The Beauty of chess


I am also getting back into chess.

Very humbling.



As I’ve said above. It’s just my anecdotal experiences and the impression from the people I interact with in my daily life. I’ll be glad to be proven wrong as time goes by.

Curious though about the average age of the players of Chess. I don’t have the data, but when I was younger (maybe I had a bias for people like Bobby Fisher, Capablanca, Botvinnik, Kasparov, Karpov etc and may be biasing my own ‘data’), the average age of the top players seem to be younger. That is a good measurement to track whether any field is being refreshed.

Edit: Just occured to me that another good tracker would be to see the lifetime earnings of professional chess players. That would influence the decision and opportunities to turn professional.


These days the top players tend to be younger, and players are definitely reaching GM strength at a younger age. You still get older people playing at high levels though, such as Korchnoi who has still battling until a couple years before he died.

Players these days have access to extremely powerful engines, databases containing millions of games, and the ability to play people online at any time or receive coaching remotely. For most people that earn money through chess it isn’t by playing, but through teaching. The number of players that can make an actual living with just playing is very small.

Live ratings of top players (shows age):

so you still have folks like Gelfand, Ivanchuk, and Anand competing at a high level. Wei Yi at 18 is currently #14.


Top 10 players in 1975 (11 were listed, I assume that meant a tie for 10th, source:, sorted by age, compared to today (also 11 players to make it even):
Petrosian - 46 Anand - 47
Korchnoi - 44 Kramnik - 42
Polugaevsky - 41 Aronian - 34
Larsen - 40 Grischuk - 33
Tal - 39 Mamedyarov - 32
Spassky - 38 Nakamura - 29
Portisch - 38 Vachier-Lagrave - 26
Fischer - 32 Carlsen - 26
Huebner - 27 Caruana - 25
Ljubojevic - 25 So - 23
Karpov - 24 Giri - 23

Average age, 1975: 35.8
Players under 30, 1975: 3

Average age, 2017: 30.9
Players under 30, 2017: 6

Even if you cut out Giri (who is 11th today), there’s more players under 30, half as many over 40, and the average age is 31.7, which is 4 years younger.


Good to see my bias dispelled. :)


Chess is also taking off* in China and 5 of the 6 top Chinese players are in their 20s. I expect over the next 10 years the 2700+ field is going to have a lot more young, Chinese GMs.

*from a very low base


But so far as I know there’s still no hope of purging FIDE. One big difference between 1975 and today is that back then FIDE wasn’t a corrupt organization run by criminals.


There was some nonsense earlier this year where it sounded like Kirsan had resigned, but I’m not sure what the end result of that was. The system is a bit screwed up because federations with very few players have the same vote as anyone else, and he is able to bribe people to get the votes he needs. Even Karpov and Kasparov have not been able to unseat him.

As long as Kirsan has the backing of Putin and the Russian Chess Federation he probably isn’t going anywhere.


Kirsan isn’t that important. Makropolous is doing the daily business and pulling the strings, and has so for decades.


Kasparov sitting at -1 after 6 rounds of the Rapid/Blitz tournament in St. Louis. Not bad considering it is his first rated games in 12 years.


As an aside, I recently read: Mortal Games, the Turbulent Genius of Garry Kasparov by Fred Waitzkin and loved it.


AlphaZero walking over Stockfish is pretty amazing. Especially the style of chess it seemed to play


No wonder it beat Stockfish - AlphaZero has an ELO of over 5,000! That’s insane - the previous best computer chess program had an ELO of around 3,400, while Carlsen is around 2,850.


I’ve been playing on this new site

It has play money gambling. Like your position? “Kontra” the opponent and double down on the stakes. Reminds me of when I used to play chess in washington square park in new york, except we doubled down AFTER the game :)