Inspirational Adult Improvers

Chessmo

My chess goal is to achieve my Expert title by the age of 50. I know there are many other players like me, people who started playing serious chess as adults, who lack the talent or time needed to quickly achieve a title, but who have the gumption and dedication to continue working toward this lofty goal.

I would like to put together a list of exceptional adult improvers that I (and others) can reference for inspiration. So far, I've only come up with a few examples (three players who made expert or master in their 30's through 50's).

Do you know a player from your club, a friend, someone online, or even someone you read about in an article who might fit this profile?

I would like the list to focus on:

- Players who were at least 21 when they played their 1st rated game or players who were less than 1500 USCF/FIDE by their 21st birthday

- Players who then went on to achieve a 2000+ rating.

Please message me or post in this thread with any leads you can send me.

Thanks!

FreeCat

Very interesting thread. I'm 39 and started playing chess irregularly 4 years ago (although I learnt how pieces move as a kid), here at Chess.com. 1 year ago I joined a chess club and now I'm taking it more seriously, and I have no long-term goals, just improving as much as possible. Unfortunately, I know no one fitting your description. It would take having a lot of free time, which is a difficult thing to have at these ages.

myk99

I am also a late starter that is striving to play better. I played my first rated tournament in September of 2009, putting me at 29 years old, and got a rating of 1445.  I had been introduced to chess in my high school years but I had no clue there were tournaments or masters or even books on the subject. I got really interested when I kept getting beat by another local player. I was roughly 26 or 27. Ever sense then I have been hooked on the game. Im 32 now and have just crossed the 1800 mark. I REFUSE to say that I cannot make expert or master because I didn’t start training with a coach before my 5th birthday. Will it be more difficult? YES. Will it take more time? YES. BUT IT CAN BE DONE! We just have to take the time to do it.  I had remembered an article that was on uscf’s website about a guy that did this and I eventually met him at a tournament in Louisville. Here is a link to his article.

http://www.uschess.org/content/view/11391/640/

waffllemaster
Larceny wrote:

My chess goal is to achieve my Expert title by the age of 50. I know there are many other players like me, people who started playing serious chess as adults, who lack the talent or time needed to quickly achieve a title, but who have the gumption and dedication to continue working toward this lofty goal.

I would like to put together a list of exceptional adult improvers that I (and others) can reference for inspiration. So far, I've only come up with a few examples (three players who made expert or master in their 30's through 50's).

Do you know a player from your club, a friend, someone online, or even someone you read about in an article who might fit this profile?

I would like the list to focus on:

- Players over 21 when they played their 1st rated game or players who were less than 1500 USCF/FIDE by their 21st birthday

- Players who then went on to achieve a 2000+ rating.

Please message me or post in this thread with any leads you can send me.

Thanks!

I was 21 (so not over 21) when I played my first USCF rated game.  So of course I was under 1500 strength.

I don't have a 2000 rating.  For what it's worth I definitely see it as possible for myself.  If I make it and this topic is still around I'll let you know though :)

IIRC chess.com member FirebrandX says in his profile he started in his mid 20s.  I don't know what his OTB rating is though (possibly over 2000)

Lawdoginator

I think Bill Wall may have made a list of old players achieving GM, IM, and NM titles. 

waffllemaster
Lawdoginator wrote:

I think Bill Wall may have made a list of old players achieving GM, IM, and NM titles. 

The OPs constraints would rule all all the popular names though.  If he finds one that meets his criteria and later became a titled player I'd be very interested in knowing though.

Chessmo

Thanks for the notes. The link to the Ben Gradsky article was very helpful. Those are the types of players that I would like to start cataloging. It says he learned the game at twenty and his first non-provisional rating was 1402. My guess is he played a lot of internet and/or club games before his first tournaments in order to start with a rating that high. (Or he has some above average natural "talent.")

Most well known older adults who achieve titles do seem to have a substantial track record of chess achievement while they were kids or teens. It is still impressive to go from, say master to IM or GM in your 30's or 40's. I would love to find out about some that didn't start as kids/teens!

For my purposes, what I want is a list of similar to me. :-) Specially, people who didn't have the benefit of having their young neuro connections wired favorably for chess via early training. I suspect it is an apples to oranges comparison to look at adults who achieve later in life but who were strong junior players versus people who didn't even learn the game until they were adults.

