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As the title says. When playing blitz (3 to 5-minute games), I experience eyestrain after 10 or more games. After that, I start to blunder. I get tired too fast.

In our area, it seems to be only me who has this issue because my opponents can play a whole day without signs of exhaustion. Their plays don't change while my play changes after few blitz games. It is like starting from Elo 1850 then after few games it seems that I am playing like in Elo 1500-1600 while my opponent's strength and any other players' strengths in our area are the same the whole day.

By the way, I work online for at least 10 hours each day Monday to Friday. I play only on weekends. I have computer eyestrain too (a different case, not OTB chess eyestrain). But on weekends I still get eyestrain even when playing OTB only and not using a computer. I get enough sleep on Saturday, so I should not get eyestrain on Sunday when playing OTB, but it still happens.

How do I solve this issue?

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    What is your age? must be an important factor here ... do you use glasses? ... Sep 21, 2022 at 14:24

4 Answers 4

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If you are genuinely getting tired "after 10 or more games" because of eyestrain and not just because you are getting old or you play in a stuffy, crowded room where there isn't enough oxygen then I would suggest you have a problem with the lighting.

In some playing areas I have problems when there is not enough light (maybe I'm in a darker corner of the room) or there is not enough contrast between the colours on the board and / or the colours of the pieces. This can give me eyestrain and make me feel tired but it would happen to me much quicker than after 10 games of blitz. If anything for me it would get a bit better after a while as my eyes and brain adjust a bit to the bad lighting conditions.

Note that some people have a problem the other way with over bright fluorescent lighting so I guess for tournament organizers it can be tricky to get it just right.

If I were you I would try and work out which lighting conditions give you the most problems and either sit somewhere where these problems are minimized and maybe if necessary ask the tournament organizer for help on this.

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    Thank you for your comment Brian. Yes, it is not because I am getting old. I am just 25 and my opponents are 50+ years old. Do you think there is a medical treatment for this? Glasses won't help? Jul 5, 2015 at 7:23
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Possibly your eyestrain and performance drop are symptoms of a dropping blood pressure and physical tiredness. I used to have very lopsided scores in the two halves of rapid tournaments as well. Nowadays I try:

  • Keeping the blood sugar level up.
  • Washing my face with cold water.
  • Some coffeine intake: Better a cold coke than a coffee.
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    I am curious about blood pressure. Seems I have to read more about that. Did you not visit any eye doctors? Jul 5, 2015 at 7:26
  • No, but for me eye problems were never the main symptom. What kind of eyestrain do you develop? Blurred vision, eye pressure, red eyes? Jul 5, 2015 at 8:11
  • They feel hard and dry and look swollen. Jul 5, 2015 at 8:18
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It may be that you need glasses or adjust their strength if you already have some. Your eyes can compensate this to some degree, but it is really tiring and can easily lead to the symptoms you describe.

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You should check the equipment.

What colour is your board? A mid-green-white board is much more gentle to the eyes than a black-and-white board. It's even more stressful for the eyes when the pieces are also Black and White and you have to strain your eyes to recognize black pieces on black squares. If you do not like green, you can also use other colours you like, as long as the contrast between the light and the dark squares is not too strong and you can easily and quickly recognize every piece on every square.

Chess.com uses this as their default. The "white" squares are not white and the dark squares are green. This is pretty optimal for the eyes, even though it may not be the prettiest, for (at least) the following reasons:

Chess.com uses this as their default. The "white" squares are not white and the dark squares are green. This is pretty optimal for the eyes, even though it may not be the prettiest, for (at least) the following reasons:

  1. The contrast between light and dark squares is not too strong
  2. No matter on what square a piece stands, you can always easily recognize the exact piece. White pieces have a slight contrast on the light squares and the black pieces have contrast on the dark squares.
  3. There is still enough contrast between light and dark squares to tell them apart instantaneously.

Wooden boards are usually also very good for the same reasons, as the squares are coloured in two different shades of brown.

The following is an example of probably one of the worst possible setups:

enter image description here

It can be easily fixed by switching to a green board - then it would be a fantastic and beautiful set:

Much better!

I don't assume a medical issue in your case, especially because you're only 25.

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