right to stable power supply ! Everything you write can be used to prosecute you. You cannot defrag during your detention time. Any use of non licensed source within your code can put you up to 5 years in Prime Number Calculus Detention Center

      Blue : Noooooooo !!!! I won't support this !!!
      I will BSOD if you come closer to the plug ! I warn you ! It will make a messy memory Dump in the news !!!

      Olympic Squad : Stop him ! I have a QNX floppy here with me. You won't suffer, I promise !!!

      To be followed

      011 100 000 011
    • Guess they'll have to get their sample from it's core dump.
  • by compwiz3688 ( 98919 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @08:57AM (#2122252)
    'He's using steroids to move that pawn!'
    Nooo.... They're overclocking Deep Blue!
  • I read somewhere that some of the banned drugs are just substances that are otherwise ilegal, not necessarily designated as "performance enhancing."

    But they don't say which is which. So, would it be an unfair advantage if my opponent could smell his next move? What if he was so fearful that my Bishop was going to strap him to a wall and go Inquisition on him that he played with more ferocity?

    I have a hunch that such abuse would have you busted back to playing old wooden puzzles [].

    In other news: The PC Turns 20 And We Are Supposed To Care []

    • Tried this in the 1969 Continental Junior. Results from early rounds were spectacular. Next day, however was dismal.

      Occasional attempts to repeat the experiment showed mixed results. As there is no ready means to ascertain dosage level of street acid, I can't quantify, but small doses generally produce better results.

      Also tries a few semi-serious games on Iboga (1 gram of raw bark) which shows promise.

      Also worth recalling is the No-hitter [] pitched by Baseball great Doc Ellis of the Pittsburgh Pirates under the influence of LSD on June 12, 1970. Ellis recounted the experience in a 1987 interview with High Times magazine., not apparently available online.

  • by dstone ( 191334 )
    Oh, how very western to invite chess to the Olympics. Great game, for sure.
    But I hope go [] is next.

    According to the Nihon Ki-in, there are at least 7 million go players in Japan alone. That's 5-6% of the population! Go is rampant in China (add maybe 36 million players to the previous number!) and very much so in Korea (maybe another 5 million players there). In the US, it's not as well known as chess, but I'll bet more people could/have/would play it than other esoteric olympic events like fencing or whatever that gymnastic ball and ribbon stuff is.

    But the big question: Is go more or less TV Friendly(tm) than chess?
  • by nege ( 263655 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @11:06AM (#2125732) Journal
    I was gonna play some chess, but then I got high, I was gonna play with the olympic best, but then i got high now i'm just sittin here I must confess, and I know why-- hey hey because I got high, because I got high, because I got high....
  • Damnit. (Score:5, Funny)

    by SirSlud ( 67381 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @09:00AM (#2129273) Homepage
    Damn. Drugs are about the only thing that makes chess interesting.
  • At first, the notion of testing for drugs in chess seems foolish, but not so after a second look.
    If they don't exist now, someone, somewhere will develop a drug that will improve your chess game. How do you then impliment drug testing? You could go 2 or 3 sets of olympics before the arguments are over. By then, chess would be as much of a joke as weight lifting.

    Another notion is whether chess be in the olympics. I believe that it was previously stated that the olympics were origionally to display skill in military arts. And what are they now? Is hockey any more martial than chess? At least in chess, you're eliminating the opposition. (though as a Canadian, I'd hate to see hockey removed from the games). And then there's synchronised swimming (ew)

  • Won't Happen (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wafath ( 91271 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @09:34AM (#2131188)
    Ignore the "Chess Isn't a Sport" arguements. That does not matter to the IOC. What matters is that chess is not TV friendly. The IOC cares more about ratings than anything else.

    posted by an irrate fencer, a sport that is in danger of being cut because we aren't "TV Friendly".

    • They are thinking about cutting fencing? Is this the same IOC that just started allowing curling to be an olympic sport? I can't think of much that would be less TV friendly than curling, and fencing is quite cool.
    • "a sport that is in danger of being cut because we aren't 'TV Friendly'."

      Solution? Skin fencing!

  • They should let the competitors take anything they like. The only drug that would be worth a competitor taking would have to improve mental concentration over long periods of time without causing serious mental problems in the long run. So far nobody has found anything that does not have profound negative side effects.

