125-year study shows at what age chess players reach their peak

After analyzing the history of chess games over the past 125 years, scientists at Hopkins University came to the conclusion that the aging rate of the human body and the brain does not coincide - in the brain, this process proceeds more slowly and gradually, as evidenced by the graphs compiled by the researchers.

So, until the age of 20, the skill of a chess player grows rapidly and by about 35 years old it reaches a "plateau", then to reach a maximum by 40, after which - after about 45 - the "descent" begins. It should be noted, however, that cognitive decline occurs gradually.

Many studies of cognitive abilities tend to rely on the analysis of skills related to decision making and working memory, however, the peculiarity of chess is that the success of a chess player also depends on his training and experience.

Scientists have analyzed more than 1.6 million moves in 24, 000 chess games involving 4, 000 players, of which 20 are world champions from 1890 to 2014. A computerized chess engine was used to determine the most optimal moves.

Dependence of the number of realized optimal moves on the player's age from 1890 to 2014

Research has shown that most grandmasters' careers peaked by age 30. Then, for about 10 years, they managed to maintain the achieved level, after which a gradual decline began.

The experience gain indicators changed in a similar way. In thousands of their slightly less experienced rivals, for example, it peaked at 37 years old. This fact indicates that experience is capable of shifting the time of achievement of playing skill to an earlier age. And the gaming practice of the last century confirms this. The emergence of chess programs and online games is contributing to the rapid spread of chess knowledge, thanks to which young chess players today gain experience much earlier than their peers 125 years ago.

Age pattern of generations of chess players from 1890 to 2014