Ontario’s frozen chess game looks like Canada’s version of ‘Queen’s Gambit’
This ice-cold Ontario chess game will give you chills.
Nick McNaught, a resident of Toronto, is part of Without Borders, a community of people testing their discipline through activities such as exposure to cold.
Editors Choice: Two Canadian astronauts tell us why the New Moon mission is so important (VIDEO)
Recently McNaught added a new level of difficulty to their cold water dives by incorporating a chess game.
In one Instagram Video, McNaught and his friend can be seen playing a five-minute game of chess while neck deep in frozen Oak Lake.
McNaught spoke with Narcity about the game below zero and how it came to be.
What inspired this cold water bath?
McNaught has taken part in events like the Polar Plunge before, but this year he decided to take on new challenges.
“I was closing my cabin this fall and was swimming every day,” he said. “I was just like, I don’t want to stop.”
He started daily dips in the water to slowly adapt to the cold temperatures. Eventually more people started to join us.
There are now around 50 people taking part in the cold dives at different times, he said.
“I’m someone who likes to test discipline, I like to seek out discomfort.”
“I like to find my edge and then see if I can break through it. And this was the perfect opportunity to do that.”
How was the game of chess born?
Winter dips were taken to a whole new level when McNaught and his friend added a chess set to the mix.
“We thought we were going to sit for at least five minutes,” he said.
“What can we do that’s socially distant that’s also going to add another layer of mental fatigue?”
They had a chessboard nearby, so they climbed through holes in the ice, placed the board between them, and played for five minutes.
“We were like… let’s see if we could actually focus on a game of chess in freezing water. Turns out you can.”
What is the experience?
McNaught started with 30-second lows, then worked up to the eight-minute mark.
“When you first jump and get submerged for the first time, there’s that first shock and adrenaline,” he said.
He explained that the discomfort builds up around the two-minute mark before things change.
“It’s a very intense battle between body and mind, and at first you’re just trying to escape,” he described.
“As you’re able to sit with that discomfort, it starts to transition almost into this meditative process where you become at peace with it.”
He also mentioned that he would be open to more games in the water, in the middle of the ice.
“Maybe next time it will be poker,” he laughed.