    A chess master might get an advantage from taking Ritalin in one constest but even that is doubtful. It is a very powerful drug that messes with several areas of the brain. If you are a chess grandmaster you almost certainly don't suffer from ADD. Like if you had ADD how did you get there? You might well suffer from dyslexia which is the problem that many Ritalin victims actually have it being easier to prescribe an addictive drug than diagnose the problem.

    One of the ironic things about high school and college abuse of Ritalin is that the kids who take it so that they can concentrate hours at a stretch would almost certainly learn more if they took regular breaks. Fatigue is the brain's signal to the body that it needs a rest. Transfer from short term to long term memory appears to work best as a background task while the variables are not locked by another process. It is better to take regular five minute breaks than try to sit down for hours at a stretch.

    LSD may have helped the Beatles write Sgt Pepper but I don't think anyone considers that it would have helped their creativity over the long term if they had kept taking it.

  • Dangerous... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ChristianBaekkelund ( 99069 ) <> on Monday August 13, 2001 @08:51AM (#2136826) Homepage
    This is without a doubt dangerous territory to tread on...For, while I for one would love to see there be a contest of "mental" challenges of "Olympic" proportions, I don't think the actual Olympics is the place or way to do it.

    If Chess is added to the Olympics, it's only a matter of time before many many other "mental" games are petitioning the Olympic Commission for admission to the games. Instead of allowing the Commission to be very judgemental in what they allow, it'd make better sense for a mental Olympics to be wholly created outside of the existing Games, IMHO.

    • If Chess is added to the Olympics, it's only a matter of time before many many other "mental" games are petitioning the Olympic Commission for admission to the games.
      I understand your concern. Before chess, or anything else (including anything so trivial and wimpy as triathlon :) is added to the Olympics, it is obvious that the ultimate game, Poker, should be added. Preferably Hold'em.

      Let's face it, pretty soon the World Chess Champion will be a human only because computers are excluded from play. Hell, pretty soon your laptop will consistently beat the (human) World Chess Champion while you watch (the DeCSSed version, shh, don't tell anyone) of Matrix V and recompile Linux Kernel version 4.4 at the same time.

      Poker, thank God, is different. As explained by The University of Alberta Computer Poker Research Group []:
      Poker is an excellent domain for artificial intelligence research. It offers many new challenges since it is a game of imperfect information, where decisions must be made under conditions of uncertainty. Multiple competing agents must deal with probabilistic knowledge, risk management, deception, and opponent modeling, among other things.
      Now, if I haven't yet entirely hijacked this discussion, I will just have to try harder. :) The University of Alberta Computer Poker Research Group [] has implemented a poker playing program named Poki []. Poki is implemented in Java, and some of the source code [] has been released. To facilitate other research into poker, they have also provided a Texas Hold'em communication protocol [], which allows new computer programs and humans to play against each other online.

      See also: [] [Usenet]

      IRC Poker Server []

      Greg Reynold's Gpkr GUI []

      World Series of Poker []

      Great Poker Forums []

      Card Player Magazine [] [Currently down, but well worth a look.]

      Poker Digest []

      Gambler's Book Shop []

      And now, if you will, may we please have a moment of silence for Stu Ungar [].

    • Then maybe you can include Quake, bridge, backgammon, strip poker, etc...
      • In other Olympic news, it was found that 2 time defending quake champion CowboyNeal was found to have 10 times the allowed dosage of caffiene in his system.

        His gold medal status is pending until further review.

      • Be careful what you wish for. [] I think it is copletely absurd that chess or bridge are being considered for the Olympics. The Olympics are about physical sports.

        The real problem is that there are only so many sports that can be included in the olympics before it becomes impossible to house all of the athletes.
        • > The Olympics are about physical sports.

          It's about physical activity. The Biathlon derives from military activities (as do any shooting activities. Is Archery in there?) The Marathon run might, too, as might horse events. Don't know the origin of the steeple chase nor the triple jump.

          Anyway, the more cereberal among us should applaud the addition of brain games in a world where mere physical skill pointlessly is held up over mental abilities.

          And speaking of military, let's not forget the brutal, bloody carnage that is the real-world counterpart to synchronized swimming.

          • What exactly is your definition of sport if not physical activity governed by a set of rules? Does shooting, archery, etc. not fit this definition?

            What does it matter if the sport was derived from military activity?

