The term chess prodigy refers to 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 Champion.
Early chess prodigies
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. Morphy went on to be unofficial World Champion (before the official title existed), Capablanca became the third World Champion, and Reshevsky—while never attaining the title—was amongst the top few players in the world for many decades.
Arturo Pomar (1931-2016) was another to be labelled a prodigy by chess writers. 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
There is often widespread attention when a young player defeats a Grandmaster, whether in a standard tournament game or less formal conditions.
List of youngest grandmasters
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.
|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 became Grandmasters before their 14th birthday.
|Abhimanyu Mishra||United States||12 years, 4 months, 25 days||2009|
|Sergey Karjakin||Ukraine||12 years, 7 months, 0 days||1990|
|Gukesh D||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||1999|
|Raunak Sadhwani||India||13 years, 9 months, 28 days||2005|
|Bu Xiangzhi||China||13 years, 10 months, 13 days||1985|
|Samuel Sevian||United States||13 years, 10 months, 27 days||2000|
|Richárd Rapport||Hungary||13 years, 11 months, 6 days||1996|
Note: Karjakin has changed countries since attaining the grandmaster title.
List of youngest female grandmasters
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):
|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|
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