What is the prime age for a chess player? – and cheating in chess

The debate on cheating in chess was quite interesting. I played devil’s advocate a few times, though I personally do not have strong feelings on this issue. I have had 2-3 experiences where people were cheating against me the last ten years, mainly where their friends helped them. Luckily their friends (respectable GMs) got busy with their own games and the cheaters were left to their own devices, completely void of self-respect and self-esteem. I scored fine in those games and was happy to not get involved in the thinking about cheating.

Your votes show how divisive this issue is. I fear it will only get worse over the years. Poll-cheatingThis week’s question is a standard one. In recent times we had the two oldest players playing for the title in the last 100 years and the oldest World Champion since Botvinnik. In 2012 everyone told me that the match should be Aronian–Carlsen. Even Topalov! And today Topalov is no. 2 in the World rankings, Anand is close and Aronian is rated not much more than Gelfand… I am not even go into how Anand was not the rightful challenger last year and how Caruana deserved the match on the strength of one good tournament.

New players will always come through, and not evenly. When Anand, Shirov, Kramnik, Kamsky and Topalov broke through, the top 10 were young. Kamsky and Shirov have lost the hunger, but the three others are still possible contenders for the crown – unless you want to write Kramnik off after ONE bad year????

But everyone has his own opinion and it will be interesting to see what the general consensus will be.

24 thoughts on “What is the prime age for a chess player? – and cheating in chess”

  1. I think that the question here is :How old is the number one ?
    When a player is as great as Kasparov, Kramnik or Anand, he can stay longer at the best level. So Anand or Topalov beeing in top 10 is not the main thing, it seems to me.
    Kasparov became Wch at 21/22, Magnus was n°1 at 19, Anand and Kramnik later but they were already very strong as teenagers.
    So the first one, clearly.
    Still, Boris is great !!

  2. Yes, he can sometimes improve -like Kasparov.
    Or he can go down, like Tal, Spassky, Petrossian
    And Fischer, for the third possibility!

  3. I strongly object to the options in this poll.

    As someone who is already past 40, I want to believe that the peak age is somewhere after 40. Surely it must be!! Tell me it is, please.

  4. Note that of the list at 2700chess (44 players over 2700), *seven* are between 40 and 50. It’s not as if only Korchnoi and Gelfand were good over 40.

  5. I think a lot of it will have to do with a few factors.

    1. Health of the individual. This is a very telling factor at the highest level as almost any issue can cause large differences in the strength of play.

    2. Personal stress level. Life off the board can be a distraction so that can have some effect.

    3. Organization effect. Fide PCA debate anyone?

    4. Desire. This I feel is the largest factor. I think that a strong desire can make up for a lot. It can make you reorder your life, change habits, and even make you move across a country or a different country in order to compete.

  6. I think Carlsen will be objetively stronger in chess with 25 than now, but there are also some other issues as e.g. motivation, marriage, family, opponents better prepared to play against his style/discover unpleasant positions for him, etc. that could change his ranking position.

  7. Dear all

    In one of the discussions in the last 2-3 months someone came up with a very intersting variation against the catalan in which he had had good succes. It was something with Black playing 4-, dxc and later 0-0-0 around move no 8-10.
    I have not been able locate the comment from then – hope one of you will “reprint” the opening moves in that specific variation. Thanks

  8. @S. Hansen

    I don’t recall the comment, but there are not many lines where Black castles long against the Catalan, so maybe the following line:

    1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Bg2 dxc4 5.Nf3 Bd7 6.Ne5 Bc6 7.Nxc6 Nxc6 8.0–0 Qd7 9.e3 0–0–0

    But Boris Avrukh likes White, and his line in GM 1A seemed convincing to me.

  9. I.m.o. one of the most important factors to become a top player is the ability to keep your concentation during the entire game, game after game. All the other things are important as well of course, but I think without a good ability to concentrate you simply cannot become world champion. Without being able to back this up with scientific evidence, I think it’s fair to say that the ability to concentrate generally becomes less as one grows older. Of course there are always exceptions, but on average I think this is a fair statement to make. The only question is at which age this factor starts to dominate other factors such as experience / accumulatedf knowledge. I don’t have a clue what this age is, but my guess would be that after 40 it all goes downhill. Maybe you can compare chess with a sport such as golf, which is also mainly about concentration and not so much about strength or speed?

  10. Hello, I am thinking about buying Marin’s book on the English against 1… c5, just one question, what does he recommend against the Wedberg system 5… e5?

    Looking forward to this book and future ones?


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