    • Slashdot announces their plans to organize Mental Olympics 2002.
      Slashdot gets slapped with a copyright-infringement lawsuit.
      Slashdot announces the change to Mental scipmylO 2002.
    • Woah... (Score:3, Funny)

      by yatest5 ( 455123 )
      I can see the TV audiences for the 'mental olympics' being HUGE!
      • Re:Woah... (Score:3, Interesting)

        Heh...I'd watch. And I bet many other Slashdot people would as well...

        Massive ratings?....of course not...but SOME ratings if they actually got televised, sure. :) Of course, the number of actual events that get televised during the Olympics currently is absurd. Basically, it must have an American in it, and look very dynamically interesting. When was the last time you saw Table Tennis or Fencing or Judo or hammer throw or any of the other gazillion events televised?

  • I can see it now... this is a carefully premeditated plot to create a world class chess competition where computers could never play!

    Why? Because Big Blue would always fail the drug tests due to extravagant arsenic and lead counts! This is discrimination!! IBM should sue!!!

  • This also applies to bridge, which is on track for Olympic status, and already has had its first dope tests. []
  • The society we live in has put a higher premium on the mental skills, that's what is going on.

    To grok this we need to go back to the original Greco-Roman games. The games were feats of athletic skill and battle strategy, which were definitely essential survival skills during those days.

    Today, while these skills are still important, the mental aspect of strategy and tactics has become far more important.

    When a panoply of technologies can deter even the largest crowd (audio detterence technology, microwaves meant to temporarily blind people mounted on tanks are all part of the "nonlethal" arsenal) the controllers of these technologies are at the crux of social decisions.

    The Int'l Olympic Committee is supposed to consider the social relationships of the Games, their deeper meaning, etc. along with all the cash and entertainment values of the Games. Perhaps, by adding chess, this social value is their primary consideration.

    (It certainly won't add any entertainment or monetary value to the Games!)

  • Canada recently enacted laws making cannabis available as medicine for the seriously ill, and the US gov't continues to provide it for 7 individuals grandfathered in from Bush the Elder's termination of the Compassionate Investigative New Drug trial of the '80s.

    Would these individuals be barred from competitive chess?
  • Speed chess can be fun to watch. Watching regular chess is a good way to slip into slumber-land.

    I don't think any network will need to cover a regular chess game live. Even golf moves faster.
  • In an effort to save everyone's time, I propose that all of the quasi-sports that have slowly wormed their way into the olympics be combined into one event. We'll call it Splunge. The rules are as follows (sort of...):

    Contestants compete in a giant chess board shaped pool, each team representing the appropriate chess piece (pawns, knights, queens etc.). Teams alternate turns with their rhythmic gymnastic ribbons fluttering non-stop as they try to get the ball in the other team's net with table tennis paddles. Equestrian referees with badminton raquets shall penalize players who foot fault or allow the ball hit the sand. The match shall be declared upon completion of a flawless SDE (Synchronized Drowning Event) by either team.

    Anyone with me? I say we petetion the IOC for recognition of this event...

  • The USCF is talking about having drug testing at all tournaments. Would you want to have to urinate in the presence of the TD just to play chess? If you have a 9 year old son or daughter who plays chess, would you want the 50 year old TD taking them to the bathroom to watch them urinate? This is absolutely insane. Note that among the banned substances is caffeine! I've been playing in tournaments since 1984, but this may be the end of it for me.
  • Sorry, chess doesn't fit.

    Not every activity/hobby should become an Olympic sport.
  • no way! chess as an olympic sport? guess the geeks have to get in somehow. I'm still awaiting freestyle walking, dwarf tossing and log rolling to become olympic sports.

    • Did anyone think that a chess tournament between 16 people could easily take longer than the olympics to complete? Either that, our you're going to have to tighten up the time rules...

      Seriously, seing as they usually play multi-game matches, and I've heard of many matches over the course of, say, 8 hours or more, couldn't this stretch out??
  • by glebite ( 206150 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @08:53AM (#2144745)

    How about Ritalin or some other drug to improve concentration skills. What about some kind of coolness-under-fire drugs to block out the pressure? Are there drugs that won't 'zombify' a person, but keep them focused?

    Just asking...

    • You Betcha (Score:4, Interesting)

      by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @09:26AM (#2119769)
      I'm around medical students quite a lot. Now if you've ever seen what medical students have to learn, it involves huge amounts of memorization and studying upwards of 12-18 hours per day (including classes) much of the time. Obviously unless you are some freak of nature you cannot concentrate effectively for that long. (yes this includes programmers too...)

