Chess prodigy

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Samuel Reshevsky playing chess with Douglas Fairbanks, as Charlie Chaplin watches them during filming of the American silent film The Three Musketeers, 1921.

A chess prodigy is a young child who possesses an aptitude for the game of chess that far exceeds what might be expected at their age. Their prodigious talent will often enable them to defeat experienced adult players and even titled chess masters. Some chess prodigies have progressed to become World Chess Champions.

Early chess prodigies[edit]

Early chess prodigies included Paul Morphy (1837–1884) and José Raúl Capablanca (1888–1942), both of whom won matches against strong adult opponents at the age of 12, and Samuel Reshevsky (1911–1992), who was giving simultaneous exhibitions at the age of six.[1] Morphy went on to become the world's leading player before the formal title of World Champion existed. Capablanca became the third World Champion, and Reshevsky—while never attaining the title—was amongst the world's elite players for many decades.

Arturo Pomar (1931–2016) was another to be labelled a prodigy by chess writers.[2][3] He played his first international tournament (Madrid 1943) at the age of 11 and went on to become Spain's first grandmaster.

Youngest to defeat a grandmaster[edit]

There is often widespread attention when a young player defeats a Grandmaster, whether in a standard tournament game or less formal conditions.

13-year-old Magnus Carlsen formally playing against 35-year-old
Ivan Sokolov, 2004

Formal conditions[edit]

The youngest player to defeat a grandmaster under standard time controls is Awonder Liang, who in 2012 defeated Larry Kaufman at the Washington International at the age of 9 years and 111 days.[4]

The previous record was set in 2009, when Hetul Shah defeated GM Nurlan Ibrayev at the age of nine years and six months at the Parsvnath Open.[5][6]

Informal conditions[edit]

In 1999, David Howell defeated John Nunn in a blitz game at the age of eight.[6]

In 1976, a ten-year-old Nigel Short beat Viktor Korchnoi as a participant in a simultaneous exhibition, the only game Korchnoi lost in the event.[6]

In March 2021, 10-year-old Frederick Waldhausen Gordon, from Scotland, won against GM Bogdan Lalic in an online rapid 10+5 game in the ECF Grand Prix Rapid Event 1 held on[7][8][9]

In August 2020, 9-year-old Tanitoluwa Adewumi, a Nigerian refugee living in the US, defeated GM Hikaru Nakamura in a blitz game on[10]

List of youngest grandmasters[edit]

Since 1950, when the Grandmaster (GM) title was introduced by FIDE, one measure of chess prodigies is the age at which they gain the GM title. Below are players who have held the record for the youngest grandmaster. The record is currently held by Abhimanyu Mishra. The age listed is the age at which they qualified for the title. This is not equal to the age at which they officially became grandmasters, because GM titles can only be awarded at FIDE congresses. The nationality listed is the player's nationality at the time of gaining the title, not their current or later nationality.

List of youngest grandmasters since 1950
Year Player Country Age
1950 David Bronstein  Soviet Union 26 years
1952 Tigran Petrosian  Soviet Union 23 years
1955 Boris Spassky  Soviet Union 18 years
1958 Bobby Fischer  United States 15 years, 6 months, 1 day
1991 Judit Polgár  Hungary 15 years, 4 months, 28 days
1994 Péter Lékó  Hungary 14 years, 4 months, 22 days
1997 Étienne Bacrot  France 14 years, 2 months, 0 days
1997 Ruslan Ponomariov  Ukraine 14 years, 0 months, 17 days
1999 Bu Xiangzhi  China 13 years, 10 months, 13 days
2002 Sergey Karjakin  Ukraine 12 years, 7 months, 0 days
2021 Abhimanyu Mishra  United States 12 years, 4 months, 25 days

This is a list of the players who fulfilled the requirements to attain the title of Grandmaster before their 14th birthday.

Grandmasters younger than 14 years old
Player Country Age Birth year
Abhimanyu Mishra  United States 12 years, 4 months, 25 days 2009
Sergey Karjakin  Ukraine 12 years, 7 months, 0 days 1990
Gukesh Dommaraju  India 12 years, 7 months, 17 days 2006
Javokhir Sindarov  Uzbekistan 12 years, 10 months, 5 days 2005
Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu  India 12 years, 10 months, 13 days 2005
Nodirbek Abdusattorov  Uzbekistan 13 years, 1 month, 11 days 2004
Parimarjan Negi  India 13 years, 4 months, 22 days 1993
Magnus Carlsen  Norway 13 years, 4 months, 27 days 1990
Wei Yi  China 13 years, 8 months, 23 days[11] 1999
Raunak Sadhwani  India 13 years, 9 months, 28 days[12] 2005
Bu Xiangzhi  China 13 years, 10 months, 13 days 1985
Samuel Sevian  United States 13 years, 10 months, 27 days[13] 2000
Richárd Rapport  Hungary 13 years, 11 months, 6 days[14] 1996

Note: Karjakin and Rapport have changed countries since attaining the grandmaster title.

List of youngest female grandmasters[edit]

Below are the holders of the record for the youngest female player to become a grandmaster (not to be confused with the lesser Woman Grandmaster title):

Youngest female grandmasters
Year Player Country Age
1978 Nona Gaprindashvili  Soviet Union 37 years
1984 Maia Chiburdanidze  Soviet Union 23 years
1991 Susan Polgar  Hungary 21 years
1991 Judit Polgár  Hungary 15 years, 4 months
2002 Humpy Koneru  India 15 years 1 month
2008 Hou Yifan  China 14 years, 6 months[15]


  1. ^ "Chess prodigies and mini-grandmasters". 10 January 2006. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
  2. ^ Saidy, Anthony; Lessing, Norman (1974). The World of Chess. William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. p. 13. ISBN 0-394-48777-X.
  3. ^ Whyld, Kenneth (1986). Guinness Chess, The Records. Guinness Publishing Ltd. p. 259. ISBN 0851124550.
  4. ^ "Awonder Liang Now World's Youngest Grandmaster". 10 August 2017. Retrieved 15 August 2020.
  5. ^ McClain, Dylan Loeb (17 January 2009). "9-Year-Old Defies the Ratings and Defeats a Grandmaster". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 August 2020.
  6. ^ a b c "9-year-old Hetul Shah (India) youngest ever to beat a GM". 31 August 2011. Retrieved 15 August 2020.
  7. ^ Brown, Angie (22 May 2021). "news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife". Archived from the original on 22 May 2021. Retrieved 22 May 2021 – via
  8. ^ "Rapid Chess • FREDERICKtheMATE vs GM BogdanLalic".
  9. ^ "ECF Grand Prix Rapid Event 1 by ECF Online Rapid Grand Prix Series 2021: Standard 10+5 #ILOHq9MS".
  10. ^ "TanitoluwaAps116 v. Hikaru". 29 August 2022.
  11. ^ Wei Yi has become the youngest GM in the world Archived 28 February 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Rao, Rakesh (20 October 2019). "Raunak Sadhwani becomes India's 65th Grandmaster". The Hindu.Rao, Rakesh (20 October 2019). "Raunak Sadhwani becomes India's 65th Grandmaster". The Hindu.
  13. ^ "Youngest-ever American Chess Grandmaster crowned in St. Louis". 23 November 2014. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
  14. ^ "Richard Rapport Becomes Hungary's Youngest Grandmaster - Chessdom". Archived from the original on 28 July 2017. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
  15. ^ WWCC - Nalchik 2008 - and now there are just four! Archived 13 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine, FIDE web site, 9 September 2008

External links[edit]