Youngest GM Ever to Play in America

Youngest GM Ever to Play in America

| 4 | Chess Event Coverage

The current world's youngest grandmaster, 14-year-old Wei Yi (2580), is the newest marquee name to register for the Third Bay Area International, to be held January 2-8, 2014 in Santa Clara, CA. His participation will make him the youngest GM ever to play in the United States.

Wei is the fourth-youngest grandmaster ever, and made quite a splash this August at the FIDE World Cup in Norway. Despite being ranked 105 out of 124 in the knockout event, he beat GM Ian Nepomniachtchi in the opening round and GM Alexei Shirov after that.

When he plays his first round in Northern California, he will be exactly 14 years and 7 months old. America's youngest-ever GM, Ray Robson, was days away from turning 15 by the time he secured the title. As for the other grandmasters who were younger than Wei, GM Sergey Karjakin has never played in the U.S., GM Parimarjan Negi played in Philadelphia when he was 15, and GM Magnus Carlsen waiting until this past summer, when he was 22.

Wei Yi, who earned three norms in five months to become a grandmaster earlier this year

The record that Wei is breaking appears to belong to GM Peter Leko, who became a grandmaster in 1994 at around 14 years, 5 months (then an all-time record, since bested by 13 other players). But Leko waited until the summer of that year to play in the States, at the first PCA-Intel Grand Prix. By that time, he was 14 years, 9 months - roughly two months older than Wei will be in January.

Wei leads the Chinese contingent of five players. Included are two of the four women in the field - WGM Wang Jue (2382) is the highest-rated woman so far (there is a "mixed-doubles" prize for highest-scoring male-female team). 

One dozen countries are currently represented in the player list, with GM Alexendar Ipatov (2625) of Turkey still the highest-rated. GM Sam Shankland is the returning champion, and easily the highest-rated American to sign up to date.

(Editors note: Since this preview was written, more Chinese players have decided to attend, including GM Bu Xiangzhi, who also became a GM before his 14th birthday. At 2675, he is currently ranked first, and WGM Huang Qian, another new entrant, is currently the top woman.)

Overall, the 13 GMs, nine IMs and two WGMs in a field of 42 will make norm-hunters froth at the chance to obtain an elusive norm. Entry, which is limited to players with FIDE ratings above 2000, has fees rise after November 1.

For more on the tournament, see the previous announcement of the Bay Area International.

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