Chess master turns 110 years old

One hundred years of playing chess may have something to do with Zoltan Sarosy’s ability to remember events that happened before the First World War. He turns 110 on Tuesday, and according to the Gerontology Research Group, that makes him the oldest man in Canada.

With memories stretching back to pre-WW1, Zoltan Sarosy is believed to be Canada’s oldest man

At 110 years old, Sarosy has maintained his memory, his interests, and his sense of humour, says friend Stacey Simon. (Submitted by Stacey Simon)

Nearly100 years of playing chess may have something to do with Zoltan Sarosy's ability to remember events that happened before the First World War.

Sarosy turns 110 on Tuesday, and according to the Gerontology Research Group, that makes him the oldest man in Canada.

But Sarosy, who became a chess master in 1943, isn't sure what his secret is. 

"I'm still working on the formula. As soon as I have it, I will patent it and then you will have it," he said in footage from a documentary provided to CBC News by filmmaker Stacey Simon. 

Simon is a close friend of Sarosy, and is working on the documentary, which is untitled at the moment. She spoke to CBC News on his behalf after he declined a request for an interview.

Simon says Sarosy's memory remains remarkably intact, stretching back to his childhood in the 1910's in Budapest, Hungary, where he first took up chess at age 10.

Sarosy won the title of chess master in 1943, before immigrating to Toronto in the 1950s. (Submitted by Stacey Simon)
 

"He can remember what he did a few hours ago, or yesterday, or a week ago" as well as events in his life from decades long gone by, said Simon.  

"That makes him an amazing storyteller."

In 110 years, Sarosy's had time to be wowed by many new technologies — including ones that don't sound so new anymore.

Sarosy became interested in chess when he saw the game being played in a park in Budapest. (Submitted by Stacey Simon)

"He's extremely impressed by the airplane," said Simon.  

Sarosy is also interested in more modern inventions, buying his first computer at age 95.

He still goes online to read the news and to e-mail family and friends, though he gave up chess at 107. 

As important as his brain-stimulating chess habit might be Sarosy's chipper attitude.

"I've never felt sad or depressed in my entire life," he said in Simon's film footage.

Sarosy will celebrate his birthday surrounded by family and friends at his High Park retirement residence.

The birthday cake will be black forest, his favourite, decorated like — what else? — a chess board.