The Swinburne University trial of the 'smart drug' gingko biloba recently concluded, with moderately good news for chessplayers hoping to find a serious performance enhancer.
The Swinburne Brain Sciences Institute tested gingko biloba in a month-long double blind trial involving 55 young adults. Participants were tested for memory, problem solving and other intelligence factors and by the end of the month those taking gingko biloba were found to show slight but significant improvements in memory, concentration and the speed of the brain's information processing.
The BSI reults are in line with previous tests, which had found that gingko biloba, which had found that the herbal extract from the ancient gingko tree was effective, albeit only marginally, in slowing dementia in some older people.
However test leader, Dr Con Stough, provides some words of caution for Grandmasters
hoping to gain strength by taking gingko before a big game. "The effects of gingko
can only be noticed over time. Doses of gingko, even high doses, do not seem to have any
immediate effect." Stough also noted that participants in the study with average
intelligence skills improved significantly more than who scored well on the initial tests,
indicating that gingko is unlikely to turn Grandmasters into World
Stough also warned that the results "should be treated with some degree of caution
until replicated in independent laboratories," as prior to his study there was little
evidence that gingko could produce cognitive enhancing effects in healthy young
individuals. That ginkgo should have some positive effects is not entirely surprising,
given its effects in improving blood circulation - Slough noted that gingko should not be used by those already taking regular doses of a blood-thinner such as aspirin.
Of course anything which improves a chessplayer's general well-being should improve their chess performance, so the additional news that a strong Australian chessplayer who has been taking gingko for a couple of months has just won a major state title is hardly significant. Nonetheless if the BSI conducts its next gingko test on chessplayers, they may find some very willing volunteers.
This week's game sees Michael Lip defeat Queensland IM David Smerdon, a key game in Sydney Grammar school's successful defence of its Australian Schools Championship title in Canberra last weekend.
National Schools 1999
Opening: King's Indian Attack
#1.Nf3 e6 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 c5 4.0-0 Nc6 5.d3 d5 6.Nbd2 Be7 7.e4 0-0 8.e5 Nd7 9.Re1 b5 10.Nf1 a5 11.h4 a4 12.Bf4 c4?#
Now Black lacks a ...Nd4 defensive option and White's attack runs like clock-work.
#13.N1h2 cxd3 14.cxd3 Ba6?! 15.Ng5 Qe8 16.d4 Rc8 17.Bf1 Nb6 18.Bd3 Bxg5 19.hxg5 Nc4 20.Kg2?!#
A minor mis-step. 20.Bxh7+ Kxh7 21.Qh5+ Kg8 22.Ng4 Ne7 23.Nf6+ gxf6 24.gxf6 mates immediately. Now Black gets some breathing space.
#20...f5 21.gxf6 gxf6 22.Qg4+ Kh8 23.exf6 Rxf6 24.Qh4 Qf7 25.Nf3?! Rxf4! 26.Qxf4 Qxf4 27.gxf4 Nxb2 28.Bb1 Rg8+ 29.Ng5 h6?#
After 29...Nxd4 30.Rh1 Rg7 Black is still in the game.
#(Diagram) 30.Rxe6! hxg5? 31.Bg6! Ne7 32.Rh1+ Kg7 33.Rh7+ Kf8 34.Rf6 1-0#
Tuggeranong Vikings Weekender
Leading final scores (48 players, 7 rounds):
2eq.B.Martin, J.Bolens 5.5;
4eq.V.Bragin, J.Marsden, S.Rafizedah 5.