We're going to have to watch this kid

12/3/2001 – He has just turned 18, hails from the Ukraine and became a grandmaster at the age of 14 years, 0 months, 17 days. Today Ruslan Ponomariov is equipped with 2684 Elo points and has won all of his last five games in the FIDE world championship. No glamour gallery, though. In the other games Ivanchuk and Bareev won, all other men drew. In the women's section Peng Zhaoqin beat Maia Chiburdanidze. There will be no games tomorrow. You can replay or download all today's games here...

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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.

Now 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 (a spokesperson for FIDE confirmed that the Presidential Council had awarded the Grandmaster title to Radjabov at a meeting in Cannes over the weekend).

Here are the statistics 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

The Chinese player Bu Xiangzhi achieved his final GM norm at 13 years, 10 months, 13 days, but under suspicious circumstances. Radjabov had previously won a total of seven World and European junior titles. He finished equal first with 8.5/11 at a Grandmaster all-play-all Category 8 (average rating 2425.5) qualifier in Ukraine in March to gain his final norm. He is being hailed as a possible new world champion – while others think he must be a Kasparov clone.


Teimour with Garry Kasparov


...and learning from the masters (Vladimir Kramnik)

 

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...


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