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Abhimanyu Mishra Becomes Youngest Grandmaster In Chess History
Abhimanyu Mishra today broke Sergey Karjakin's record. Photo courtesy Swati Hemant Mishra.

Abhimanyu Mishra Becomes Youngest Grandmaster In Chess History

PeterDoggers
| 219 | Chess Event Coverage

IM Abhimanyu Mishra became the youngest chess grandmaster in history today. The 12-year-old player from New Jersey scored his third GM norm in Budapest, having already crossed the required 2500 Elo rating barrier.

Mishra (often called "Abhi") broke GM Sergey Karjakin's record that has stood for 19 years. On August 12, 2002, Karjakin, a world championship challenger in 2016, secured the grandmaster title at the age of 12 years and seven months. Mishra, born on February 5, 2009, took 12 years, four months, and 25 days to obtain the highest title in chess.

Sergey Karjakin Youngest grandmaster
For 19 years, Sergey Karjakin was the youngest grandmaster in history. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Karjakin told Chess.com:

Somehow I am quite philosophic about this because I felt like it has been almost 20 years and it is really too much! It had to be broken. Sooner or later I was sure that it will happen. I was completely sure that one of the Indian guys would do it much earlier. Somehow I was very lucky that it didn't happen.

Yes, I am a little sad that I lost the record, I don't want to lie, but at the same time I can only congratulate him and it's no problem. I hope that he will go on to become one of the top chess players and it will be just a nice start to his big career. I wish him all the best.

I hope that he will go on to become one of the top chess players and it will be just a nice start to his big career. I wish him all the best.
—Sergey Karjakin

Mishra spent several months in Budapest, Hungary playing back-to-back tournaments, chasing the title and the record. He scored both his first and second GM norms there, at the April Vezerkepzo tournament and the May 2021 First Saturday tournament, both round-robins of 10 players specially set up for scoring norms.

He couldn't immediately follow it up in his next three tournaments in the Hungarian capital, which basically started every two weeks: the May and June Vezerkepzo and the June First Saturday round-robins, held in the same playing hall.

However, in his final attempt this month, he succeeded. As several chess players stayed in Budapest for this long period, the organizers created one last event, this time a Swiss group called the Vezerkepzo GM Mix. Having been invited to the FIDE World Cup in Sochi, Mishra knew this was going to be his last chance before leaving Hungary.

Mishra training chess youngest grandmaster Kasparov
Mishra was part of a group that received training from 13th world chess champion Garry Kasparov in the summer of 2019. Left to right: Andrew Hong, Rochelle Wu, Michael Khodarkovsky, Garry Kasparov, Brandon Jacobson, Abhi Mishra, Christopher Yoo. Photo: Aditya Chandra/Saint Louis Chess Club.

He was well on his way to his third GM norm after starting with 5/6, but then Mishra lost in round seven to the Slovak GM Milan Pacher. He then bounced back with a win against the Hungarian FM Bence Leszko.

Today, Mishra won the biggest game of his short but sweet career so far. He defeated the 15-year-old Indian GM Leon Luke Mendonca with the black pieces, securing a performance rating higher than 2600 over nine rounds, which constitutes a GM norm:

Vezerkepzo GM Mix 2021 | Round 9 (of 10) Standings

Rk. SNo FED Name Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3 TB4 rtg+/-
1 3 IM Mishra Abhimanyu 2485 7,0 35,5 36,5 2619 34,00 14,8
2 10 Souhardo Basak 2382 6,5 35,5 35,0 2602 32,50 53,0
3 2 GM Nagy Gabor 2529 5,5 35,5 27,0 2498 28,25 -3,5
4 6 GM Pacher Milan 2406 5,5 35,0 28,0 2494 25,50 11,0
5 5 CM Shahil Dey 2434 5,5 33,5 27,5 2470 23,75 4,7
6 1 GM Mendonca Leon Luke 2549 5,0 35,0 24,0 2420 21,25 -13,6
7 12 FM Juhasz Agoston 2362 5,0 31,5 23,0 2376 18,50 3,8
8 11 GM Czebe Attila 2379 4,5 32,5 22,5 2400 20,75 2,6
9 14 FM Leszko Bence 2311 4,5 31,0 21,5 2370 17,25 13,8
10 7 FM Murphy Conor E 2394 4,5 29,0 21,0 2295 15,00 -11,0
11 8 GM Ilincic Zlatko 2383 4,5 28,5 21,0 2297 16,50 -9,8
12 13 FM Manish Anto Cristiano F 2349 4,0 32,0 20,5 2300 17,75 -10,2
13 9 FM Egresi Mate 2383 4,0 31,5 23,0 2315 13,50 -15,4
14 16 WFM Gaal Zsoka 2233 3,5 31,0 22,0 2279 14,00 18,4
15 4 GM Varga Zoltan 2436 3,5 27,0 20,0 2229 13,00 -23,8
16 17 CM Royal Shreyas 2121 3,5 27,0 13,5 2232 10,50 45,2
17 18 Reviczki Roland 2104 2,5 29,0 12,5 2191 7,50 25,2
18 15 FM Lyell Mark 2233 2,0 28,0 6,5 2088 7,50 -32,2

One of the first instances of Mishra's name appearing on the internet was when he won the under-eight section of the 2016 ChessKid Online National Invitational Championship (CONIC).  In November 2019, Chess.com reported on Mishra becoming International Master at the age of 10 years, nine months, and three days. That was a record as well, but today's record is the one that truly resonates.

Mishra's coach, GM Arun Prasad, had this to say to Chess.com: "My congratulations to Abhi for this great achievement. He fully deserves this success, as I have seen all of his hard work firsthand. His father also deserves applause for all of the sacrifices he has made for Abhi to reach this milestone. Personally, this is a big moment to see my student become a GM!"

My congratulations to Abhi for this great achievement.
— GM Arun Prasad, Mishra's coach

Another prodigy came close to beating Karjakin's record but came up short: GM Gukesh D. got the title aged 12 years, seven months, and 17 days, which was 17 days later than Karjakin. Only five players in history managed to get the title before their 13th birthday.

Below is the full top-10 of the youngest-ever grandmasters. You can learn more about the biggest chess prodigies in this article.

Top 10 Youngest Chess Grandmasters

No. Fed Player Country Age
1 Abhimanyu Mishra USA 12 years, 4 months, 25 days
2 Sergey Karjakin Ukraine* 12 years, 7 months, 0 days
3 Gukesh Dommaraju India 12 years, 7 months, 17 days
4 Javokhir Sindarov Uzbekistan 12 years, 10 months, 5 days
5 Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu India 12 years, 10 months, 13 days
6 Nodirbek Abdusattorov Uzbekistan 13 years, 1 month, 11 days
7 Parimarjan Negi India 13 years, 4 months, 22 days
8 Magnus Carlsen Norway 13 years, 4 months, 27 days
9 Wei Yi China 13 years, 8 months, 23 days
10 Raunak Sadhwani India 13 years, 9 months, 28 days

*Karjakin was still Ukrainian when he got his title. 

Mishra is definitely one of the biggest talents of his generation, as he has shown today. Karjakin eventually became a contender for the world title. Whether Mishra has it in him to become world champion one day will become clear in the years to come.

One thing was confirmed once again this week: that chess is a game for all ages. Only yesterday, Chess.com reported that an 88-year-old chess player from Venezuela recently got his FM title.


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