Will he break the world record?

by Sagar Shah
5/8/2021 – He learnt the rules of chess when he was two and a half years old. He became the youngest national expert at the age of seven, and the youngest National Master in the US at the age of nine. In late 2019, he beat R. Praggnanandhaa's record of becoming the youngest IM ever. Meet Abhimanyu Mishra, a youngster who lives in New Jersey, USA. Abhimanyu is an amazing talent and is now going after the record of becoming the youngest GM in history. In spite of the Covid pandemic. And you can help him achieve his goal!

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Before we come to the story here are some statistics. Remember when, in 1958, Bobby Fischer became the youngest grandmaster in history? It happened when he was 15 years, six months and one day old – and the world marvelled. In the meantime at least 50 super-talents have beaten Fischer's record, including two female players (Hou Yifan, number 23 on the list, and Judit Polgar, number 48). Fischer is currently recorded as number 51. We published a story, Chess prodigies and mini-GMs update, when Pragg made his title in 2018. Here are the top 30 from that list, updated with Raunak Sadhwani, who gained his title a year later.

Nr Name Nat y m d born GM
1
Sergey Karjakin UKR 12 7 0 1990 2002
2
Dommaraju Gukesh IND 12 7 17 2006 2019
3
Javokhir Sindarov UZB 12 10 10 2005 2018
4
IND 12 10 13 2005 2018
5
Nodirbek Abdusattorov UZB 13 1 11 2004 2017
6
Parimarjan Negi IND 13 4 22 1993 2006
7
Magnus Carlsen NOR 13 4 27 1990 2004
8
Wei Yi CHN 13 8 23 1999 2013
9
Raunak Sadhwani IND 13 9 28 2005 2019
10
Bu Xiangzhi CHN 13 10 13 1985 1999
11
Samuel Sevian USA 13 10 27 2000 2014
12
Richard Rapport HUN 13 11 15 1996 2010
13
Teimour Radjabov AZE 14 0 14 1987 2001
14
Ruslan Ponomariov UKR 14 0 17 1983 1997
15
Nihal Sarin IND 14 1 1 2004 2018
16
Awonder Liang USA 14 1 20 2003 2017
17
Wesley So PHI 14 1 28 1993 2007
18
Etienne Bacrot FRA 14 2 0 1983 1997
19
Illya Nyzhnyk UKR 14 3 2 1996 2010
20
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave FRA 14 4 0 1990 2005
21
Peter Leko HUN 14 4 22 1979 1994
22
Jorge Cori PER 14 5 15 1995 2009
23
Hou Yifan CHN 14 6 2 1994 2008
24
Jeffery Xiong USA 14 6 25 2000 2014
25
Anish Giri RUS 14 7 2 1994 2009
26
Yuriy Kuzubov UKR 14 7 12 1990 2004
27
Bogdan Daniel Deac ROM 14 7 27 2001 2016
28
Dariusz Swiercz POL 14 7 29 1994 2009
29
Alireza Firouzja IRN 14 8 2 2003 2018
30
Aryan Chopra IND 14 9 3 2001 2016

Now there is a new candidate for place one – and you can help him achieve his goal. The boy who is racing to break Karjakin's youngest GM record is Abhimanyu Mishra.

Look at that intensity | Photo: David Llada

Abhimanyu learnt the rules of chess when he was two and a half years old. He became the youngest national expert at the age of 7 years and 6 months, the youngest National Master in the US at the age of nine years and two months. In late 2019, he beat R. Praggnanandhaa's record of becoming the youngest IM in the world at the age of 10 years, 9 months and 3 days. The youngster who lives in New Jersey, USA. He is an amazing talent and is now going after the record of becoming the world's youngest GM – ever. 

But wait! What about the Covid19 pandemic? Nothing, absolutely nothing, stands in between Abhimanyu and his goals! Check out this amazing story. 

Will Abhimanyu Mishra become the youngest GM in the world?

