At 87 years old, Raymond Shapira is sharp, and has a level of energy that matches his younger opponents as they play chess with the Atlanta Chess Club at O’brian’s Tavern in Dunwoody. He has his eyes set toward the 12th Annual Georgia Senior Open, which will be held on September 26-27 at Gwinnett Place Mall. The Senior Open is a Georgia Chess Association event designed to celebrate players 50 years old and above who still play competitive chess.
Chess, after all, is not only a game for young players, but a game that senior players love playing, as well. The game of chess has sustained their interest since their younger years and has maintained their sharp minds as they grew older. This activity may likely have kept them away from mental disabilities that afflict other seniors.
Shapira played while he was young, but World War II intervened and kept him away from the game he loved. He was 18 when he was weaned away from the game, but his mental acuity prepared him for his job in the U.S. army. His mental sharpness gave him the ability to pass a series of tests that challenged his spatial-temporal abilities, the same acumen which he used in chess which set him apart from his contemporaries. With his superior test results, he became an officer responsible for programming battery targets, specifying and calculating exact target locations for artillery units under his command.
He returned to chess only a year ago when his wife passed away. He rediscovered his love for the game, and has been regaining his strength in the game. He openly campaigns for his fellow club members to join him in the Senior Open. Players 50 years of age and older qualify for the Senior Open, and at 87, Shapira is expected to be the oldest player at the event.
The Georgia Senior Open is an effort to celebrate seniors still playing the game, and recognize their perseverance to excel in the game. It is an open recognition that they can also reach the top of their game. Those who excel in the Senior tournaments can join the World Seniors, and become a grandmaster in the process.
Larry Kaufmann, a long-time international master, became a grandmaster at age 51 in 2008. In the following game, he played ahead for most of the game against nine-year-old standout Awonder Liang. This game shows that in chess one mistake can turn the tables. It also attests to the fact that seniors can be careful and solid throughout, but aggressive play can cause that one blunder that will cost the game.