Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 6th 2013 Contents the best in the world.
Korchnoi, in fact, is regard-
ed as the strongest GM
never to have won the
But we really don t have
to scan the international
chess arena to cast doubt
on the Age Factor, to find
strong players who have
defied the so-called "rav-
ages of time."
such as Mario Merritt, Cecil
Lee, Frank Sears, Andrew
Bowles and John Raphael
have maintained their
prominent place in the T&T
chess world over two
decades and more, even
against the challenge of a
rising generation of young
and talented players.
The fact is, they have not
lost their zest for the game,
and that quality, perhaps,
is the essential antidote to
the Age Factor.
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, June 6, 2013
The chess world is
keenly anticipating the
duel next November
Viswanathan Anand and
Magnus Carlsen, the 22-
year-old challenger from
But while the battle for the supreme chess title is
always an engrossing affair, this particular encounter
will hold an interest beyond what the enormous talent
of the two combatants will produce over the chessboard.
Let s call it The Age Factor.
That most humans suffer a deterioration in their
faculties as they get older is a fact of life. In terms of
the world s greatest mind game, the question then
seems appropriate, at what age does a player, especially
those in the grandmaster class, begin to lose his edge,
the sharpness that has brought him to the peak of his
In other words, will the Age Factor play any part
in the coming clash between Anand and Carlsen with
a 21-year gap between them?
Not unexpectedly, this topic has occupied a con-
siderable part of conversations among GMs. During
the recent London Candidates Tournament, it became
the subject of a discussion between GM Nigel Short
and IM Lawrence Trent who wondered about the
existence of a "peak" age in chess ability.
Short said he was intrigued by the debate, especially
considering two points; first, that the world champion
has been performing relatively poorly in the past two
years and, secondly, the hype that surrounds Carlsen,
the highest rated player in the world. Because of this,
he wondered whether youth is a major asset in chess.
Considering that the young Norwegian star, "the
overwhelming centre of modern chess attention," is
100 rating points higher than the Indian champion,
rated seventh, "many believe that chess ability may
resemble a bell curve when controlling for age," says
Short, "and the young are better fit to sit at the board
for six or seven hours at a time."
But will the battle at Chennai in November really
serve to settle this recurring question? Anand, it seems,
does not think so. Facing the expected criticism over
his present form, Anand pointed out that his victory
over Gelfand last year, bagging his fifth world title,
showed he was still the king of chess. Though the
game is not physically demanding, he noted that stam-
ina and mental agility play a key role.
The champion s lifestyle, being able to relax, take
long walks and "hit" the gym regularly also helps him
to clear the way for the magnum opus of chess.
Indian GM RB Ramesh points out that it s the
motivating factor that plays a vital role as you age in
chess. "It s not so much about physical or mental fit-
ness, but the actual task of egging yourself on to
achieve glory," he says.
"When you are young in the chess circuit, you have
various targets in mind---beat this particular player,
achieve a certain ranking, etc. But as you keep con-
quering all the big tournaments, like Anand has, moti-
vating yourself to do the same thing again and again
is the key."
Without denying the Age Factor, DR is inclined to
agree. The history of the sport, in fact, provides a
number of impressive refutations of the "old man"
syndrome; players, including champions, who have
dominated the higher echelons of the game well into
their middle age.
Perhaps the most remarkable among them is the
Russian legend Victor Korchnoi who retired last year
at the age of 81, ending a magnificent career that
included three challenges for the world title against
Anatoly Karpov, four Soviet championships and vic-
tories over most of the players who at some time were
the age factor
Viswanathan Anand...World chess champion.
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