We burn calories all the time, just by breathing, but Antipov’s rate is truly remarkable. It’s like he’s having a brisk walk, or even a light swim, for the duration of the game — but he’s sitting down. As the event’s photographer FM Maria Emelianovva noted, the stress of chess was making Russian GM Mikhail Antipov‘s heart pump, which made him consume more calories — a higher heart rate requires more breathing, which increases the number of calories you burn.
So is chess a sport?
The question is not trivial, as classifying chess as a sport could make a big difference for receiving funding and organizing competitions — it could make a big difference for chess all around the world. Does burning a bunch of calories justify classifying chess as a sport?
If you ask the International Olympic Committee and many countries, the answer is ‘yes’ — though not because of burning calories. But in the UK, for instance, it’s not, as authorities state that it doesn’t have a physical component. Some have expressed hope that the heart monitors could be used to justify re-classification, though that’s mere speculation at this point.
There’s no denying that chess is good for the mind, and as it turns out, it can also burn quite a few calories — but if you want to lose some extra pounds, you’re probably better off simply sticking to a healthier diet and working out once in a while.
Antipov’s opponent, Super GM Hikaru Nakamura, also agreed to wear a heart monitor, and at one point, his heart rate jumped to a remarkable 130 beats/minute. Ultimately, their game ended up in a draw.