Chess Facts That Will Make You Feel Old

Chess Facts That Will Make You Feel Old

| 67 | Fun & Trivia

As we approach the year 2023, the same distance from the year 2000 as the original theatrical release of Star Wars, the chess world chugs forward to the next world championship and another year of fun, excitement, and growth.

They say that age is just a number, although the word "just" does a lot of work in that adage. If that Star Wars fact didn't make you feel old, try these chess facts. 

GMs Younger Than Your iPhone?

It's January 9, 2007. Apple CEO Steve Jobs steps onto a stage in San Francisco, California. He is about to unveil the most groundbreaking piece of technology in years: the iPhone. Three weeks later, Microsoft announces its next operating system: Vista. Somewhat less groundbreaking.

Through it all, three future chess grandmasters aren't even born yet: GMs Marc'Andria Maurizzi and Bharath Subramaniyam were born later that year, and GM Abhimanyu Mishra in 2009.

Now imagine chess itself without the smartphone.

At least no grandmaster is younger than the iPad. Well, yet. The first iPad came out on April 3, 2010, exactly five months before FM Tani Adewumi was born on September 3.

It's hardly more comforting to know that "just" six grandmasters are younger than Twitter, as Jack Dorsey sent the first tweet on March 21, 2006. Among these, GM Pranav V was also born the same day the world champion title was reunified. Maurizzi was born two years after fellow Frenchman GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave earned his title in 2005. Or this: Anand became world champion on September 30, 2007; Bharath was born about two weeks later.

Player Birthdate
GM Denis Lazavik 2006
GM Leon Luke Mendonca 3/13/2006
Twitter 3/21/2006
GM Gukesh D 5/29/2006
GM Pranav V 10/13/2006
GM Christopher Yoo 12/19/2006
iPhone 1/9/2007
GM Marc'Andria Maurizzi 5/16/2007
GM Bharath Subramaniyam 10/17/2007
GM Abhimanyu Mishra 2/5/2009

When Magnus Wasn't Number One

The last time Carlsen was not the world number-one was back in 2011. He regained the top spot from Anand on the July 2011 FIDE rating list and hasn't looked back yet. So what was going on in the world back on June 30, 2011, the last time Carlsen was outside the top spot?

Carlsen in 2011, still the most recent year he wasn't the FIDE #1 for all 12 months. Photo: Stefan64/Wikimedia, CC.

Adele's 21 was the number-one album in the U.S. for the week of June 25-July 1. Remember that Adele's albums are named for her age when production began (not upon release). She is now 34.

The last Harry Potter movie hadn't come out yet. Deathly Hallows Part 2 would finally be released on July 7. Daniel Radcliffe turned 22 about two weeks later and is now 33.

Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls was the reigning Most Valuable Player in the NBA, as announced back on May 3. Rose, also 22 then and now 34, has since played for five teams (including the Bulls) and required four knee surgeries.

Rose happens to be a chess player as well. (Link contains some language.) Rose photo: Keith Allison/Wikimedia, CC.

Windows XP was still supported by Microsoft, as it would be until 2014. Apple's iPhone 4 was out, but not the 4S.

The planet Neptune had yet to complete an orbit since it was discovered in 1846—It's got a long way to go out there! The orbit was finally completed on July 12.

Round two will finish in 2176, by which point we plan to have bought the planet. Neptune photo: NASA.

Sudan was still one country, the largest in Africa. South Sudan seceded on July 9 and joined the United Nations on July 14, rendering Sudan the third-largest country in Africa.

And, finally, the U.S. Space Shuttle program was still active. It only ended on July 21 once Atlantis landed from its final voyage to space.

Entertainment, World Champions, and You

Whether you like movies, music, television, sports, or some combination of the four, there's something for you in this section.

GM Anatoly Karpov became world champion the same year that Jaws was released, while his bitter rival GM Garry Kasparov took his title when Back To The Future came out. GM Vladimir Kramnik became champion the same year as Gladiator and Cast Away (I could have sworn Cast Away was closer to 2005). And do you like Pixar films? Anand became champion the year Ratatouille came out while Magnus's reign began in the year of Frozen.

