Chess and Weight Loss: In-Between Moves


Unlike checkers, where captures are compulsory, in chess one may delay a capture by playing an in-between move, also known as an intermezzo or a zwischenzug. When losing weight, there are likewise plateaus in between big changes.

Women’s FIDE Grand Prix Series

photo by John Saunders/FIDE

The Women’s FIDE Grand Prix Series, covered in a previous SparkChess column, has concluded. In Round 6, International Master and Woman Grandmaster Gunay Mammadzada won against International Master and Woman Grandmaster Alina Kashlinskaya. What should White play on move 25?

Click to reveal the solution


(25. Rxd2 Nxf3+ 26. Bxf3 Rxd2 Black has a small edge if White captures Black’s queen directly. So what should White do instead? 25. Qxf7+! A queen sacrifice, which White played.)

25… Nxf7 26. Rxd2 Kh7 27. c4

White is winning. She is a passed pawn ahead and her pieces are more active than Black’s.

27…Ng5 28. Kg2 Ne6 29. Rxa7 Nf4+ 30. Kg3 g5 31. Be4+ Kh6 32. Rxd8 Rxd8 33. Ra8 Rxa8 34. Bxa8 Kg6 35. a4 Ne6 36. a5 Nc5 37. Bb7

Weight Loss Moves

Just as immediate recaptures do not always happen in chess, weight loss may be slow too. After all, the extra pounds didn’t pile on overnight, and they won’t go away instantly either. Here are some photos and details from my weight loss journey thus far. The first “Chess Mom” photo was taken in July of 2018. Then, I weighed just over 160 pounds.

Although I don’t have a photo at my peak weight, after gaining the “Quarantine 15” pounds, I remember being told that weight when I donated plasma. The amount of plasma one donates is based on body weight categories (110 to 149 pounds, 150 to 174 pounds, and 175 to 400 pounds). These categories are set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). At 175 pounds, I had moved into the top weight category. Thus, I was hooked up to the apheresis machine for a long time. A nurse at the plasma donation center suggested the Lose It! weight loss app and website, which I then started using on my computer. I have lost weight since that day in April of 2020.

Weight Loss Results

Even though I still should lose more weight, and intend to, let’s pause and celebrate what I have accomplished so far. Here are my statistics from my annual physical exam on June 11, 2021, a year and two months after my peak weight.

Alexey vital signs

In my younger years, I used to be 5 foot and 3¾ inches tall. Apparently, I have shrunk to 5 foot and 3¼ inches tall. My height affects my BMI calculations. As explained by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) website, “Body mass index (BMI) is a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters.” A desirable BMI is between 18 and 25. Due to my shrinking height, my current BMI is just above that range, at 25.13.

Nonetheless, I’m thinner than I was in both April of 2020 and in July of 2018. Here is a current photo, wearing the same clothes as in the “Chess Mom” photo from 2018. Read my previous weight loss articles for some of my triumphs and challenges along the way, featuring several in-between moves.

July 2018 (160+ pounds)
Chess and Weight Loss: In-Between Moves
June 2021 (143 pounds)
WIM Alexey Root, PhD

Alexey Root is a Woman International Master and the 1989 U.S. Women's chess champion. Her peak US Chess rating was 2260. She has a PhD in education from UCLA. You can find her books on chess on

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