Too old for Chess?

As I surveyed my face in the mirror this morning I reflected on the fact that although my hair may be starting to turn grey and also wear inexorably thin on the crown of my head (damn that male pattern baldness), at least I have gained the wisdom that comes from "experience" during my 36 years on this earth.

Then I thought, what wisdom?  Sure, I know know that running with scissors in your hand is a bad idea and I should look both ways before I cross the road, but what about chess experience?  What nuggets of wisdom have I accumulated in that sphere of my life?

I realised then that although I have read a lot of chess books and played a lot of chess games, I'm still confounded by this wonderful "game of kings" and perhaps that will never change.  Even if I packed in my job and jetted off to Iceland for personal chess lessons with Bobby Fischer himself for the next 10 years, I'm very unlikely to get to be a grandmaster.

Perhaps chess improvement a bit like keeping fit.  We promise ourselves that we will go to the gym 3 times a week, do sit ups every morning until it hurts so much we cry, and eat 5 portions of fruit and veg a day like our chain-smoking doctor tells us to.  But in reality we wake up too late to do the sit-ups, are so tired we collapse on the sofa when we come home from work, and the fruit dish hasn't seen any fruit since you brought some home from your last hospital visit. Laughing

So it is with chess.  My best intentions to study go up in smoke as I succumb to the temptation to watch TV or check my favourite websites again.  But does it matter?  I enjoy playing chess and can't really imagine life without it.  I'm just going to keep trying to improve, make lots of chess friends and enjoy myself.  Who could ask for anything more?  


  • 5 years ago


    life begins atbirth,both being young and old has its advantages and disadvantages.whatever we pursue  and imagine what life is to be.,is sooner or later we will arrive at our destiny or it will become one.s reality.death willcome and every will die when his moment will come..lets make our world a better place to live in while we are still beauty and all good virtues will always be appreciated even when we are gone.

  • 6 years ago


    Life is game too!

  • 6 years ago


    Or too old for LIFE?

  • 6 years ago


    Now THAT list is Inspirational! 

  • 6 years ago


    I just came across this Blog, and since I'll be 77 in three months, decided to throw in my two cents worth. I learned chess at age eight, in 1942, and have loved the game ever since, though not playing for as much as twenty years at a stretch. Since joining last January, I've learned a ton from the games, both my own and those of others, as well as the video lectures and the chatter on this website. My rating shows it. Chess is very close to the mental effort I had to do as a trial lawyer for thirty years: strategy and tactics, timing, psychology, planning, the ability to change plans quickly, and knowing when to quit. is the absolute best of the sites available.

  • 6 years ago


    Inspiring list Bill Wall!

  • 7 years ago


    Chess is a timeless sport for all ages... if a 9 year old can become a GM then I see no reason a 36 year old couldn't do the same. You just need to have confidence, and diligence!

  • 7 years ago


    Plain and simple:  YellChess is great therapy for the old brain, to keep it active.

  • 7 years ago


    I'm nearly 63 years old and am renewing my active chess life after a lull of over 30 years (not that I'm any good at it!).

    Still maintaining my career as a language instructor, I occasionally tutor middle-aged folks who warn me that their "advanced age" will be a handicap in their quest to further their knowledge. I respond by providing some of the examples Billwall listed above, as well as others such as Artur Rubenstein, who made a masterful recording of Beethoven's Emporer Concerto at the tender age of 90!

  • 7 years ago


    I recently hit 60 (been playing since I was 10); I love the game as much now as I ever did. Found the following statement in your blog that really resonated for me.

    "I enjoy playing chess and can't really imagine life without it.  I'm just going to keep trying to improve, make lots of chess friends and enjoy myself.  Who could ask for anything more?" 

    I generally play every day at lunch (just a friendly game, with lots of interactive banter and forgiveness for blunders); I haven't played in a tournament for years. Haven't had time to "study" chess for a long time (since I really become involved in my profession). Look forward to vacations and long weekends for the opportunity to read about chess, but almost always something else interferes. Will keep trying! Online chess has been a wonderful "extra". Hoping to be able to spend more focused time to improve my game (which was better when I was younger).

  • 8 years ago


    I'm more afraid that one day i will think, i spoiled my life with chess.

    It didn't serve any purpose, nor did it help anyone, nor did it make me a better person, nor did i make new real friends with it.

    If one threats life as a game, maybe then its nice, but then why this game.
    Wouldn't it be better study for work instead of chess?
    Why is it great to win a mind challenge, instead of embarrassing  as you proved someone else to be not as smart as you?
    Does it make people smarter or rather instead egocentric?
    If it would make me smarter then why do I already fear those conclusions?

    Why did i start thinking about this, damn...

  • 8 years ago


     I feel like a kid at 51!

  • 10 years ago


    i don't think you are ever too old.  the brain can continue to learn, unlike the body which can only be pushed so far for so long.  age and experience can occasionally beat youthful exuberence. 
  • 10 years ago


    Don't stop playing the game, even if you are a little old, and not the best in the world (I lose every chess match in the first ten moves...) It is too mentally stimulating to drop :)
  • 10 years ago


    I'm just a "club" player, although I haven't played in a club for many years.  Thanks for the list Bill, it's inspirational!Smile
  • 10 years ago


    Keep it up, Bud! We'll (I am 42 as I write) from now on be closer to 30yo than to 25yo. It cannot be all bad?
  • 10 years ago


    Here are a few examples of older chess players, not too old for chess.