When this game hits 88 moves, you're going to see some serious... stuff. Kasparov photo: Rob Bogaerts/Dutch National Archives, CC.

And Carlsen's reign is younger than several famous (although, in some of these cases, not exactly good) pop songs you might not expect, including "Friday," "Call Me Maybe," "Rolling in the Deep," "Thrift Shop," and "Wrecking Ball."

Karpov, who gained back the title of FIDE World Champion in the split in 1993, still held that position by the time Seinfeld ended on May 14, 1998. The world championship would remain split until 2006, meaning this 13-year period of chess history overlapped the entire original run of Friends, which debuted in 1994 and concluded in 2004.

What's the deal with two world championships? Photo: Stefan64/Wikimedia, CC.

Kasparov had retired by 2006, announcing the end of his professional chess career on March 10, 2005. It was only two weeks after this that the U.S. version of The Office began on March 24. 

Finally, we go to sports, where Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi made their FIFA World Cup debuts in the summer of 2006 when—you guessed it—the chess world championship was still split. Meanwhile, the last time a non-European country won the World Cup was Brazil on June 30, 2002, almost a full year before Firouzja was born on June 18, 2003. As for the other football? Well, Tom Brady was drafted when Kasparov was still world champion, on April 16, 2000. Kasparov finally lost his title on November 4 of that year. 

Happy Birthday

Several star chess players reached a round-numbered age in 2022, and many more will in 2023.

In 2022, GM Andrey Esipenko turned 20, GMs Fabiano Caruana and Ding Liren turned 30, GMs Levon Aronian and Francisco Vallejo turned 40, and GMs Alexei Shirov and Loek Van Wely turned 50.

Ding Liren Fabiano Caruana
Caruana turned the big 3-0 in July and Ding in October. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Next year? Well, Kasparov turns 60 years old. GMs Joel Lautier and Peter Heine Nielsen turn 50 while GMs Alexander Grischuk, Leinier Dominguez, and former youngest-GM-in-the-world Etienne Bacrot turn 40. GM Wesley So turns 30 while Firouzja, GM Arjun Erigaisi, and GM Hans Niemann turn 20.

Vishy's Teammates

If there's one person who doesn't seem to age, it's Anand. He recently played at the European Club Cup where three of his 2700-rated teammates—GMs Richard Rapport, Bogdan-Daniel Deac, and Gukesh D—were born after Anand's first world championship match back in 1995. Anand played first board as the highest-rated of all of them, scoring +1.

Garry Kasparov Viswanthan Anand
Anand would lose that 1995 match before later winning two world championship tournaments and three matches. Rapport was born about six months after this photo was taken and would later be teammates with Anand. Photo: Owen Williams/Kasparov Agency, CC.

Anand also defeated Erigaisi in the event. In the time between their births (Anand on December 11, 1969, and Erigaisi on September 3, 2003), there were no fewer than five undisputed world champs—GM Boris Spassky, GM Bobby Fischer, Karpov, Kasparov, and Kramnik—and 10 prime ministers of India: Indira Gandhi (twice), Desai, Charan Singh, Rajiv Gandhi, V. P. Singh, Shekhar, Rao, Vajpayee (twice), Gowda, and Gujral.

Other Assorted Facts

The recently concluded Global Championship had one early match, in particular, that is just a total time warp: GM Raunak Sadhwani, who was born in 2005, played and defeated GM Veselin Topalov, who was busy in 2005 becoming the FIDE world champion.

Topalov Sadhwani
The chin-in-hand pose, however, knows no age boundaries.

What do you think happened first: the development of the world's strongest chess engine or the U.S. electing its first Black president? Well, it's a virtual tie, but Stockfish 1.0 was released on November 2, 2008, two days before Barack Obama was elected president on November 4. Three months later, on February 5, 2009, Mishra became the first future grandmaster born during the Obama administration.


Well, I hope you feel as old as I do. Or older, if you are indeed older than I am (which is a number you'll have to guess).

Do you have any other amazing chess facts that take years from your life just thinking about them? Absolutely share them in the comments!

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