Chess Age and Performance

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The chess game requires severe critical thinking, Analysis, and a colossal memory portion of the brain.

The brain, and other organs and muscles of a human being, depreciate over a long time of use. Many research works point to the fact that this depreciation starts setting in from heavy usage of 30years and that from then on, we know how the story goes.

Chess players worldwide are not exceptions to this scientific phenomenon but instead show a more delayed cognitive depreciation than most physical sports like swimming, to mention a few. A specific research work by psychologists and neurologists established a gradual depreciation in cognitive abilities noticed among professional chess players.

The research work spanned over 120 years of chess games, monitoring the playing abilities of each professional player as they progress with age. The research methodology employed used the help of chess artificial intelligence programs popularly called “engines” to suggest the best moves the players could have played according to their level of play which is checked against their progressing ages.


The research concluded Simply that chess players’ games improve consistently through their 20s up to their 30s and peak at around early 40 years. 

It is particularly evident when we check against the backdrop of some past world chess champions and pretenders and their peak ELO rating. Gary Kasparov, for instance, is presently above age 50 had his peak performance rating of 2851 at 43 years old. Viswanathan Anand, the first Indian Grandmaster currently aged 53, hit his peak ELO rating of 2817 at 41years, Vladimir Kramnik got his highest ELo rating of 2817 at 42 years of age. Vaseline Topalov also got his highest ever Elo rating of 2816 at 40 years. 

However, some chess players attain their peak performance before 40 years. Judith Polgar, a Woman Grandmaster who had defeated almost all world champions in one game or the other, peaked her performance at age 29 with an ELO rating of 2735. In contrast, the current world champion Magnus Carlsen hit the highest ever ELO rating of 2882 at age 23, a feat which many ascribed to the proliferation of chess engines into the chess world.

Photo Credit: The New Indian Express

Should we say that we should expect higher personal record-breaking from the current world champion by the research work conducted? I think that will be true. “But we shall see if he will also start depreciating in his cognitive abilities after age 40 just with his predecessors, ” A renowned veteran chess player said.

Research Article: Life Cycle Patterns Of Cognitive Performance Over The Long Run


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