    Joseph Henry Blackburne (1841-1924) played chess until he died at the age of 82.  He tied for 1st place in the British championship at the age of 72.  It is estimated he played over 100,000 chess games in his career.

    Paolo Boi (1528-1598) played world class chess until he died at the age of 70.  He defeated Ruy Lopez in front of the king of Spain.  He played chess with church members, including Pope Paul III.  He was offered to be made a cardinal, but he refused.  At the age of 70, he was playing an important chess match with Salvio in Naples, Italy, but lost.  Some say he was poisoned by jealous rivals and died.  Others say he caught a cold when hunting a died as a result of it.

    Grandmaster David Bronstein was playing chess in his 80s. 

    Arthur Dake (1910-2000) was the oldest competitive grandmaster in history.  He was still playing in international master tournaments in his 80s.

    Harlow Daly (1883-1979) played chess for over 75 years.  He died at the age of 95.  He won the championship of Maine at the age of 77, 81, and 85.  He was still playing chess in his 90s.

    Arnold Denker (1914-2005) died at the age of 90.  He was active in chess until his late 80s. 

    Gisela Gresser (1906-2000) won the U.S. Women's Championship at the age of 63.  She died at the age of 94.

    James Hanham (1840-1923) played master level chess until he died at the age of 84.

    Rea Hayes (1915-2001) played chess in his 80s.  In 1998, at the age of 83,he was the oldest player in the U.S. Senior Championship.  He won the Tennessee State championship at the age of 76.

    Hermann Helms (1870-1963) wrote a chess column for 62 years.  He published the American Chess Bulletin for 59 years.  At the age of 84, he was awarded the International Arbier title.  He died one day after he reached his 93rd birthday. 

    Kirk Holland (1911-    ), age 94, is still playing in chess tournaments in Chicago.

    Mona Karff (1914-1998) won the U.S. Women's Championship at the age of 60.  She died at the age of 83.

    George Koltanowski (1903-2000) died at the age of 96.  He was a chess editor for the San Francisco Chronicle for 52 years.  He became a Grandmaster at the age of 85.  He was still playing blindfold chess in his 70s.

    Viktor Korchnoi (1931-    ) is still playing grandmaster level chess at the age of 75.  He is currently the oldest grandmaster on the world chess tournament circuit.   In 2005, he was still ranked in the top 100 in the world at the age of 74.  He recently did a milk commercial of him playing a cow a game of chess in which he lost.

    Edward Lasker (1885-1981) was playing chess until he died at the age of 95.  He was still playing correspondence games when he died.  He became an International Master at the age of 75.

    Emanuel Lasker (1868-1941) played chess until he died at the age of 73.  At the age of 68, he took 6th place in the Moscow Intenational tournament.

    Andor Lilienthal (1911-    ) is the oldest living grandmaster and is still takes an interest in chess in his 90s. 

    Alina Markowski (1910-    ) is still playing chess in San Diego in her 90s.  She started playing postal chess at the age of 61.  She now has a chess club named after her.

    Jacquest Mieses (1965-1954) died at the age of 89.  He was still giving simultaneous chess exhibitions in his mid 80s.  He became a grandmaster at the age of 85. 

    Mario Monticelli (1902-1995) was awarded the Grandmaster title at the age of 83.  He died at the age of 93.

    Jared Moore (1893-1995) lived until the age of 101.  He was still active in postal chess until he was 100 years old.  He started playing postal chess at the age of 67.

    Walter Muir (1905-1999) played postal chess until he died at the age of 95.  In 1997, he wrote his autobiography, My 75 Year Chess Career. 

    Miguel Najdorf (1910-1997) played chess until he died at the age of 87. At the age of 81, he played in the Artentina chess championship.  At the age of 82, he played in the strong Mar del Plata open.

    Enrico Paoli (1908-2005) became a grandmaster at the age of 88.  He was the strongest active nonagenarian in the world, still playing chess at the age of 97.  He died less than a month away from his 98th birthday.

    Edith Price (1872-1956) won the British Women's Championship at the age of 76.  She was still running her chess club, the Gambit Chess Room in England, while in her 80s.

    Samuel Reshevsky (1911-1992) was still playing chess until he died at the age of 81.  At the age of 70, he took 3rd place in the U.S. Championship.  At the age of 72, he won a grandmaster tournament, held in Iceland.

    Rober Scrivener (1881-1969) won the Mississippi State Championship at the age of 80.  He was still playing chess until he died at the age of 87.

    Oscar Shapiro (1924-2004) was the oldest person to first make chess master.  He became a chess master at the age of 74.

    Vasily Smyslov (1921-    ) is still active in chess in his 80s.  At the age of 61, he took 2nd place in the Las Palmas Interzonal and played a Candidates' Match, which he drew.  He was still playing in the USSR championship at the age of 67.  At the age of 70, he won the first World Seniors Championship.  He won a Grandmasters tournament at Groningen at the age of 75.  He ended his chess career at the age of 80 because of failing eyesight, rated 2500.

    Mark Taimanov (1926-   ) is still involved in chess at the age of 80 and still gives simultaneous exhibitions.  He was World Senior Champion in 1994 (age 68) and 1995 (age 69).

    George Thomas (1881-1972) won the London championship at the age of 65.  He was awarded the International Master title at age 69.  He died at the age of 91.

    Norman Whitaker (1890-1975) played chess until he died at the age of 85.    He became an international master at the age of 75.

  • 10 years ago


    Are u professional?
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