Awonder Liang is youngest ever IM in US

by Albert Silver
12/2/2015 – Records come and go, and US chess has seen an explosion in interest among young players in the past decade. Until a week ago, the record for the youngest IM in the US was held by Samuel Sevian, but it was just broken by IM-elect Awonder Liang, beating him by three months. Except his record of youngest national master was also just broken.

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Chess is booming in the US, and the number of youths playing and swelling the ranks is becoming more and more evident. The talent pool is there too as can be seen by the burgeoning number of prodigies appearing and developing in Terra Americana. It is evident that this is in no small part due to efforts by the US Chess Federation, the Kasparov Chess Foundation, and more recently even Rex Sinquefield’s generosity to show chess in all its glory in St. Louis. One must not and cannot ignore the impact a charismatic top player will also have to inspire them, such as Hikaru Nakamura, demonstrating that a homegrown talent can perfectly well compete with the very best if the talent and work are there.

Awonder Liang playing in the World Youth Boys under-12 in 2015

In the past few years, the top rising names have been Samuel Sevian, Jeffery Xiong, and Kayden Troff to name a few, with Sevian laying claim to the most recent records of US precociousness, as the youngest International Master ever in American history, and the youngest grandmaster.

Awonder Liang was the World Youth under-10 champion in 2013

Now, Sevian's first record has just fallen as IM-elect (awaiting ratification by FIDE) Awonder Liang has just broken the record for youngest International Master. Samuel Sevian had achieved the title in November 2013 when he was just 12 years and 10 months old, making his 2400 FIDE rating required after having already earned his three norms. On November 25, 2015, Awonder Liang made his third and final norm aged 12 years 7 months and 6 days, besting Sevian’s record by three months. It was achieved at the Dallas Fall FIDE tournament (Nov. 20-25, 2015) held in Dallas, Texas.

Last week, Awonder clinched his third and final norm. His next quest will be the grandmaster title.

The games of the UTD Fall Open in PGN

This wasn’t Awonder’s first record as he had also become the youngest US national master (rated 2200) at the age of 9 years, 11 months and 15 days, but it seems these records are but ephemeral affairs, and shortly before that had been broken by Maximillian Lu, aged 9 years, 11 months and 2 days, breaking it by 13 days. This was reported on in the New York Post.

No sooner is one record made than another is broken

For Max’s parents, supporting their son’s interest is not much different from what soccer moms and dads do, traveling from one competition to the next.

“We didn’t plan anything out,” said his father, David Lu. “It just sort of happened.”

An adult’s perspective also makes a difference. Lu said he helps his son handle what he calls the “psychological aspects” of chess, or maintaining a balance “between seeming mentally tough between losing a game and coming back to play another game.”

If approached the wrong way, competitive chess can be a “high-pressure thing,” David Lu said.

Click to read the complete article

All photos by Reint Dykema

Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications.
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anon1dff anon1dff 12/5/2015 07:54
I checked Awonder Liang's FIDE rating history. It seems that at least by August 2014, Awonder also had the k15 rating system for all of his tournaments up to that point (rated 2327 FIDE). After that, his rating k factors varies due to FIDE's new policy that has nothing to do with the boy. So, to be accurate, only 73 of his 2400 FIDE points (or 3.04%) required for an IM title was affected by the different k factors. If interested, one can easily re-rate all of Awonder's tournaments after Sept. 2014 to see how it would turn out.
Carlsen and "the others Naka, Fabio etc" are all great players. They all played in multiple WYCC events and only Carlsen came with a silver medal (lost the gold on tie-break) while Awonder Liang has two WYCC gold medals. where are the oranges and the apples?
Every one is happy if Maximilian Lu is "a new hope" or "the great hope". On can label him as he please. I am all OK with that. I hope that he will be a real master in chess soon and prove that in open tournaments against strong oppositions outside his own chess club.

sartorius1 sartorius1 12/5/2015 02:11
Magnus reached 2400 ELO with K 15, so did the others Naka, Fabio etc. Awonder Liang reached 2400 with K-20. Let's not compare apples and oranges.... and still, Maximilian Lu is the great hope.
sartorius1 sartorius1 12/4/2015 05:40
Maximilian Lu has just become a new hope
anon1dff anon1dff 12/4/2015 05:21
digupagal : You may have an argument but please just list a few names that you think they are as good or close to be as good as Awonder Liang in chess by age. Please list their accomplishments and make some comparisons then come up your conclusion. Not just a vague feeling of how things might be or should be. Is Awonder the only hope for chess, of course not. But is he "the first among the equals" of his generation? Probably! Probably!!
digupagal digupagal 12/4/2015 12:19
I am just saying that there are many young talents out there, he is just one amongst them, he is not the only hope for chess. It is too early to say that he will reach the summit
anon1dff anon1dff 12/4/2015 11:27
In the UTDallas Fall FIDE Open where he earned his third and final IM norm, Awonder played against 7 GMs from 6 different countries. He scored 50% (2 wins, 3 draws and 2 losses). His performance rating in the event was 2519 FIDE. He even secured his norm with a round to spare. In the tournament immediately followed, The Dallas Chess Club FIDE Open, Awonder played against 3 GMs. He drew two and defeat the other. The kid's ability in chess is incredible and undeniable! And reportedly, he has achieved all these wonderful results with very limited backing.
anon1dff anon1dff 12/4/2015 11:12
digupapal: Yes, he lost two games in WYCC 2015 but if you try to avoid all drawing chances and play for a win in each and every game, the situation would be different. Just look what happened to Magnus Carlsen recently. Was he also " beaten by a low ranked player" badly and even a few times? What a single game or two can tell about one's playing strength? Especially in the kids event(s)? In the tournament Awonder achieved his final IM norm (Nov 20-25, 2015) and the event starting the next day (Nov 26-29, 2015) the 12 years old kid played against 10 GMs from seven different countries in 10 days. He scored 55% all together (3 wins, 5 draws and 2 losses)! Do you have an idea what that means?
digupagal digupagal 12/4/2015 06:54
Just look two reports down !! he was beaten by a low ranked player in World youth
MrL2014 MrL2014 12/4/2015 06:30
I've seen a lot reports about the youngest that got IM or GM title; how about the oldest that got the real IM/GM title (not honorary, those who got honorary titles were already strong a lot before they got the title)