On average, what is the age of people when they obtain the title of international master or grandmaster? I also wonder how the age distribution looks like.


1 Answer 1


Brilliant little data mining project!

I used the wiki list of GMs and wrote a quick and dirty script to extract the data. Feel free to use and expand/alter it, if you are interested.

As it turns out, the average age for reaching GM is just above 28. It is, however, skewed by "old" generation players and players from time before GM title was a thing. It was officially introduced in 1950 and some (old) players were awarded it at the time. It is intriguing to look at average age in different generations of players. And so:

  • For players born after 1945, the average is slightly above 26 years old.
  • For players born after 1970, the average is slightly above 23 years old.
  • For players born after 1975, the average is slightly above 22 years old.
  • For players born after 1980, the average is 21 years old.
  • For players born after 1985, the average is just shy of 20 years old.
  • For players born after 1990, the average is 18.5 years old.

Clearly, on average, people are becoming a GM faster nowadays! The age distribution (for players born after 1945) is as follows: chess GM title reached by age

In case it is of interest, the two countries "producing" GMs on average at lowest age are India and China - both at 21 years old. Countries with most GMs (all time) are Russia (by huge margin), Ukraine, Germany, USA and Hungary.

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    Interesting to see that, on average, people are becoming a GM faster nowadays (although this doesn't come as a big surprise). However, I'm not sure how to interpret the averages for younger categories? For example, players born after 1990 are at the moment younger than 25, so it is not possible to become GM at an age of 25+. (Nevertheless, I think it is interesting and useful to make the distinction per "generation" and to see the evolution.)
    – Maxwell86
    Aug 1, 2015 at 7:43
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    Fun fact (after a quick manual check of the wiki list): the 2 "record holders", for players born after 1945, are Larry Kaufman and Algimantas Butnorius. Both became GM in the year when they turned 61. Both after winning the World Senior championship, in 2008 and 2007, respectively.
    – Maxwell86
    Aug 1, 2015 at 7:55
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    For the entire list, including players born before 1945, it seems that Janis Klovans is the one that became GM at the oldest age (if we discard honorary and retrospective titles). He became GM at 62, after winning the World Senior championship in 1997. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J%C4%81nis_Klov%C4%81ns
    – Maxwell86
    Aug 1, 2015 at 8:13
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    @GloriaVictis Great answer! Any chance you could explain the regex for us plebs?
    – magd
    Aug 1, 2015 at 19:15
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    A little warning: The averages for the last years (1980--1990) will probably rise with time: When you are born in 1990 you are just 25 years old now and you have lot of time to become a gransmaster ... so don't be too quick with conclusions! Aug 1, 2015 at 19:28

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