There are quite a few people in my situation who have an audacious chess goal and are just starting out later in life. (I played in my first tournament at 25 years old.) NM BIll Richardson loves telling people that with hard work and the right training, anyone with above average intelligence can become a Master. I don't know if that is true but I would like to substantiate that at least a few people have done it.

Many of us have read that it takes 10,000 hours of intentional practice in a field to master it. If that is anywhere in the ballpark, that would mean it should take at least 20 hours a week of dedicated study/playing for about 12 years to master chess. That is probably close. I imagine most teens who achieve Master started playing as 6-8 year olds and probably dedicated a lot more than 20 hours a week. But, how about adults? Do these numbers mean anything for adult learners? I hope the answer is yes and that I will be able to find and catalog dozens of examples. 

NOTE: I clarified my requirements to "at least 21" instead of "over 21." (Thanks for pointing that out.) My basic assumption is that people under 21 who play substantial competitive chess have brains that are still forming and building beneficial neuro connections and that they should be in a different category than adult learners.)

Chessmo
waffllemaster wrote:
I don't have a 2000 rating.  For what it's worth I definitely see it as possible for myself.  If I make it and this topic is still around I'll let you know though :)

You look like you are very close if your bullet rating here is anywhere near your OTB rating!

TitanCG

This guy.

OldChessDog

Check out my blog! I may be crazy, but I'm working toward an ultimate goal of earning a National Master's title! (But I'll consider getting to class A player a success) ;-)

http://www.chess.com/blog/OldChessDog

billwall

I will look into it. I don't know of anyone over 21 that was 1500 or less and made it to 2000 or higher later in life.  I don't know of any master who started late in life and made it up to 2200, but there may be a few.  So far, 100% of all the masters I know all started playing chess before 21 and made it to the master level early in their career.  some master became masters at a later age, but they all started playing chess before 21.

Here is my article on older chess players.

http://www.chess.com/article/view/older-chess-players

Oscar Shapiro (1924-2004) became a master for the first time in his life at the age of 74, but he had been playing since he was a kid.

I was 1522 at the age of 18 (my first tourney) in 1969.  I was 1597 in 1975 at the age of 24.  In 1976 I was 1614.  In 1977 I was 1659.  In 1978, I was 1725.  In 1980 I was 1694.  In 1981, I was 1727.  In 1983, I was 1780.  In 1985, I was 1817.  In 1986, I was 1850.  In 1987, I was 2050, at the age if 36.  In 1989, I was 2070.  In 1990, I peaked at 2205 at age 39.  Then back down to 2100, and rating floor stuck at 2000 throughout the 1990s.  I've been trying to get back up to expert level again, but it has been tough at the age of 62.

waffllemaster

Wow, this gives me motivation to study and get better again if 2000 really is such a rarity for someone like me who was 1300 strength at age 21.

I have to think there are people out there, they just might be hard to find.

It's also a bit discouraging.  21 doesn't seem old in the least... not that I ever dreamed of GM but come on, not even 2200?  :(

Chessmo
billwall wrote:

I was 1522 at the age of 18 (my first tourney) in 1969.  I was 1597 in 1975 at the age of 24.  

Hi Bill,

Thanks for posting and for the link to your previous research. It was mentioned earlier in the thread and I was hoping to get that link.

Given your history above, you are one of the few people so far who I have heard of who first played the game competitively as an adult and then went on to earn Expert or Master titles. In your case it was 18--but that is still an adult.

Did you play a lot before your first tourney? Having an intial rating of 1500 to me seems very impressive. Did you play a lot with friends or at a club or with your father?

Chessmo
LewisSkolnick wrote:

Duchamp, perhaps?

Duchamp is a possibility. Anyone know if he had an official chess rating?

Ziryab

I played my first rated event at the age of 35. I'm now a couple years past 50, but am closing on on 2000. I hit 1982 last summer, and am currently at 1954. I passed 1900 for the first time in February 2012.

