Chess tournaments have long been ridiculed for required drug testing. And in truth, those requirements have mostly been about satisfying International Olympic Committee standards so that Chess might be recognized as a “mind sport” and just possibly included in future Olympic games.

Scientists, though, have now confirmed the potential benefits of performance enhancing drugs for Chess players. As reported in the journal, European Neuropsychopharmacology, a study of 39 rated Chess players over several thousand games found their winning results significantly improved after taking modafinil (marketed as Provigil), methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta, and Daytrana), or caffeine.

In the study, players were paired against a computerized Chess engine and given 15 minute time limits. Surprisingly, compared to those who were administered a placebo, players on all three of the drugs took longer to make their moves and lost more games on time controls. When controlling for game duration and excluding games lost on time, however, modafinil improved performance 15 percent, methylphenidate 13 percent, and caffeine 9 percent.

The researchers concluded that stimulants may lead to “more reflective decision making processes.” As a result, performance under relaxed time constraints may be enhanced.

In rapid and blitz games, though, use of these drugs could be counterproductive.

[via World Chess]