Can air quality impact the decisions a chess player makes?

Mar 14, 2023, 9:53 PM

SALT LAKE CITY — The game of chess is based on strategic decision-making.

“I think every chess player hits that point where they are doing well but they are looking for every little thing they can do to improve their game,” professional chess player Kadeyn Troff said.

A recent study found that bad air can throw everything off.

Troff has played professionally in Utah for most of his life.

He said, “It’s one of those things that didn’t surprise me, you know. I never thought too much about the air quality and chess before that.”

Researchers and economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology looked at the moves chess players made and different levels of indoor air quality, specifically fine particulate matter – the same gunk that creates the hazy skies Utah sees in the winter.

“We find that an increase in the indoor concentration of fine particulate matter increases a player’s probability of making an erroneous move by 26.3%,” the study said.

The inversion is made up of high levels of chlorine and bromine according to a recent study. The study said particulate matter levels increase by 10-25% in the Wasatch Front area during a winter inversion period.

“When you sit down to just play a chess game, I think every chess player would just love to be like, ‘Hey, this is how good I am, these are my skills,’ and be able to execute whatever they’ve practiced for perfectly but it’s not that easy,” Troff said.

It isn’t that easy. The researchers found dirty air made decision-making harder and the more particulate matter, the more likely the player was to make a mistake.

The bad air quality can cause chest tightness, shortness of breath, and an increased risk of getting infections. In the long term, it can lead to premature death, lung and heart disease, and a higher risk of developing lung cancer.

“For anyone that really doesn’t understand chess or maybe is watching one of these top tournaments and wondering how could a top chess player just completely mess up if they really are the top, and it’s like, well it happens because we are all playing a game here on the chess board but we are also playing here (gestures to head) with ourselves,” Troff explained.

Researchers think this extends beyond chess tournaments and into offices.

For Troff, it’s still all about skill.

“You know you have bad air quality, you don’t, maybe it will make a slight difference but if you’re a good enough player, you should still be able to overcome the bad air quality,” Troff said.

KSL 5 TV Live

Utah's Air Quality

An electric UTA bus charges in Salt Lake City, Utah. (KSL TV)...

Ken Fall

EXHAUSTED: Electric transit buses in Utah and the hope for a carbon neutral future

Does the UTA plan for all-electric buses make for dramatic air pollution reductions along the Wasatch Front?

12 days ago

green mountains send up smoke to cover the sky...

Mike Anderson

New $850,000 grant to help Utah monitor wildfire smoke and protect students

We've all see it, the time in late summer and early fall when Utah skies become gray with wildfire smoke. Sometimes it's from other states, sometimes it's even from Canada.

12 days ago

Multiple bills in the Utah Legislature aim to target air quality and offer tax breaks for switching...

Lindsay Aerts

Here’s what the Utah Legislature is doing to address air quality

Multiple bills in the Utah Legislature aim to target air quality and offer tax breaks for switching to electric lawn equipment.

13 days ago

Jennifer Love...

Katija Stjepovic

Rebates make clean air upgrades cheaper for Utahns

It's no secret that Utahns are exhausted by our bad air quality but there are ways you can help reduce emissions from your home.

14 days ago

KSL TV investigated how other cities are managing their air quality. Pictured here is maintenance w...

Deanie Wimmer

Exhausted by bad air: Is smog-eating tech something Utah should consider?

What if Salt Lake could address our pollution problem with technology that “eats” the smog? Several U.S. cities and countries are doing just that with surfaces treated with materials that “neutralize” smog. Is it a solution Utah should consider?

15 days ago

LOGAN -- Cache County often captures some of the worst air in the country. That's due to it being s...

Mike Anderson

Cache County inversions capture high levels of ammonia pollution

Thanks to the geography and agriculture industry in Cache Valley, the area often has the highest levels of ammonia-based air pollution in the country.

2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Can air quality impact the decisions a chess player makes?