An interesting phenomina that has appeared in the last couple of decades is the rise of young tacticians. Looking at the games of the World’s top rated players my overwhelming impression is that of brilliant tactical vision. And as this was not particularly the case a quarter of a century ago I wonder about what has changed.
My hypothesis is that computerisation of chess study and changes to tournament schedules have led to this, computer based preparation having partially superseded traditional skills (such as opening and early middle game understanding) whilst longer schedules are very tiring for older players. At one time we used to adjourn after 4 or 5 hours and continue after dinner or on separate adjournment days. Now a single session decides, and this can be up to 7 hours in duration. When you factor in the modern hostility towards short draws (this used to provide older players with a welcome break) then you have punishing schedules which favour the younger players.
Having said that we have a couple of ‘oldies’ playing for the World Championship next year, Vishwanathan Anand and Boris Gelfand. And this has to give hope to us all, even if we are older still!