A reader notes two more cases.
Shmuel Friedmann, known as "Dugo", who started his activity in the Rishon Letziyon chess club in 1940, and was still active upon his death last year -- 72 years of activity, including 50 [1947-97] as the club's president.
Beating both, however, is Eliezer Pe'er [nee Perelberger], who appears as a solver in Davar on Dec. 10th, 1937 [link in Hebrew] and is still active today, 2013, in the Reti chess club in Tel Aviv. This would make it 75 -- going on 76 -- years of chess activity.
Is this a world record?
Edited to add: various web sites, such as this one, claim the record is held by Walter Ivans, who "started to play chess at age 10" and "died at 98" having "played for 85 years" [i.e., to age 95].
1. It is not clear what the source of this record is. Does any reader have information about Ivans?
2. Pe'er, too, is to be 98 this year [b. 1915], and probably "started to play" chess as a child [most players do]. If we accept that he learned chess before his 13th birthday -- which would be unusually late -- then he already beat Ivans' record.
3. It is not clear of what Ivans' chess activity had been [can some reader enlighten me?], while Pe'er constant activity in Palestinian / Israeli chess is well known. He was, for example, the captain of the Israeli team to the 1962 Olympiad; he was active in the Reti club since its founding in 1952, the reader noted above informs me; etc.
Many people learn the game as children and play occasionally all their lives; any centenarian who plays an occasional game could thus claim 90+ years of "chess activity", beating both Pe'er and Ivans.This is why I attempt to find documented evidence of "chess activity". activity -- actually joining a chess club, publishing or solving a problem, etc. Hence I am not claiming that Pe'er has nearly 90 years of "chess activity", nor make similar claims about "Dugo" or Mohilever.
4. Finally, "learning the game at age X" is too vague. For one thing it would add -- as we saw -- quite a few years to the records of Mohilever, Pe'er and "Dugo" as well. For another, it's usually impossible to verify -- how can one tell, nearly a century later, if a player learned to play at age 6, 10, or 14?
More editing: The same reader noted that, for example, Andor Lilienthal and Aron Schvarzman probably had longer documented careers. True, true -- but it is still surely an Israeli record, at least...