Mieses (1865-1954) was 85 years old when FIDE first awarded the grandmaster title,
Mieses was one of the 27 original recipients: Jacques Mieses - Information, Pictures and Games (in german). He played in classical chess tournaments of note between 1888 (Berlin, Nuremberg, Leipzig, Augustea Jubilee Tournament, followed in 1889 by Breslau, DSB Congress) and 1945/46 Hastings Congress, winning the Brilliancy Prize at age of 81 for his win over Martin Christoffel, then the reigning Swiss National Champion, http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1155597 and even at age of 88, Mieses took part in the Blitz City Championship
Viktor Korchnoi (1931-2016), National
Champion (Switzerland 2011) at age of 80 years, and beating Fabiano Caruana, then best Junior of the world and
already an established ELO 2700+ player at Gibraltar Open in 2011: http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1604728,
Korchnoi took the supertournament of Biel in 2001 outright ahead of the tournament title defender Svidler as clear second, Gelfand as clear third, Grischuk, Lautier, Pelletier (double
round robin) at age of 70 years and 4 months; followed by further international tournament wins. His career shows a unique 64 years winning span in competitive closed chess tournaments from USSR Junior
Championship 1947 in Leningrad to Suzdal (Botvinnik Veterans Mem) Rapid 2011.
Viktor Korchnoi beating the Engine kids:
winning with about 40 plus year-odds vs. elite players as Gelfand, Ivanchuk, Shirov, Svidler, Adams, Topalov, Leko, and Judit Polgar,
winning with about 50 plus year-odds vs. elite
players as Vallejo Pons (born 1982), Ponomariov (born 1983), Bacrot (born 1983), Grischuk (born 1983), Gashimov (born 1986, R.I.P. 2014), Carlsen (born 1990), and Caruana (born 1992).
Samuel Reshevsky (1911-1992) tied for first
at the prestigious Reykjavik Open in 1984, as shared winner at the age of 72 and a half with (then IM) Johann Hjartarson, first on tie-break, and (then IM) Helgi Olafsson; Reshevsky and Balashov as the only two players undefeated
in a field of amongst others Geller, Chandler, Christiansen, De Firmian, R. Byrne, Alburt, Lobron, Gutman, Ree, Daniel King, or Fridrik Olafsson. Sammy Reshevsky continued to play until before the end of his life. He has recorded games from nine different decades. On Chessgames are shown 74 years of games from him (http://www.chessgames.com/player/samuel_reshevsky.html).
Reshevsky is the only Oldtimer also to be a child prodigy!
At the age of 72 and a half, Joseph Blackburne (1841-1924) won a Special Brilliancy Prize* for his win over Aron Nimzowitsch at
the great St. Petersburg in 1914 tournament:
but failed to qualify for the final stage of the best five players (Lasker won, ahaed of Capablanca who won the preliminaries, Alekehine, Tarrasch, and Marshall. That same year, Blackburne tied for first place in
the British chess championship with Frederick Yates, but ill health prevented him from contesting the play-off for the title. This was Blackburne's last major tournament. However, in 1921 Blackburne was still giving simultaneous exhibitions. *Tarrasch won the main Brilliancy Prize for his win over Nimzo, involving a double
bishop sacrifice https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Petersburg_1914_chess_tournament,
At the age of 72, Ossip Bernstein (1882-1962) won the
Brilliancy Prize for his win over Miguel Najdorf at the UNESCO Montevideo tournament in 1954 (18 participants):
tied for 2nd-3rd with Miguel Najdorf, behind René Letelier. Nadjorf protested that it was unfair to play such an aged opponent, and then became so confident of eventual victory before this last round game that he convinced the organizers to double the
First Prize money at the expense of reducing the payouts for the lesser prizes, a gamble which backfired in spectacular fashion as the septuagenarian Bernstein routed him in a 37-move Old
Indian Defense that won Bernstein the Brilliancy Prize.
The same year, Bernstein played at first board for France at the
Chess Olympiad in Amsterdam 1954 (+5 −5 =5), he was also a member of the French team at the next Olympiad in Moscow 1956, but he did not play because of illness.
Miguel Najdorf (1910-1997) tied for second place in a supertournament at age of 69, the Clarin International
at Buenos Aires in 1979. Larsen who won as clear first, and Najdorf as the only two undefeated players in a field including former world champions Petrosian
and Spassky as well as Miles, Andersson or fellow countryman Oscar Panno. Najdorf's last national championship entry was in 1991 at age 81, even later, he still participate
in the traditional Mar del Plata Open with good results. He also remained active in chess play and commentary to the end of his life.
