Effects of Mental Fatigue on Memory Function of Expert Chess Players

Document Type: Original Article


Department of Physical Education and Sport Science, Aliabad Katoul Branch, Islamic Azad University, Aliabad Katoul, Iran



A possible factor that may influence performance of chess players is mental fatigue. However, effects of mental fatigue on performance of chess players are rarely investigated. Aim of this study was, therefore, to explore effects of exposing to a mental fatigue protocol on memory function (pattern recall performance) of expert chess players. Thirty expert chess players (55-65 years-old) were randomly assigned into mental fatigue and control groups. Participants in mental fatigue group were asked to (re-)place observed ordinary and random chess positions on a blank chessboard before and after exposing to a 30-minutes’ mental fatigue protocol. Control group followed same procedure but they read a text about history of chess instead of exposing to mental fatigue protocol. Two ordinary and two random chess positions were used to measure pattern recall performances in pre- and post-tests. Visual Analogue Scale was used to measure the subjective rating of mental fatigue and motivation for upcoming pattern recall task. Results showed that exposing to mental fatigue protocol increased significantly the subjective rating of mental fatigue in mental fatigue group. Moreover, motivation was not different between groups before performing pattern recall task in posttest. Also, results revealed that exposing to mental fatigue protocol impaired pattern recall performance of expert chess players. Finally, expert chess players performed significantly better in recalling ordinary positions rather than random positions. Findings add to existing knowledge on effects of mental fatigue on a variety of sporting context and also provide support for Chunking Theory of Memory and Template Theory.