"In fact, besides the problem of pappy fingers, the hot water is very conducive to a relaxing game and helps the supply of blood to the brain."
OK, what are the two best things to do in Budapest?
Drink the sweet wine, Tokaji, and eat goose liver?
Good guess, but before you get to those delicacies you need to do a little exercise.
Number one, plunge into spa city and enjoy some of the most extraordinary thermal baths in Europe and, number two, play the game of kings in the chess capital of the world.
Surely chess doesn't count as exercise?
The mental gymnasium, my friend . . . the brain and body can be toned and tuned in Budapest.
But I'm only going for the weekend, how will I fit it in?
You are in luck, because in Hungary's capital you can do both at the same time.
At the Szechenyi Baths in Varosliget (City Park) in the north-east of the city.
I'm ready for a dip, what are the details?
Once in the park, look for the grandiose building next to the funfair and not Far from the metro stop. The place looks more like a museum or summer palace than a lido and even inside there aren't a lot of clues that you are close to hot-water heaven.
So what's the form?
Find the modest sales hatch among all the opulence of the entrance hall, buy a ticket for 1,200 Hungarian florins (£3), and then follow the white-coated attendants through a tiled labyrinth of stairs and turnstiles to a private locker. Remember to note your security number and prepare to enter another world.
Am I naked at this point?
Certainly not. A swimming costume is required for the mixed bath, and it is a good idea to bring your own towel, flip-flops and bathing cap.
OK, stop fussing, where's the hot tub?
You don't have to be a heat-seeking missile to find your way. Room upon room of hot-water treats and treatments: steam baths; mineral pools; enormous thermal plunges at different temperatures; tiered saunas; baroque bathing rooms; and warm jet devices that reach parts you didn't even know you had.
Lovely, but isn't it a bit steamy to play chess?
Yes, that's why you have to play outside.
There is more outside?
Much more. Find the tiny corridor to the lido and step straight into a crowd scene from a Fellini movie. Every body shape and size is represented, including bulges and implants that I had never previously seen. Close to Aphrodite's fountain in the 99F (37C) pool, you will find the hot-water chess players.
So how do you get a game?
The surefire way is to take your own roll-up chessboard and waterproof pieces, lay them out and someone will waddle over for a game. Or just hang around; before long someone will challenge you.
Is it all swotty schoolboys and old blokes?
The retired guys are in the majority but women and children play regularly. While I was there, one woman kept popping out of the pool between moves to look after her newborn baby.
Are they all serious players?
There are some but it is hard to be that serious in a bathing cap. You'll soon find your own level; I certainly did when I was dismissed by a bather in red cap and shades in a couple of swift moves.
Isn't it a bit difficult playing in the water?
Only if you are short. I watched two eight-year-old Japanese girls having to do doggy paddle while contesting a very intense game. In fact, besides the problem of pappy fingers, the hot water is very conducive to a relaxing game and helps the supply of blood to the brain.
Sounds marvellous, but does this make it the "chess capital of the world"?
There is a lot more to chess in Budapest than the Szechenyi Baths.
There are chess hustlers in the railway underpasses offering £1 challenges (don't expect to win - ever), high-level games in the parks and, most importantly, an international tournament once a month.
Is that unusual?
Most chess countries have only one a year. Lazlo Nagy, the larger than life organiser of the tournaments, realised there was a demand for regular high-level games and knew that Budapest could provide the raw materials.
What raw materials?
Grandmasters. To run an international tournament you need at least three GMs. In Hungary they are a cheap, and relatively common, commodity.
So Budapest acts as a chess hothouse?
That's right; people come for anything from two weeks to six months to immerse themselves in the competitive atmosphere.
Any trainers you would recommend?
Try Yelena Dembo, a 17-year-old international grandmaster. Originally a Russian child genius, she has moved with her parents to Budapest to improve her own game to male grandmaster level.
And where does the tournament take place?
In an old state-owned apartment at 10 Falk Mika Streer, close to the parliament buildings. Press the buzzer marked Magyar Sakkszovetseg and you will get a peep into the inner architecture and atmosphere of cold war Budapest. Lazlo welcomes visitors to the tournaments but remember this is high-church chess.
When is the best time to visit?
The tournament is usefully called First Saturday and begins on the first Saturday of every month, continuing for two weeks from four in the afternoon to nine o'clock at night.
Plenty of time in the day for players to visit the sights?
I'm afraid not, most of them spend all of their time studying their opponent's previous games. Post-match is a different matter, then they relax in one of Budapest's many cafes, discuss opening strategies and indulge in their favourite pastime called "Spot Bobby Fischer".
Fischer, the reclusive American chess champion?
Does he live in Budapest?
The Elvis of the chess world is rumoured to own a flat in the capital and has been sighted taking the odd tram ride and enjoying a quiet cup of coffee.
Did you see him, then?
Well, I cannot be certain but I think that the old guy who outclassed me in the baths had an American accent. Own up, Bobby, it was you in the red bathing cap and shades, wasn't it?
Information for Grandmasters: