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Wei Yi – youngest 2600+ GM ever

10/31/2013 – On the November 1st FIDE rankings Chinese GM Wei Yi will officially appear with 2604 rating points. The amazing thing about this is that Yi achieved his 2600+ rating (on October 1st) at the tender age of 14 years 4 months and 30 days. That is seven months less than the previous record of Filipino Grandmaster Wesley So from October. James Satrapa has tracked his progress.
 

Wei Yi – youngest 2600+ GM ever

By James Satrapa

On FIDE’s rating list for November 2013, Wei Yi has surpassed 2600. He is easily the youngest grandmaster in the world, the only one in fact who is under 15 years of age, and has now become the youngest player of all time to surpass the rating of 2600. The previous record holder is another prodigy, Filipino Grandmaster Wesley So, who passed 2600 on 1 October 2008 at the age of 14 years 11 months and 22 days. Wei Yi has slashed nearly seven months from So’s record by achieving an official rating of 2604 at the tender age of 14 years 4 months and 30 days. Compare this to Teimour Radjabov (15 years 20 days), Magnus Carlsen (15 years and 1 month and 2 days) and Sergey Karjakin (15 years 2 months 20 days), and the magnitude of his achievement becomes even more apparent.

What is the story of this young chess phenomenon?

Born in Jiangzhou province in June 1999, Wei Yi first appeared on the world’s chess radar when at the age of eight, the (then!) diminutive player contested the annual Chinese Championship Group B in 2007 and startled observers when he defeated FM Chen Fan – rated 2354 at the time – and drew against veteran GM Zhou Jianchao during the event in which he scored 5/11. He played in Group B championship three more times, bettering his final result on each occasion and scoring 7/11 in his final appearance in that event in 2011. He then moved up a rung by qualifying for the Chinese Championship in 2013 at the age of 13. More on this later.

The world's youngest GM Wei Yi, who earned the title in March this year

Remarkably, Wei Yi began competing in team events for the Jiangsu club (where he has remained) at around the same time, playing in the 2008 Chinese Team Championships group B, which when combined with his 2008 and 2009 Group B efforts in the individual championships landed the nine-year-old with an inaugural rating of 2138 in January 2009. The following year, 2010, was marked by him winning both the Asian and the World U12 Championships, the latter gaining him his FM title.

Following this victory, and recognizing the depth of his talent, the Chinese Chess Federation made an exception for the prodigy in 2010 to allow him to play in the top section of the Chinese Chess league, for which he would normally not qualify due to rating. Any doubts as to whether the boy would be able to withstand that level of competition, were erased when he scored an excellent win against Chinese super-GM Ni Hua, two-time Chinese champion who had peaked at 2724 Elo the year before. In 2011, Wei made his first foray into the World Championship selection cycle when he competed in the Asian Zonal, scoring a respectable 4.5/9 and adding another swag of points to his rating.


11-year-old Wei Yi (2244) facing GM Liang Jinrong (2462) at the...


Chinese Chess League Division A in 2010 in Ningbo


12-year-old FM Wei YI in the Chinese League Division A in 2011

Since then, Wei has gone from strength to strength with only the occasional minor setback, accumulating victories, rating points and FIDE titles to quickly establish himself as a very young but feared and aggressive opponent. He kicked off 2012 with his first IM norm at the Aeroflot Open B (narrowly missing a GM norm), and then uncorked a strong performance at the 2012 Asian Continental Championship to bring home a 20 game norm and the IM title a few weeks before his 13th birthday. The 13-year old then contested the World Junior Championship 2012 and in his first attempt was in contention for first place, but had to content himself with 11th, scoring 8.5/11 and recording a TPR of 2613 to win his first GM norm. Late in 2012, he earned his second GM norm at the 2nd Indonesia Open Chess Championship (2012). He followed up soon afterwards in the new year with his third GM norm, and the GM title, in round nine of the Reykjavik Open (2013) at the age of 13 years 8 months and 23 days, incidentally also placing =4th (6th on tiebreak). The only other players to achieve the GM title at an earlier age were Sergey Karjakin, Parimarjan Negi and Magnus Carlsen.

Not content to rest on his laurels, the newly minted Grandmaster-elect (FIDE ratified his title a week later) competed at the Chinese Championship 2013. He broke even with the scoreboard against eleven other Grandmaster opponents, finishing =4th. Later in the year, he received the honour of being selected as one of the FIDE President’s nominees to the World Cup 2013. One of the sensations of that tournament, he despatched Russian heavyweight GM Ian Nepomniachtchi in the first round and Latvian #1 and former World Championship Challenger Alexey Shirov in the second round. Although he lost to two-time World Junior Champion and recently anointed Candidate Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in the third round, he was being considered by some of his peers as already approaching 2700 playing strength. Such were the expectations on the now 14-year old, that his result at the 2013 World Junior Championship was considered disappointing by some, although he placed seventh, finishing better than his number ten seeding for the event, and added more points to his rating to almost reach 2600.

Wei Yi facing top Chinese GM Ding Liren at the 2013 Hainan Danzhou Tournament

The event which enabled Wei Yi to break through to beyond 2600 was the Asian Cities tournament that was held in the Philippines in October 2013. Playing board one for Wuxi, he scored a stunning near-2700 performance with 7.5/9 (+6 =3) including 3.5/5 (+2 =3) against his five GM opponents, to lead his city team to win bronze.

The 2604 rating of Wei Yi, the world number one player U14, is such that he is rated higher than the top U16 player in the world and is ranked behind only a handful of U18 players. In fact, consider also that in August 2012 he was listed as 2418 Elo, and now, 15 months later is already at a lofty 2604, for a gain of 186 Elo. Amazing.

His favourite player? Magnus Carlsen, “because he is so strong.”

Here's a 27-move crush of a veteran Chinese GM at the Danzhou GM tourney:

[Event "4th Danzhou Tournament"] [Site "Danzhou CHN"] [Date "2013.05.28"] [Round "8.5"] [White "Wei Yi"] [Black "Zhou Jianchao"] [Result "1-0"] [WhiteElo "2530"] [BlackElo "2607"] [ECO "B80"] [EventDate "2013.05.20"] [PlyCount "53"] 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 e6 7.f3 b5 8.Qd2 Nbd7 9.g4 b4 10.Nce2 h6 11.0-0-0 Qc7 12.h4 d5 13.exd5 Nxd5 14.Nf4 Nxe3 15.Qxe3 Qe5 16.Qd2 Bc5 17.Nf5 0-0 18.Re1 Qb8 19.Nxg7 b3 20.axb3 Qb4 21.c3 Qxb3 22.Ngh5 Rb8 23.Nd3 Ba3 24.Rh2 Bb7 25.Kb1 Bxf3 26.Qxh6 Qxc3 27.Re5 1-0

The future looks very bright for this young genius.

Rating progress chart of GM Wei Yi

Compare this to the current world number one and former boy prodigy Magnus Carlsen:

And here is the progress rating chart of the youngest GM in history, Sergey Karjakin:

 

James Satrapa has worked and lived in every State and Territory of his native island, Australia. When he found himself in one place long enough to indulge his passion for chess, he keenly participated in club and State championship chess. After he started losing to young players whose feet didn't reach the floor from their chairs he retired to the more leisurely labours of Internet-based chess playing and occasional commentary.

James now lives with his family and works in the national capital, Canberra, as a consultant in risk management.


Youngest grandmasters in history

No.
 Player
Nat.
years
mths
days
born
GM
FIDE
 Sergey Karjakin
UKR
12
7
0
1990
2002
 Parimarjan Negi
IND
13
4
22
1993
2006
 Magnus Carlsen
NOR
13
4
27
1990
2004
 Wei Yi
CHN
13
8
23
1999
2013
 Bu Xiangzhi
CHN
13
10
13
1985
1999
 Richard Rapport
HUN
13
11
15
1996
2010
 Teimour Radjabov
AZE
14
0
14
1987
2001
 Ruslan Ponomariov 
UKR
14
0
17
1983
1997
 Wesley So
PHI
14
1
28
1993
2007
10 
 Etienne Bacrot
FRA
14
2
0
1983
1997
11 
 Jorge Cori
PER
14
2
0
1995
2009
12 
 Illya Nyzhnyk
UKR
14
3
2
1996
2010
13 
 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave
FRA
14
4
0
1990
2005
14 
 Peter Leko
HUN
14
4
22
1979
1994
15 
 Hou Yifan
CHN
14
6
2
1994
2008
16 
 Anish Giri
RUS
14
7
2
1994
2009
17 
 Yuri Kuzubov
UKR
14
7
12
1990
2004
18
 Dariusz Swiercz
POL
14
7
29
1994
2009
19
 Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son 
VIE
14
10
0
1990
2004
20
 Daniil Dubov
RUS
14
11
14
1996
2011
21
 Ray Robson
USA
14
11
16
1994
2009
22
 Fabiano Caruana
ITA
14
11
20
1992
2007
23
 Samvel Ter-Sahakyan
ARM
14
11
?
1993
2008
24
Jan-Krzysztof Duda
POL
15
0
21
1998
2013
chart
25
 Andrei Volokitin
UKR
15
0
22
1986
2001
26
 Yangyi Yu
CHN
15
0
23
1994
2009
27
 Koneru Humpy
IND
15
1
27
1987
2002
28
 Hikaru Nakamura
USA
15
2
19
1987
2003
29
 Suri Vaibhav
IND
15
2
21
1997
2012
30
 Pentala Harikrishna
IND
15
3
5
1986
2001
31
 Le Quang Liem
VIE
15
3
17
1991
2006
32
 Yaroslav Zherebukh
UKR
15
3
?
1993
2008
33
 Judit Polgar
HUN
15
4
28
1976
1991
34
 Alejandro Ramirez
CRI
15
5
14
1988
2003
35
 Arkadij Naiditsch
GER
15
5
?
1985
2001
36
 Bobby Fischer
USA
15
6
1
1943
1958
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Topics Wei Yi, Prodigies

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