Welcome to 30, Magnus Carlsen

      World champion Carlsen turned 30 two days ago, Nov. 30. Grandmaster So spoiled the party by beating Carlsen in a blitz playoff to win the Skilling Open, the first stop on the $1.5 million Champions Chess Tour.

      I was most surprised. It’s well documented that athletes outdo their usual numbers on their birthdays, and for turning 30, I thought Carlsen would be invincible for a year or two.

      Chessplayers peak at 30. Kasparov’s peak rating 2886 was achieved one month before he turned 30 in 1993.

      Fischer hit 2887 at age 28, and Bobby was so dominant at the end of 1971 that he lost 100 rating points while beating Petrosian in the candidates final and Spassky in the world championship match. Who knows how good he would’ve been if he’d continued to care long enough to face Karpov in 1975.

      Karpov reached a high of 2831 when he was 30, but surpassed that with 2848 at age 37, and made his best tournament performance was at Linares 1994 at 43. Karpov was special M dude was #1 or #2 in the world from the time he was 22 until he was 45.

      The chessmetrics site figures Capablanca reached 2877 at age 32 in 1921, and had his best tournament M New York 1918 M at age 29. According to Capablanca, he played his best chess against Kostic in 1919, at 30.

      Even I peaked at 30. My USCF ratings were their highest a few months before my 30th birthday, but I’m amused these days at how poorly I played.

      Welcome to 30, Magnus. It’s all downhill from here, dude.

      This is a game Carlsen played on his 15th birthday. He’d been a grandmaster for almost two years.


Source image for thumbnails.