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
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 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. 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.
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.
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.
In 1999, David Howell defeated John Nunn in a blitz game at the age of eight.
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.
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 lichess.org.
In August 2020, 9-year-old Tanitoluwa Adewumi, a Nigerian refugee living in the US, defeated GM Hikaru Nakamura in a blitz game on chess.com.
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 fulfilled the requirements to attain the title of Grandmaster 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 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||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 and Rapport have 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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- ^ "Awonder Liang Now World's Youngest Grandmaster". chess.com. 10 August 2017. Retrieved 15 August 2020.
- ^ McClain, Dylan Loeb (17 January 2009). "9-Year-Old Defies the Ratings and Defeats a Grandmaster". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 August 2020.
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- ^ "TanitoluwaAps116 v. Hikaru". 29 August 2022.
- ^ Wei Yi has become the youngest GM in the world Archived 28 February 2013 at the Wayback Machine
- ^ 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.
- ^ "Youngest-ever American Chess Grandmaster crowned in St. Louis". 23 November 2014. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
- ^ "Richard Rapport Becomes Hungary's Youngest Grandmaster - Chessdom". players.chessdom.com. Archived from the original on 28 July 2017. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
- ^ WWCC - Nalchik 2008 - and now there are just four! Archived 13 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine, FIDE web site, 9 September 2008