When Abhimanyu Mishra eclipsed Praggnanandhaa's record of the youngest International Master by 17 days, we knew the boy was special. Abhimanyu achieved the feat in late 2019 and had another 1 year and 9 months to break Karjakin's record of becoming the youngest GM in the world. Judging by Abhimanyu's strength and the way he was improving, this feat seemed achievable. 

Back in 2016, Abhimanyu had already made up his mind - "I want to be the youngest grandmaster and one day become World Champion!" (Image Credit: Al Lawrence, "Faces Across the Board," September 2016 Chess Life magazine.) But the Corona virus forced the lad to sit at home, as time ticked by. For close to a year Abhimanyu waited patiently at his home in New Jersey, USA. He prepared meticulously and kept himself ready for the moment when things would return to normalcy and over the board tournaments would begin.

For a boy who was brought up on munching pawns and pieces since the age of two and a half years – the picture is of him with his dad, Hemant Mishra – this was an extremely difficult period.

In December 2020, Abhimanyu began playing some tournaments in the USA. With a rating of 2338 and no GM norms in hand, the aim of breaking Karjakin's record of becoming a GM by the age of 12 years and 7 months looked difficult. Being born on 9th of February 2009, Abhimanyu has time until 5th of September 2021 to achieve this feat of becoming the youngest GM in history.

The Thanksgiving CCCSA GM norm invitational in December helped him gain 18 Elo points, but the Winter CCCSA GM norm Invitational wasn't great. He lost 19 Elo points. In February he played a six round event at the Charlotte Masters and gained 16 Elo points. Before March 2021 began Abhimanyu had improved to an Elo of 2370! That's when the little boy decide to step on the gas.

Ahbimanyu's performance at the Spring 2021 CCCSA GM norm invitational was very strong. He scored 5.5/9 and missed out on his GM norm, but impressed everyone by gaining a whopping 37 rating points that pushed him to 2407 on the Elo scale. 

But more importantly he beat three extremely strong players in the event: GMs Vladimir Belous, Peter Prohaszka and IM Craig Hilby. Here are all three of Abhimanyu's wins from the GM norm event. But before we show them to you in a replay window here are three little quiz questions:

  • In Abhimanyu vs Belous White's next move is a typical idea in the Benko. It was impressive that Abhimanyu knew it. White to play and fight for an opening advantage.
     
  • In Prohaszka vs Abhimanyu White is attacking the pawn on c6. How did Abhimanyu solve his issues tactically? Hint: It's a subtle little move.
     
  • In Craig Hilby vs Abhimanyu White has just pushed his pawn to h5 and is going after Black's king. How did Abhimanyu respond to this?

You will find the answers in the annotated games:

 

Abhimanyu made it to the cover of the October 2020 issue of Chess Life magazine run by the US Chess Federation, which is one of the most widely read chess magazines in the world.

It was the end of March and Abhimanyu had crossed 2400. He still had six months left to break Karjakin's record of the youngest GM in the world, but it seemed unlikely now. Not only did he have to gain 92 more Elo points, he also had all his three GM norms left. Add to it the fact that there was a widespread fear of travelling due to Corona virus, things looked grim. But Abhimanyu and his family were not going to give up this fight easily! They packed their bags and got ready to travel to Europe where there were more tournaments happening and more chances to make norms. Talking about racing to the youngest GM title, father Hemant says,

"It is too big a goal and hence, we decided to take some calculated risks. We were eagerly and patiently waiting for the last 14 months and were training heavily and waiting for the over the board opportunities. Abhimanyu has been constantly working with GM Arun Prasad and GM Magesh Chandran and has recently enrolled in Pro Chess Training. All of these avenues have helped him become a stronger chess player. Considering the pandemic and very few tournaments in last 14 months, it is five times more difficult to achieve the youngest GM record and we were hopeful that God will at least give us few tournaments and we will fight till the last day. Everyone is afraid. But it was something that we were planning since a long time. I was the weakest link, a backward pawn, in this fight because of my weight. In order to handle any worst case scenarios I lost 45 pounds (20 kgs) in last 6 months. This will allow me to handle worst scenarios better. In the long run this record may not mean anything but I am sure if Abhimanyu can get it he will be super confident in taking up any challenges in his life. Nothing will be more complex than beating this record without many tournaments and amidst potential risk of life and for him playing with mask on for hours. I believe in God and I am happy to take this chance to play over the board events."

