The world's strongest nonagenarian

by ChessBase
11/7/2003 – Who is the strongest active player in chess in the world today aged ninety or older? We think it is Arkadi Gilman, who sports an official FIDE rating 2237. Gilman hails from Russia and lives in Canada. He is fit enough to compete regularly in local tournaments, including tough double round robins. Take a look at how he outwits his opponents.

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


Arkadi Gilman

Originally from Russia, Gilman now lives in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and competes regularly in local tournaments. In July he ttok part in the Le Bolduc II double round robin tournament, scoring 5½ out of 10 and coming in third.

Arkadi Gilman and his wife. (Photo Benoit St.-Pierre)

81 years age difference! Ilchin Rozybakiev, 9, vs Arkadi Gilman, 90. (Photos by Benoit St-Pierre)

Arkadi Gilman against Zhe Quan (USA) during the 2003 CMA Futurity Tournament. The game ended in a draw. (Photo Yves Casaubon)

Here's a list of the strongest active chess players over 90 in the world today

1 Gilman, Arkadiy M. RUS 2237 13.03.1913
2 Rivera, Jose CHI 2170 07.09.1907
3 Abzhirko, Nikolay RUS 2112 04.02.1912
4 Foglar, Stanislav CZE 2011 11.04.1913
5 Bojdol, Joanna POL 2001 11.05.1911

These are the strongest nonagenarians in the FIDE list (sorted by age)

No. Name Nat. Elo Born
1 Gardner, Joe B. USA 2257 13.01.1900
2 Gresser, Gisela Kahn (WIM) USA 2090 08.02.1906
3 Saltzberg, Mitchell USA 2215 30.06.1907
4 Rivera, Jose CHI 2170 07.09.1907
5 Palme, Rudolf AUT 2220 06.03.1910
6 Benko, Francisco ARG 2147 24.06.1910
7 Dake, Arthur William (GM) USA 2330 08.04.1910
8 Lilienthal, Andor (GM) HUN 2385 05.05.1911
9 Bojdol, Joanna POL 2001 11.05.1911
10 Abzhirko, Nikolay RUS 2112 04.02.1912
11 Trias Fernandes, Ramon ESP 2091 24.06.1912
12 Baslavsky, Ilia RUS 2110 10.10.1912
13 Secula, Victor GER 2102 04.11.1912
14 Gilman, Arkadiy M. RUS 2237 13.03.1913
15 Foglar, Stanislav CZE 2011 11.04.1913
16 Jonas, Oldrich CZE 2004 24.08.1913
17 Ader, Walter CHI 2270 07.11.1913

Notes: Joe Gardner would appear to be 103 years old. Joe Rivera actually took part in a FIDE tournament in 2003 at the age of 96. Joanna Bojdol of Poland, the only women in this field, did the same at 92 years. And of course there's the incredible 92-year-old Andor Lilienthal, who is no longer active, but believe it or not has chalked up wins against the likes of Marshall, Tartakower, Lasker, Capablanca and Alakhine. You don't believe us? Check out the second half of this report.

Gilman games

This year Gilman has played in the Avenir III, Le COQ 2003 and Le Bolduc II tournaments. Here is the final standing of BOLDUC II Section A:

Grondin,J - Gilman,A [D15]
Le Bolduc II - A Montreal CAN (1), 22.09.2003
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 a6 5.e3 b5 6.b3 Bg4 7.Be2 Bxf3 8.gxf3 e6 9.Rg1 Bb4 10.Bb2 0-0 11.Qc2 bxc4 12.bxc4 Nbd7 13.Kf1 Nh5 14.f4 Qh4 15.Rg5

Watch the 90-yea-old fox go after the white rook: 15...Ndf6 16.Bf3 Bd6 17.Ne2 Qh3+ 18.Bg2 Qxh2 19.Bc1? (19.Ng1 was better) 19...h6 20.Ng1 hxg5 21.Nf3 Ng3+ 22.fxg3 Qxg3 23.Nxg5 g6 24.Bd2 Ng4 0-1.

Gilman,A - Grondin,J [D02]
Le Bolduc II - A Montreal CAN (6), 08.10.2003
1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bf4 Nf6 4.e3 a6 5.c4 g6 6.Nc3 Bg7 7.Rc1 e6 8.Be2 0-0 9.0-0 h6 10.cxd5 exd5 11.Ne5 Ne7 12.Na4 Nf5 13.h3 Re8 14.Qc2 c6 15.Qb3 Ne4 16.Qb6 Qe7 17.a3 Nh4 18.Qb4 Qd8 19.Nd3 Bf8 20.Qb6 Qf6 21.Qc7 Re7

Where would you move your queen as white? Arkadi Gilman went for 22.Qd8 b5? The secret of chess: maximise the opportunities for your opponent to make mistakes! 23.Nb6! 1-0.

Information provided by Neil Sullivan and Yves Casaubon

Post scriptum

A few hours after this article went online Adolivio Capece, editor of the Italien chess magazine L'Italia Scacchistica, wrote us: " I am really surprised that in the list there is not GM Enrico Paoli, born on January 13, 1908 (in two months he will be 96!!). He is still playing at Master level chess. In 2003 he played the internationale tournaments in Saint-Vincent and in Bratto. He will play in Milano in December and will receive a special prize by the ECU that will be awarded next February in Saint-Vincent. He lives in Reggio Emilia and is the main organizator of the famous international tournament there. Probably he is the oldest player at Master level in the world.

Reports about chess: tournaments, championships, portraits, interviews, World Championships, product launches and more.


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register