British chess champion: Equipped for life at the top

British chess champion Jonathan Rowson credits his 14-year practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique with preparing him for life at the top of his game.

The three-time UK chess champion told The Deccan Herald during a visit to Delhi that he regularly practices the Transcendental Meditation program as part of his daily routine. Born in Aberdeen, Scotland, Mr. Rowson, 33, learned the Transcendental Meditation technique in 1998 while attending Oxford University, and now says he owes his first-class degree to it. “It was by far the best thing I learned at Oxford,” he told a Scottish newspaper. “I suddenly had more energy, concentrated better, and felt warmer towards other people.”

jonathon-rowson-chess-championMr. Rowson, who has also a degree from Harvard University, is a widely-read author and columnist.

About the game and his love for it, Mr. Rowson says, “I first learned chess when I was five. The game has a certain magical quality. I had begun to read about chess when I was young, and then by sheer providence won 250 pounds worth of chess books! I studied them voraciously and that’s when I really started to get good.”

Mr. Rowson claims that he would never dream of playing a serious game of chess without meditating beforehand. “Twenty minutes later I feel calm, centered and ready to compete – but, more importantly, the technique allows me to ‘just play’ and enjoy the game without worrying about the result.”

In 1997, Mr. Rowson came in second in the European Under 20 Championship. In 1999, he won his third and final Grandmaster norm (and with it the title) in the Scottish Chess Championship. He went on to win the event again in 2001 and 2004, completing a rare double when he went on to become the 2004 British Champion. He successfully defended his British title in 2005 and again in 2006.