Abhimanyu's book

by Frederic Friedel
9/27/2022 – This book contains a revealing self-portrait of Abhimanyu Mishra. The youngest grandmaster in the history of chess tells the story of a highly ambitious family project. Supported by his father, mother and sister, Abhi sets out to beat a nineteen-year-old world record. In June 202, at the height of the Covid pandemic, he succeeded against all odds: ‘I should have been jumping with excitement, but my heart was so full that I ended up teary-eyed in my father's arms.’ Book review.

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Abhi was born on February 5, 2009. On June 30, 2021, he became the youngest grandmaster in the world at 12 years 4 months and 25 days.

In this book, he explains the extraordinary training methods of his father, who not only helped Abhi develop his talents and fighting spirit but also selected his professional chess coaches to constantly improve his skills. Together they travelled from New Jersey to Budapest, Hungary, for the last part of the journey – a non-stop barrage of chess games to secure the necessary results.

"The pressure was immense, both for me and my opponent. It was a dead equal game and I decided to sacrifice my knight for a pawn. It was right at this moment that my opponent gave in to the severe time pressure and ended up making a mistake. After a few moves, GM Leon resigned. I had won the game. I went out and saw Bapu waiting for me. I rushed to him and gave him a big hug. I had become the youngest Grandmaster in the entire world. I had beaten a nineteen-year-old world record. I should have been jumping with excitement, but my heart was so full that I ended up teary-eyed in the arms of my father."

If you wish to purchase this book you can best do so directly from the publishers, New in Chess, where it is available as a paperback (€24.95) or an eBook (€19.95). There you can see some sample pages, which include the forward, written by the author of this review. I had met Abhi, virtually in Skype, in 2021. About this he writes:

Interestingly, Frederic Friedel, founder of ChessBase, has been a part of the journey of chess players who have reached the top today. It is as if supporting and motivating young talent in the field of chess is a life mission for him. How can I not feel grateful for his presence in my life? Whether it was a coincidence or fate, I do not know. But at a time when life was throwing disappointment after disappointment my way, he appeared and encouraged me to keep working hard, no matter the circumstances. In that moment I knew that the disappointments were in fact leading me to my goal.

Abhi's book contains a lot of chess. But it is the narrative between the games that delight. We are given a vivid description of the adventure of a young boy on a very big mission. It is all described in his own words. Here are some examples that will give you an impression of his writing and style. Let us start with a practical problem of a 12-year-old:

As a five year old kid, I was extremely fond of my glass of milk in the morning. Now, not all games that I played were a couple of miles away. Many times Bapu drove for over ninety minutes to get me to the venue. Each of these times I made it a point to drink a glass of milk before leaving. I didn't want to feel hungry on the way, you see. But every single time I would be in a daze, distracted to the highest degree possible until I vomited my heart out. It soon became a pattern. Playing a good game was next to impossible until my ritualistic throwing up happened. In no time at all my dad understood that the long drives combined with the good glass of milk were the roadblock. Eliminating the drives was out of the question. So he chose the second best and eliminated the glass of milk before games far from home. It was replaced with a light, healthy snack, along with a no junk food rule two days prior to every such tournament. In a battle of love and life, life ended up winning.

Or another passage: 

I wasn't always a tiger roaring at my opponents across a chess board. There was a time when I was a shy little boy. I was working hard at my game, I was making progress, but I continued to struggle inwardly. At one of the League Nights, I was paired against a six feet tall, brawny man who looked deep into my eyes as I played my game. As I took position for the game before it started, he looked at me from head to toe. What do I hear next? He asked me to go call my dad or whoever it was to be playing against him. I don't quite blame him for mistaking me for just a random kid accompanying his chess champion father. It was only when Bapu came to the spot and confirmed that it was me who would be playing against him, did he give in, albeit apprehensively.

And here is a sample of a game, one of 26 that he has annotated, quite extrensively, in the book. Note that you can click on the moves to replay them on a pop-up board, which has an engine (fan icon) to help you follow the analysis. 

 

While being absolutely sound (click on a move and start the engine to analyse the lines Abhi has given), it also gives you an impression of the thoughts and feelings of the seven-year-old chess talent who was rated 1867 at the time.

The book contains many games from Abhi's final IM phase, but also from the time he had become the youngest GM in the history of the game. If you want to hear what he sounds like and how he discusses his games, here's a session Sagar Shah of ChessBase Indian conducted with Abhi so after he had his GM title. They discuss what the boy considers his best game. About this Abhi writes:

When I became a grandmaster, only a couple of hours later IM Sagar Shah interviewed me on the ChessBase India YouTube stream. How incredibly fortunate I was to be receiving the kind of support that only a family can provide, at one of the most crucial moments of my life in chess. No amount of words can express my gratitude for them.

Here's the video stream Sagar broadcast:

You can follow this game with computer analysis on our live replay board:

 

 


Editor-in-Chief emeritus of the ChessBase News page. Studied Philosophy and Linguistics at the University of Hamburg and Oxford, graduating with a thesis on speech act theory and moral language. He started a university career but switched to science journalism, producing documentaries for German TV. In 1986 he co-founded ChessBase.

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shivasundar shivasundar 9/27/2022 11:10
Very nice article; thanks Frederic - will cherish this. Well written stories.

Karsten, I have already seen your Endgame Masterclass with Abhi - thank you too 'sir' :-)! I remember him struggling with one endgame - and then suggesting a different approach (may be he didn't get one prophylactic move - was it a Karpov?)
Karsten Müller Karsten Müller 9/27/2022 02:23
I was really impressed by Abhi's deep insight into the endgame. Please see yourself:
https://en.chessbase.com/post/karsten-mueller-s-endgame-magic-155-with-abhimanyu-mishra-the-world-s-youngest-grandmaster-of-all-time
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