Is your best chess before you or behind you?

I am an optimistic guy, I believe that I will write a better chess book than I have done up till now. I believe that 2015 will be the best year for Quality Chess so far (and the publications we have out so far have been received in a way that makes this optimism persist). I believe I can make it to the first team at the tennis club next year and that I can one day make it to the finals in the club championship.

But I doubt that I will ever play chess as well as I did in 2007. Or in other words – although I understand the game much better now, I have lost something extra I had then. Maybe it was the excitement of knowing that I would become a GM in the near future, or something else.

What about you? Is your best chess behind you or ahead of you?


The results of last week’s poll:


20 thoughts on “Is your best chess before you or behind you?”

  1. Ahead of me, no doubt.

    I will have more time for chess in a couple of years.
    I have a lot of ideas stored up, but have almost no chance to put them into practice because I play so rarely.

  2. For me also ahead (I hope). The reason is that I am quite convinced I have never reached my potential (far from it), so if I put serious study into it (which I do) I can still improve even if I’m already ‘old’. Boki showed it’s possible to significantly improve even after 40 🙂

  3. Hopefully ahead
    Although not young anymore I never really trained in my youth. To be honest I never knew how.
    I came to chess later than most and quickly improved to a reasonable level (for a club player) but then reached a plateau. Finally after many years I am again making progress.

  4. I’m much too old to expect real progress.
    On the other hand, I played my best chess in 2014. Or was it 1987?
    Anyhow I still hope to reach a (slightly) higher level.

  5. I’m 41, have a family, too much to do, no time left for any chess study whatsoever and only 10 games last year. *Maybe* there will one day come a quieter time and I will use it for a real push over my peak, but for now I’ll be very happy if I don’t go down too much.

  6. That said, a 50 year old at my club scored his first IM norm last season, so maybe I shouldn’t lose hope too soon 🙂

  7. Gilchrist is a Legend

    It is not always that being younger is better to perform better at chess. Like in any sport, there are too many exceptions to make a rule. Australia’s test cricket team are #2 in the world and half of their players are over 35, some are playing better than their youth despite their being 37-38 right now, the “accepted” peak being around the mid-20s, like chess. In other words, the players that are usually considered past the age of retirement are playing better than most in their mid-20s.

  8. Like so many others I buy way too many chess books and DVDs. Of course it is fun to have this stuff, but the main reason is that I believe I still can improve, even at 45+.
    I guess if not so many players would believe in their ability to get stronger Quality Chess & Co would have a big problem with their business model.
    @ John Shaw: would you mind a share a thought or two about yesterday’s Rapport – Adams game?

  9. For health reasons behind what’s about the rating. But my understanding will become better because reading is fun.

  10. I think that 98% of us still can improve a lot and have a new peak period – but for sure we need to be aware of our strength and weakness!
    Like in the younger days we were fast and strong in tactics, calculating and with a huge amount of killer instinct, but with a lower depth of understand of the positional advantages.
    As we grow older our calculations strengths drops – but on the good side we should have a fine positional understand (or a least work on getting it)and properly also of the endgame. The killer instinct might have gone down a little.
    In the long run it will be those with the best positional play that stays on top the longest.
    As times goes by many of us grows up, gets family and the days gets booked up with other task. Therefore it is very important to learn something every time we use time at the chessboard – besides having fun of course. Another point is also to play controlled games starting from a “simple” opening that we understand the strategic themes in and be happy to go into and play the endgames as well – no running away from the board and settle for a draw just because it is getting a bit uncomfortable.
    As someone mentioned here on the blog “I think that 2000-2300 people choose too complicated opening systems” – I fully agree.
    The motivation to improve, focus on the concentration and the will to put in the effort are the key words.

  11. @ Jacob Aagaard (and Hesse Bub),”I can share a thought easily – I will look at the game”.

    What about the last round game bet Emanuel Berg – Nils Grandelius where Berg essayed the KG in a must-win game with white in order to force playoff?

    can you or John annotate for the QC newsletter?

  12. @weng siow

    Thanks for bringing that Berg game to my attention. We will certainly have a close look for a newsletter. But at first glance, the first 18 moves are all in the book. It’s a KG dream ending.

    Talking of newsletters: it has been too long since I sent one out, but we will get back in the habit very soon.

  13. My best chess is before you or behind me: honestly I do not know.

    If we look at the best rating performance – it is behind me.
    If we look at the joy I am having when playing – it is before me.

    Anyway, even if I quit chess, I still like playing it – from time to time – even if I do not make any progress.

  14. An Ordinary Chessplayer

    @s.hansen – ‘Another point is also to play controlled games starting from a “simple” opening that we understand the strategic themes in and be happy to go into and play the endgames as well – no running away from the board and settle for a draw just because it is getting a bit uncomfortable.’

    Agree that hard work at the board is a requirement, but this “stamina chess” you advocate is a double-edged sword for the aging player. Too many long endgames will result in poor relaxation and poor nutrition between rounds, as well as shortened sleep at night, followed by late-round blunders. I think it is better policy to have both simple and sharp openings in the repertoire, roll the dice sometimes. A shorter “lucky” win in the early rounds is almost a necessity, in order to have a statistically good tournament.

  15. @An ordinary chessplayer:
    These different playing strategies is excatly what makes the game so interstring and the battle of which type of game it will be.
    Not sure I know what a “Stamina chess” is – but we all have our individual styles.
    For me is it easier to outplay a lower ratet opponent in a controlled opening e.g Queens gambit etc where I fairly easy will make the understanding of the positions count.
    I normally prefer this as it does not involve much risk and effort – even if it might take some time – time which I will very much enjoy.

    I think it is something similar that Boris Gelfand is referring to in the new QC book.
    As I understand his formula it is – in my words – something like:
    “It´s not how fast you win that counts – but how safe you win”

    For sure we can go after a – as you call it – Lucky win in the first rounds, but doing all the calculation needed can for me require quite an effort. I also have these Sharp openings in my rep and put them on the board once in a while just to dust them of or if I want to mess things up.
    Again, I think it all goes back to where we have our different strengths/weaknesses and properly also which mood we are in that day.


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