Chess Yields to the Young
World-chess championships’ rigorous schedule favors younger competitors
By CHRISTOPHER CHABRIS
Dec. 12, 2014 2:23 p.m. ET
The ancient game of chess, long associated with old men sitting on park benches, is increasingly a sport for the young.
The latest exemplar of this trend is 24-year-old Magnus Carlsen of Norway, who defended his title as world chess champion in a match in Sochi, Russia last month. He defeated 45-year-old Viswanathan Anand of India, the former champion whom he had dispatched a year ago to win the crown.
In elite chess, Mr. Anand is an anachronism of sorts. After losing his title last year, he had to enter a 14-round tournament to win the right to a rematch. Most chess pundits predicted that he wouldn’t even try; when he tried, none predicted that he would win. He nevertheless cruised by the younger field, though he ultimately lost to Mr. Carlsen by 6-4.
For over 50 years, every new world champion has been younger than the champion he dethroned—with the sole exception of Mr. Anand, who was five years older than the Russian player Vladimir Kramnik when he took the title from him in 2007. No other challenger has beaten a younger champion.
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