      I have numerous 2nd and 3rd hand accounts of the use of some prescription drugs (including ritalin) being used to aid concentration during long study sessions. (Obvously it isn't hard for medical personnel to get them or to know the side effects.) How widespread this practice is or how effective it is, I have no idea but it does appear to happen and apparently to some degree.

      Maybe that's why I was never a curve wrecker in college. Everyone else was doping... Yeah, that's it. That's the ticket...

      • Umm, you guys do know that Ritalin causes brain atrophy, right...?
      • Now if you've ever seen what medical students have to learn, it involves huge amounts of memorization and studying upwards of 12-18 hours per day (including classes) much of the time. Obviously unless you are some freak of nature you cannot concentrate effectively for that long. (yes this includes programmers too...)

        Luckily most good programmers are freaks of nature. ;)

    • That's a valid point, but I'm thinking there is a different reason for this.

      It would be a huge mess if you started trying to apply different drug-use standards to different sports. Imagine the confusion and potential for error...

      class A - swimming, track & field, gymnastics and wrestling - no steroids, no amphetimines, etc

      class B - fencing, skeet shooting, curling and equestrian events - no steroids allowed, but amphetimines are ok.

      class C - chess - take whatever the hell you want

      "no, no, no -- please just make it easier for us to know what we can and can't take by having one standard for everything!"
    • I wonder what it would be like playing chess stoned. You'd probably make amazing insights into the other players strategy (they're basing their attack from Darth Vader's plan in The Empire Strikes Back!)... all wrong of course.

      Alternatively we could numb the grand masters brain cells with alcohol [].
    • It sounds like beta-blockers would fit the bill, but I'm not a pharmacist. I used to get terribly nervous speaking in front of people, part of my EE degree was giving a report on my final year project in front of a rather large audience. A portion of this audience was hostile (some of the professors were out for blood, not for technical reasons but merely because they could)

      A friends girlfriend, a pharmacist to be, offered to give me beta blockers. I didn't accept, but she insisted that they'd make it hard for me to be nervous.

    • How about Ritalin or some other drug to improve concentration skills.

      These drugs would be okay for Quake, etc, but not for Chess, given their side effects inhelping a person going postal.

      On the other hand, Olympic Quake sounds like fun

  • by noz ( 253073 )
    Will they allow replicants like Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) to compete? He did help J.F. Sebastian beat Mr Tyrell.
    • [Mr Roy] I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate.
      [Mr Kasparov]Judge!. I think that my oponent has been using drugs again

      Ok, that was a bad joke, but I couldn't resist

  • that would actually benefit the chess player? Apart from ones that actually make chess *interesting* of course...

    • Here's a list [] you can start with.
    • Imagine a chess match in which the players drop some LSD or eat some magic shrooms...

      The players would get into a philosophical discussion on the underlying meanings of the game or they might feel sorry for the pawns since they always get the shaft.
    • I saw a story about this on last night. Submitted it, but it looks as if this guy beat me to it.

      The article on espn stated that doctors for the World Chess Federation said that caffeine and steroids and other drugs can give a person an endurance advantage when a match runs into the 5th or higher hour, which can lead to an unfair advantage in favor of an individual using an IOC-banned substance.

      I find it kinda strange that the same drugs that allow Mark McGuire (sp?) to hit dingers also gives the brain an endurance lift.

    • I beleive that a small dose of methamphetamine could be very benficial to a chess player. In my experience, if the correct dose is used, a general relaxed feeling comes over the user, as well as a feeling of confidence and speed of thought.

      The increase in cognative speed and the general projected confidence could be extremely useful in a chess match.

      You'd have to be very careful about the tendancy to over compensate though... [] has more information on various chemicals, some of which could be interesting in this discussion.
      • methamphetamines don't calm you down, they do exactly the opposite: They rev you up. You feel like you could run the 100 meter dash in under 10 seconds.

        As for the feeling of "speed of thought", that's exactly what it is - a feeling, nothing more.

      • As a professional chess player of 12 years, I would much rather play against some taking some sort of drug. As every chess player will tell you, in order to win a tournament you will have to play your best over the course of DAYS, not simply a few hours. Ridilin or Adderol would probably be likely choices, yet they both will lead to disrupted sleeping patterns and would overall hinder a performance the following days.

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