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As GMs age beyond their prime, their ratings will likely drop in Classical, Rapid and Blitz chess.

If we compare the mean Elo ratings of older and younger GMs across all 3 time controls, does it show the same decrease or are certain time controls affected more?

(I am asking specifically about GMs because I believe that age would be a limiting factor only in the highest levels of play.)


This question was inspired by the following amazing achievements:

In January 2007, Viktor Korchnoi was ranked #85 in the world at Classical chess, at age 75.

Boris Gelfand achieved 22nd place in the World Rapid Chess Championship 2021, at age 53.

Anatoly Karpov nearly defeated Spanish IM/GM Rey Enigma at Blitz chess in 2021, at age 70.

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    I do not believe this question should be closed for being "opinion-based." With the right analysis on the three OTB ratings since 2012, I'm sure one could provide a factual answer to this question based on top players' peak ratings and decline over time. Dec 30, 2021 at 18:46
  • Related (but different) question - chess.stackexchange.com/questions/24897/…
    – Brian Towers
    Dec 30, 2021 at 19:11
  • CSV dataset with FIDE ratings: kaggle.com/rohanrao/chess-fide-ratings
    – hb20007
    Dec 30, 2021 at 22:19
  • Question is fine , non-opinionated. Correct analysis can be performed if sufficient datasets exist. In which an average rate of decline could be calculated.
    – Merenix
    Jan 4 at 9:46

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Running queries against rating data downloaded from the FIDE rating data download page gives the following average standard, rapid and blitz ratings for players with the GM title over 50 and under 50:

50+ Std=2441 Rpd=2428 Blz=2412
U50 Std=2532 Rpd=2521 Blz=2515

Surprisingly that looks like no real difference to me.

GMs over 50 are understandably, on average, weaker than GMs under 50 but both sets are fractionally better at standard than rapid and fractionally better at rapid than blitz.

I tried checking for U30's and got:

U30 Std=2575 Rpd=2535 Blz=2538

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  • I assume these are the average ratings for December 2021, right?
    – hb20007
    Dec 30, 2021 at 21:59
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    @hb20007 You are right that it is easy for me to limit the search for players above a particular rating. You need to specify what you are looking for more clearly in your question, not least because some people are trying to close the question.
    – Brian Towers
    Dec 30, 2021 at 22:06
  • Based on the U30 results, it could be that the youngest GMs are better at Blitz compared to the other ages, but that would require analysis of ratings from different months to confirm. Also, GMs who are U30 grew up with the internet and likely play a lot more Blitz chess, so age by itself is not the only factor.
    – hb20007
    Dec 31, 2021 at 8:50
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    this analysis would be more compelling if most all GMs played age 50+. Perhaps only the ones who stay strong keep playing. Ideally this would be longitudinal so we can track individuals over time. Dec 31, 2021 at 14:25
  • @MichaelWest Indeed, that's a drawback of this method.
    – hb20007
    Dec 31, 2021 at 15:48

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