One of the rare news items to catch my attention lately was that of Vladimir Kramnik’s intention to retire at 40. And from the point of view of ‘chess as sport’ then his reasons seem logical: “Chess is getting younger. Generations are changing rapidly. Many 17-year-olds become top players now. I want to try something different from chess.”

Garry Kasparov, who retired some time ago, would probably agree with these sentiments, but would Viktor Korchnoi? And there appears to be an implicit dissatisfaction with chess as an intellectual medium in his reference to ’17-year-olds’. I can empathize with this on many levels but it illustrates a huge problem with the concept of ‘chess as sport’.

If instead of this chess is viewed as a means of personal development, with known effects against conditions such as Alzheimer’s, why should anyone want to stop playing? If anything we should redouble our efforts as we get older.

Anyway, I hope that Kramnik will change his mind about this, and Kasparov too. And as for losing to teenagers one simply has to get over it.