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Is one ever too old to start playing?

Am I too old to play chess?

A peculiarly interesting question.

First of all, as long as an individual is capable of learning, retaining, and applying new information, he/she may learn to play chess regardless of his/her age. From learning the rules of chess to learning the special moves like en passant, anyone can learn how to play chess.

Unlike other specific types of learning, such as learning to see, speak, or learning a language for the first time as a toddler, (studies have shown that there is a window of time necessary for the development of certain skills,) chess can be learned at any age.

Interestingly enough the very method of studying chess will reshape your brain and make you smarter. In Norman Doidge’s book, “The Brain That Changes Itself,” Doidge creates an experiment mapping the brains of blind people learning to read Braille. After 10 months of practice, scans showed that the neural pathways of the brain had been created, minimized, and changed when the participants read braille. This demonstrated the significance of an individual’s ability to change his/her brain by performing and engaging the mind in certain activities. Chess will train your brain.

Now the question is, what is your chess potential?

Is it worthwhile to learn how to play a game believing you could never be good, great, or even a master of it?

Is chess similar to a sport like gymnastics or basketball where only those who began training at an early age could have ever become a professional, or even a world champion? As far as we know, in the past 200 years there hasn’t been one world chess champion who hadn’t begun practicing before the age of 11.

Nevertheless, there exists those who have become chess masters even once they had began playing after the age of 17, such as Jonathan Hawkins.

And so finally, what is the best way to learn how to play chess?

It is our belief at Chess Education that anyone can become a master of chess with the proper training, desire, and education. If you’re ready to learn how to play chess for the first time, the best book at your disposal is our Chess Education Novice Booklet.

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