Clouded Checkmate

Is a good chess move all in the … lungs?!?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Air pollution is hard on our bodies, particularly our lungs and heart. But can indoor air quality also CLOUD our thinking?

Steffen Künn and an international team of researchers wondered. 

They monitored air quality at a chess tournament… while also watching the players’ moves! Over six hundred games, sensors measured the venue’s carbon dioxide and particulate matter levels. Then, the team designed software to rate each chess move made. Artificial intelligence judged the actual move versus an algorithm’s optimal move.

And? Increasing air pollution by ten units raised the error probability by over three percent! This soared up to over twenty percent when players were pressed for time.

The researchers believe their findings reach beyond chess players. It’s important for anyone performing tricky tasks indoors, like in schools or financial firms.

Now… It’s your move!  First: take a deep breath.


Künn, S., Palacios, J., & Pestel, N. (2023). Indoor air quality and strategic decision making. Management Science.