The age of becoming a chess master is geting younger and younger. We now have 10 year old masters and a 12 year old grandmaster. Here are some of the chess prodigies over the years.
Alexander Alekhine learned chess at the age of 7 and was playing grandmaster strength at the age of 18. At age 16, he won the All russian Amateur Tournament and became Russia's youngest master.
In 1997, Etienne Bacrot became the youngest grandmaster in the world at the age of 14 years, 2 months. He started playing chess at the age of 4. He won the Junior Championship of France when he was 10. Bacrot was also the youngest FIDE master at the age of 10.
Magnus Carlsen (born in 1990) of Norway learned chess at the age of 8. He became an International Master at the age of 13. In 2004, he became the second-youngest grandmaster in chess history (13 years, 3 months), behind Sergey Karjakin. In 2005, he became the yongest player ever to qualify for the Candidates.
The Chinese plaer Bu Xiangzhi, born in 1985, became the youngest grandmaster in the world (age of 13 years, 10 months, 13 days) in 1999. He was also the World-Under 14 Champion. He is now the second highest rated chess player in China.
Jose Capablanca leaned the game at the age of 4 by watching his father, an Army officer, play. By the age of 5, he was defeating his father. His father later took him to the Havana Chess Club to meet stronger players. Capablana eventualy defeated them all. Capablanca never had any chess lessons and learned the game on his own. By the age of 12, he defeated the Cuban national chess champion in an informal match, winning 4 games, drawing 6 games, and losing 3 games.
Bobby Fischer became a Grandmaster at the age of 15years, 6 months. He learned the game at the age of 6. He played in hist first rated tournament when he was 12. He started out with a USCF rating of 1625. At the age of 13, he won the US Junior championship and became America's youngest master. At the age of 14, he won the US Open and the US Championship. His rating was now 2722. At 14, he qualified for the Interzonal.and became an International Master.
In 2002, Koneru Humpy became a grandmaster at the age of 15 years, 2 months. She became the youngest female to become an international grandmaster. She started playing chess at the age of 5. She has won four World Championships, including the World Girls Under-10, Under-12, Under-14, and the World Girls Junior championships.
Sergey Karjakin became a Grandmaster at the age of 12 years, 7 months, the youngest ever. He won the World Under-12 Championship. He is now one of the top 100 players in the world.
Anatoly Karpov learned chess at the age of 4. By the age of 15, he was a Russian chess master. He won the World Junior Championship at age 18 and became the world's youngest grandmaster in 1970 at the age of 19.
In 1994, Peter Leko became the youngest Grandmaster in the world at the age of 14 years and 4 months. He was an International Master at the age of 12. In 1996, he was the World Under-16 Champion. He is currently ranked number 7 in the world.
In 1998, Hikaru Nakamura (born in 1987) became the youngest master in the United States at the age of 10 years, 79 days. He became America's youngest International Master at the age of 13. In 2003, he became America's youngest-ever grandmaster (15 years, 2 months). In 2004, he won the US Championship, the youngest since Fischer.
The Polgar sisters (Susan, Sofia, and Judit) were all chess prodigies.
Judit Polgar became a men's Grandmaster at the age of 15 years, 4 months. She was an International Master at age 11, younger than Fischer and Kasparov. At the age of 13, she was World Under-14 Champion and the world's highest rated female. In 1988, she became the first woman in history to win the US Open. In 2003, she was one of the top 10 chess players in the world.
Ruslan Ponomariov became a Grandmaster at the age of 14 years, 14 days. At the age of 10, hewon the World Under-12 Championship. At the age of 12, he won the European Under-18 Championship. In 2002, he became the youngest FIDE champion ever at the age of 18.
Samuel Reshevsky, born in Poland, learned the game at the age of 4. By the age of 6, he was giving simultaneous chess exhibitions. By the age of 8, he was defeating some of the country's most prominant chess players. He came to the United States at the age of 9. His first simultaneous exhibition was with 20 officers and cadets at the Army Military Academy at West Point. He won 19 games and drew one. His family then took him on tour of the United States. The 9-year-old played over 1,500 games and only lost 8 games.
In 2001, Teimour Radjabov, became the world's youngest Grandmaster at the age of 14 years and 14 days. He comes from Baku, the same home town of Gary Kasparov. At the age of 12, he was the world-uner 18 chess champion. At the age of 15, he was ranked as one of the top 100 chess players in the world. In 2004, he took 3rd place at the FIDE World Championship in Tripoli. He also learned the game at the age of 4.
Boris Spassky learned the game of chess at age 5. By age 18 he had won the World Junior Championship, took 3rd place in the USSR Championship, and qualified as a Candidate for the World Championship
Mikhail Tal learned chess at the age of 8. He won the Latvian championship at the age of 17.
Players who have become grandmasters before age 15 include Karjakin, Negi, Carlsen, Bu Xiangzhi, Radjabov, Ponomariov, Bacrot, Vachier-Lagrave, Leko, Kuzubov, and Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son.