Emanuel Lasker (1868-1941) returned to elite chess in his mid-sixties, finishing fifth in Zürich
1934 and third in Moscow 1935 (undefeated, ½ point behind Mikhail Botvinnik and Salo Flohr; ahead of Capablanca, Spielmann and several strong Soviet masters), sixth in Moscow 1936 and seventh equal in Nottingham 1936, his last international
tournament at age of 68. Lasker's ongoing strength on top level was hailed by Reuben Fine as "a biological miracle".
Mark Taimanov (1926-2016), the famous pianist and chess grandmaster has recorded games from nine different decades. On Chessgames is shown a span of 73 years of games from him (http://www.chessgames.com/player/mark_taimanov.html). Taimanov played his last public games in Switzerland in November 2015 (Rapid match versus Korchnoi, fabulous 65 years after they first met otb in 1950) at age of 90 years minus
Arnold Denker (1914-2005), the "Dean of American chess", renowned chronicler, and organizer, has recorded
games from nine different decades, too (1929-2001).
Ratmir Kholmov (1925-2006) played regular competitive
chess on high level virtually right up until his death, i.e. in 2005 at age of 80 he participated at Pardubice A-Open, and Aeroflot B-Open in Moscow, he played also at Olomouc and Dnipropetrovsk (now officially named Dnipro). Kholmov achieved in some
pretty strong events still results above 50%.
Alexander Cherepkov (1920-2009) kept his strength and improved gradually as he got older. He won the first of his three
Leningrad Championships in 1967 at age 47, and repeated the next year following a playoff. After some appearances in minor events and team championships, with mixed results, Cherepkov won his third Leningrad title in 1982 after a playoff. Maybe
the best result of his career, was winning the international invitation Leningrad White Knights tournament 1984 with 8/13, ahead of several Grandmasters. This was a remarkable achievement at age 64. He earned the IM title by FIDE. Another superb
showing at age 70 came in the 1990 Leningrad International, where he finished clear 2nd with 9.5/13, behind Konstantin Sakaev. Source: Wikipedia.
http://www.bs-chess.com/latin/lectures/cherep3.html?PHPSESSID=d21c1a594 (interview, part II)
Géza Maróczy, Andor Lilienthal, Edward Lasker, Enrico Paoli, Arthur
Dake, David Bronstein, László Szabó, Svetozar
Gligoric, Wolfgang Unzicker, Borislav Ivkov (*1933), Fridrik Olafsson (*1935), Wolfgang Uhlmann (*1935), or Boris Spassky
(*1937) have long chess careers, too (often semi-retired for years, still occasionally playing in tournaments or team events until nature forces to stop). Earlier
oldtimers include Baron Tassilo Heydebrand und der Lasa and Henry Bird.
This survey is subjective. Veteran events, friendly matches, rapid, blitz or exhibitions or late entries in team events are not of same status and strength as an international closed or open tournament in classical chess, thus generally not
According to Chessmetrics (all data per 2005), Viktor Korchnoi, Vassili Smyslov, Miguel Najdorf, Samuel Reshevsky, plus Ratmir Kholmov, Svetozar Gligoric (he
suffered somehow a striking decline in his personal mid-50s and 60s, then remarkably consolidating in his 70s), surprising IM Alexander Cherepkov in common with the late successes of the great Joseph Blackburne and Ossip Bernstein could be considered
as the world's strongest septuagenarian players in chess.
The only octogenarian chess player frequently and fully competitive active
on high level in the international circuit was Viktor Korchnoi.
At age of 80 in 2011, Viktor Korchnoi, performed a sensational year: National Champion once again and more than fifty years since his first
national USSR title, winning the closed Botvinnik Memorial Veterans, Rapid at Suzdal, beating Caruana in a fascinating Ruy Lopez with black at the prestigious Gibraltar Open, playing at the European Team Chess Championship for Switzerland on board no.
2, and achieving the individual best score in the Swiss Team Championship together with Alexey Dreev (both at 6.5/8).
The following year, Viktor Korchnoi won as individual best an international
team event at Geneva, already forced to sit in a wheelchair. In September 2012, Korchnoi suffered a severe stroke, but continued after a rehabilitation phase to play competitive chess, in rapid matches, twice
versus Wolfgang Uhlmann at Leipzig in 2014 and at Zurich in 2015, and with his longtime friend from Saint Petersburg, Mark Taimanov at Lucerne in November 2015.
On a slightly
lesser level: Zoltan Sarosy, born in Budapest, Hungary (1906 - 2017) had been playing for more than a century! 🙂