Some of my progress is documented at http://chessskill.blogspot.com/

billwall

Larceny,

I did not know the rules of chess or chess notation until June, 1969 after high school.  That month, I joined the Tacoma (Washington) Chess Club and bought my first 2 chess books - Practical Chess Openings by Fine (used bookstore) and The 1000 Best Short Games of Chess by Chernev.  I studied just those two books during the summer and started collecting chess miniatures from library books and magazines (I went on to write over 30 books on chess miniatures - the 500 [chess opening] Miniature series).  I was invited to play in the American Open in Santa Monica by Isaac Kashdan in Nov 1969.  My provisonal rating was 1522 after that event.  I believe that studying traps and minatures helps with pattern recognition.  I was the main teacher and coach of Jordy Mont-Reynaud, and he became America's youngest master at 10.  I also helped Vinay Bhat and Alan Stein when they were kids, and look at them now - a GM and IM.  But I can't reproduce the results with adults. 

billwall

Duchamp had been playing chess since he was 11.  No official rating in those days.  In the first USCF rating list in 1950, Duchamp was rated 1917.  In 1951, he was rated 2005 at the age of 63.  He was considered a chess master in France in his younger days

Here are my articles on Duchamp.

http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Lab/7378/duchamp.htm

http://www.chess.com/article/view/marcel-duchamp-and-chess

Chessmo
Ziryab wrote:

I played my first rated event at the age of 35. I'm now a couple years past 50, but am closing on on 2000. I hit 1982 last summer, and am currently at 1954. I passed 1900 for the first time in February 2012.

 

Some of my progress is documented at http://chessskill.blogspot.com/

Hi Ziryab,

Thanks for posting! Very interesting and you are exactly the type of adult improver I am hoping to catalog--especially once you break that 2000+ barrier!

15 years for an adult to make Expert seems reasonable--I assume that you are a working adult with a family? Could you tell me what your initial rating was? What type of chess experience did you have before entering your first tournament?

Cheers,

Ziryab
Larceny wrote:
Ziryab wrote:

I played my first rated event at the age of 35. I'm now a couple years past 50, but am closing on on 2000. I hit 1982 last summer, and am currently at 1954. I passed 1900 for the first time in February 2012.

 

Some of my progress is documented at http://chessskill.blogspot.com/

Hi Ziryab,

Thanks for posting! Very interesting and you are exactly the type of adult improver I am hoping to catalog--especially once you break that 2000+ barrier!

15 years for an adult to make Expert seems reasonable--I assume that you are a working adult with a family? Could you tell me what your initial rating was? What type of chess experience did you have before entering your first tournament?

Cheers,

I learned chess at eight, but knew nothing and played horrible until I discovered chess books at fifteen (see http://chessskill.blogspot.com/2012/03/my-first-chess-book.html). I played team events in high school, was active in my school's club for three years (number 3 as a sophomore, 2 as a junior, and 1 by quite a distance as a senior). I started going to the local adult chess club as a junior, and joined the USCF, playing one correspondence event (I did not finish my games). In college, I became an infrequent player because I did not know anyone at my skill level.

I returned to chess in my late 20s in graduate school when I bought my first computer, and bought Chessmaster 2100. I remained an infrequent player through the end of graduate school, but played in one school tournament (losing only to the winner).

After graduate school (mid-30s), I returned to my hometown and reconnected with the Spokane Chess Club. My first tournament gave me a provisional rating of 1250 (in 1995). My initial non-provsional rating was 1425. I dropped below 1400 when I went 0-5 in one event, and it took me four events over six months to get back over 1400. I was a C Class player for nine years.

I started coaching youth chess in 2000 as a parent volunteer, and started doing it as a paid coach three years later. In the late 1990s, I played more USCF correspondence, then played email chess. In 2003, I started playing online correspondence (turn-based, or "Online Chess" as chess.com calls it). In 2006, I hit B Class. In 2009, I hit A Class. I went over 1900 in 2012.

In my city, currently, there is one Expert (an exchange student from China in high school, back in China for the summer). There are six others in the 1900-1970 range. One is a few points above me; one is at the same rating.

We had two Experts a year ago, but both moved a few hours away.

In one month, I will be playing a four game match for the title City Champion against one of the others near my rating.

To get over 2000, I need to either 1) win every game, or 2) travel to Seattle or Portland for tournaments. 

TortoiseMaximus

Becoming a chess master after discovering the game in your 20s would be no less unusual than someone picking up a basketball at 21 and saying "what is this bouncy thingy?" and then shortly going on to getting a Division I college basketball scholarship.