The Chess Files: How old is too old when it comes to competing for the World Championship of chess?

The Chess Files

The answers are out there.

By Jim Eade

How old is too old when it comes to competing for the World Championship of chess?  43 year-old Vishanathan Anand had defended his championship several times over a number of years, when he was challenged this year by the 23 year-old Magnus Carlsen.  Anand lost the match in a manner that left no doubt that Carlsen deserved to win.

In fact, it has been some time since Anand has turned in a performance that would be considered World Championship caliber.  When I tell non-chess players that chess is a young person’s game, they are taken aback, if they don’t outright laugh at me.

It would seem to the casual observer that Anand and Carlsen were pretty much sedentary, as they carried out their battle for the World Championship.  Experienced players know better.  Heart rates become elevated.   Blood pressure rises.  Tension can also play havoc with one’s nerves.

Carlsen indicated after one of the early games that he realized that he could become World Champion when he discovered that Anand, despite all his previous experience, was just as nervous as Carlsen was.  The only outward sign of such nervousness is shaky play by a player who is normally rock solid.

Anand’s last best chance was in game 9 when he was subjecting Carlsen to a fierce attack.  Carlsen confessed later that he had been afraid of getting mated.  Anand’s 28. Nf1 was a huge mistake.  28. Bf1 would’ve kept the attack going.  How could a player such as Anand make such a move?  The simplest answer is that his nerves failed him.

Young players experience the same level of stress, but they tend to handle it better.  Top flight chess is a young person’s game.

As always, you can send your chess questions directly to me at


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