That’s the by-line in an article in today’s Daily Telegraph, referring to those Sisters of Notre Dame who continue teaching after retirement, compared to the ones who choose to stop. The article goes on to extol the cryptic crossword as the ‘solution’ to brain-ageing. But we chess-players know that our great game is the real answer.
Apparently, another ‘huge’ study (not involving nuns) has discovered that undertaking just 10 one-hour sessions of brain training over a period of five or six weeks has “the potential for delaying dementia or attenuating it”. Well, that’s good news. What about a couple of three-hour games of chess every week and several hours of preparation? Perhaps, as the article suggests, with tongue firmly in cheek, if the nuns did the cryptic crossword as well as continuing to teach, they would probably live forever.
You only have to look around the East Anglian chess scene. Linton’s John Dawson celebrates his 90th birthday this year and those who know him will recall his sharp wit and twinkling eyes. The long-departed Don Ward (pictured right) was Suffolk Champion on 14 occasions. Up to the age of 89 he would turn up regularly at the Bury Knights and delight in teaching tactics to the kids.
Most clubs have members in their 70s or 80s, who continue to play regularly. Ipswich’s Roger Smith is 76 and has won six games out of seven in this season’s Suffolk League. Bury’s Chas Szentmihaly won’t disclose his true age, but is believed to be either 79 or 80. And I remember, with great affection, Roy Adams, who died ten years ago at the age of 73 when his latest (BCF) grade had plummeted to 76. He had always promised to give up chess if his age ever exceeded his grade!