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Chess tournaments for Senior players: simple introduction

For more detailed information about chess for over-50s, please see our Seniors calendar and our Seniors news pages which are updated regularly.

 

This is our Seniors introductory page, chiefly intended for readers who are new to chess competition for the over-50s.

Our Seniors pages have been praised as "a great resource" by Icelandic grandmaster Johann Hjartarson, in conversation with one of the Irish players at the 2023 World Team Championships (with permission to quote him).

Prior to 2014 most senior tournaments were for players aged 60 or over but FIDE then replaced that age limit with two age categories: 50+ and 65+.

If you were born in the year 1974 then you are eligible for 50+ tournaments played this year, and if you were born in 1959 you are eligible for this year's 65+ championships. Each January 1st the qualifying date changes by one year. For full details of qualifying dates, see further on.

FIDE organises four international championships for senior players annually - two World events (individual and team in various categories) and two European events which are under the auspices of the ECU.

Many countries now also organise national championships for seniors.

The World Senior Team Championships are now in progress in Krakow and we are reporting from there. The European team championships were played earlier.

The European individual senior championships will be played in northern Italy starting in late October. Two weeks after that ends, the World individual senior championships will be played on a Portuguese island in the Madeira archipelago but you still cannot book flights direct to it.

The venues and dates for many tournaments to be played in 2025 are now available also. See our news and calendar pages for more infomation and comment.

In general, please look regularly at our Seniors tournament calendar for up-to-date information about announced tournaments. In many cases you can download the official invitation documents from that page (PDF files in English, where available, or else in German). In some cases only the dates and venues are known as yet.

Also see our news page for regular updates on other events recent or upcoming. Those two pages are usually updated weekly or whenever there is important new information.

Germany is the country organising the most tournaments for older players. Most of these events are open to players from abroad, but always check the specific entry conditions as some do not follow the FIDE 50+/65+ pattern. A few senior tournaments (especially in Austria and Germany) are still run on the 60+ age group rule (sometimes 45+ and 55+ for women) or have idiosyncratic age rules as the listings in our calendar shows.

Our Austrian correspondent Michael Ernst has told us about a Swiss organisation for senior chess players (60+) that was founded back in 1966. You have to become member (40 Swiss Francs per year) and then you can play up to 10 senior tournaments per year in Switzerland, although some are unrated. We suspect most readers would find multiple stays in Switzerland too expensive so we are not including their events in our calendar. You can find details (in German and French) on their website.

All FIDE senior events (and most others) are organised in two age categories, based on your age at 31 December in the year concerned. Many national and independent organisers (at least outside Germany) follow the same eligibility rules but our calendar usually specifies variations on this.

For FIDE tournaments to be played this year (2024) the qualifying dates for the two FIDE age groups are 31 December 1974 (for the 50+ Open and Women's tournaments) and 31 December 1959 for the 65+ championships. For 2025, the applicable years will be 1975 and 1960.

In other words, if you are already 50 years old or reach your 50th birthday any timethis year you are eligible for 50+ events run on FIDE age rules without waiting for your actual birthday. If you are 65 or older, or reach the age of 65 any day in 2024 then you can enter 65+ events.

If you are more interested in a good holiday than the competitive aspect and FIDE rating points, you might consider such events as the ACO tournaments (held on Greek islands). Or if you have friends or family members too young to play senior events, then you might prefer one of the senior events held alongside open tournaments.

We are pleased to see that several tournaments now offer 75+ prizes for which the qualifying year is of course ten years earlier than for the 65+. In details of German tournamenst the term "Nestors" or "Nestoren" signifies 75+ players,

There was last year a tournament specifically for 75+ players in Germany at a town near Frankfurt/Main. Another will be held later this year in Germany and in March 2025 the third Nestoren tournament is scheduled at Wesel-Undeloh on the scenic Luneburg Heath south of Hamburg. We should like to see more like this.

For the (regrettably few) 75+ prizes/tournaments the qualifying year is 1949.

 

This introductory page is only updated when there are significant changes. Our Seniors news and Seniors calendar pages are usually updated weekly, so please check them regularly for updates.