Child prodigies are a well-known phenomenon in chess. The great Capablanca learned the game at four, and was one of the strongest players in Cuba in his early teens. Samuel Reshevsky also started at four and was giving simultaneous exhibitions at six.
Four-year-old Capablanca playing against his father,
soon after learning the moves in 1892
Sammy Reshevsky playing Charles Jaffe at 11. He tied for third with Janowski,
Bigelow and Bernstein.
In recent times we have seen the record for youngest grandmaster in the history of the game topple repeatedly. In 2001 the Baku Sun, a newspaper from Garry Kasparov's hometown in Azerbaijan, reports that 14-year-old prodigy Teimour Radjabov had been confirmed as the youngest chess Grandmaster in history. He is being hailed as a possible new world champion while others think he must be a Kasparov clone.
The Chinese player Bu Xiangzhi achieved his final GM norm at 13 years, 10 months, 13 days, but under suspicious circumstances.
|Talking about clones the British lad Murugan
Thiruchelvam was England's youngest ever player to gain an international
rating (2020 at the age of nine). Less than a week after his 10th birthday
he played against Garry Kasparov in a simultaneous exhibition. Garry singled
out his game against Murugan as the best of the day. He told us that he
was very impressed by the strategic understanding of the youngster.
Like Vishy Anand Murugan is a Tamil (his parents hail
from Sri Lanka) and was born on December 11th the same day as Anand.
Talk about strange coincidences...
Here are the statistics for GM titles so far:
|Player||Final GM norm at|
|Bobby Fischer||15 years, 6 months, 1 day|
|Judit Polgar||15 years, 4 months, 28 days|
|Peter Leko||14 years, 4 months, 22 days|
|Etienne Bacrot||14 years, 2 months, 0 days|
|Ruslan Ponomaryov||14 years, 0 months, 17 days|
|Teimour Radjabov||14 years, 0 months, 14 days|
|Bu Xiangzhi||13 years, 10 months, 13 days|
|Sergey Karjakin||12 years, 7 months, 0 days|
The latest candidate grandmaster
The latest wunderkind came to the attention of the international press when it was discovered that Ruslan Ponomariov, who won the FIDE world championship early this year, had an 11-year-old player as his official second. Seriously. It was the Ukrainian IM Sergei Karjakin, who later turned up at the Aeroflot tournament in Moscow in January and dutifully chalked up a GM norm there.
Young Sergei then played at FIDE Grand Prix in Dubai, where he went out in the first round against Veselin Topalov, the world number 8 player. To be fair, his boss, FIDE world champion Ruslan Ponomariov also suffered a similar fate at the hand of FIDE world women's champion Zhu Chen.
On 16.05.2002 John Henderson reported that the Sergei has gained his second GM norm. Playing in the category 8 (2427) Alushta-100 tournament in the Ukraine, he scored 9.5/13 to share first equal in the tournament with GM Evgenij Miroshnichenko.
On August 20, 2002, Ukraine Chess Online reported that Sergey Karjakin has fulfilled his last GM norm. He did so at the international chess tournament in Sudak, a town on the Crimea Peninsula, Ukraine. This makes him the youngest GM in the chess history. His FIDE rating is 2523.
As John Henderson wrote: "There surely can't be many schoolboys out there
who can claim to have been a grandmaster and an official trainer to a
world champion during a title match before reaching their teens!