By John Considine
A couple of months ago the Financial Times did a special report on the state of chess (here). The front page headline referred to the growth of chess. A story, inside the FT supplement, claimed that chess attracts seven times more regular players than golf worldwide. Elsewhere, Adam Thomson makes the point that getting to professional level is easier nowadays. He may have a point but looking at the number of new Grandmasters, one might wonder if the sport has moved past its peak at the upper levels. The years between 2007 and 2009 saw the largest numbers being awarded the title.
If we take a slightly longer view it is possible to see the growth of Grandmaster numbers towards the end of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first century. The picture below shows the awards of Grandmaster title in 1974, 1984, 1994, 2004 and 2014. It also shows the age (defined as the gap between the person's birth year and the year of the award) of the person achieving the title of Grandmaster. It seems to confirm the FT view that technology has facilitated younger achievement in chess.
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