About the leave the comfort of home sweet home, the flight to Budapest, and during a game.

"There was much uncertainty in everything when we planned the trip here. Lockdown/curfew in Europe, ten day quarantine period in Hungary. Getting the letter from Hungarian consulate was not at all easy. The worst part was the negative PCR test requirement to board the flight (depending on the airline) and to do it once again while entering into a new country. No clear information was available and we were with customer calls for hours! We went for two PCR tests in last five days before the travel. Even after that there was a risk to not make it. Finally we decided to book one way flexible tickets to Hungary. I am very glad that Abhi made his first GM norm. It is all making sense now."

Playing entire tournaments with a mask on your face is not easy. But not play tournaments at all was even more painful! I have tracked his progress in Hungary in my report on ChessBase India, extensively, but here I am going to give you a summary.

  • Abhimanyu's performance in the 2nd Vezerkepzo GM (14-22nd April) was very solid. He gained 16 Elo points taking his live rating to 2423. The boy missed his GM norm by a whisker, but he had no time to dwell on the performance. 
  • The next tournament, the Vezerkepzo GM April 2021 began on the 24th of April. The opponents were almost the same as in the previous event and the boy now had a firm grasp of his opponents' playing style. He notched up one win after another, five in all to perform at an Elo of 2603 and score his first GM norm.

Masked players at the Hungarian events, Abhimanyu with his maiden GM norm!

Here are some of the games he played:

 

Second GM norm?

After two back to back events, one would have imagined that the little boy would take some rest. That was not the case! Abhimanyu immediately signed himself up for the 1st Saturday GM norm tournament from the 1st to the 11th of May 2021. Would he be too tired? Would he slow down? Well, as on 7th of May 2021, six rounds have been completed and look at the standings below.

Abhimanyu is crushing the tournament with a massive 5.5/6. What a performance! He began with four wins out of four games and then drew his fifth round and won his sixth game. He now has a live rating of 2467 and needs just 1.5/3 to score his second GM norm.

Rk. SNo     Name sex FED Rtg Bdld  TB1   TB2   TB3  Rp K rtg+/-
1 9
 
IM Mishra Abhimanyu   USA 2424   5,5 14,00 0,0 2783 10 21,5
2 8
 
IM Issa Rafat   JOR 2354   4,0 9,25 0,0 2495 10 11,4
3 4
 
FM Papp Levente   HUN 2394   3,5 10,50 0,0 2469 10 6,2
4 6
 
FM Bodi Tibor   HUN 2374   3,0 9,00 0,0 2485 20 15,0
5 1
 
GM Plat Vojtech   CZE 2556   3,0 5,50 0,0 2374 10 -14,1
6 5
 
GM Czebe Attila   HUN 2389   2,5 7,00 0,0 2344 10 -4,1
7 3
 
GM Pacher Milan   SVK 2437   2,5 4,50 0,0 2339 10 -8,4
8 7
 
GM Farago Ivan   HUN 2340   2,0 5,25 0,0 2246 10 -7,3
9 2
 
  Souhardo Basak   IND 2359   2,0 4,00 0,0 2290 20 -11,2
10 10
 
FM Seemann Jakub   POL 2288   1,0 3,00 0,0 2169 20 -14,2

A young boy and his father are on a mission – the mission is for Abhimanyu to become the youngest GM in history. The boy is on track, he has another four months left. All he needs is 33 Elo points and two GM norms. For now Hemant has planned a couple of more events in Hungary, and then they move to Serbia. Do you think Abhimanyu will break Karjakin's record in the days to come? I do not know if he will or not, but seeing the quality of his games, I can assure you that he is soon going to be one of the best players in the world of chess!

A call for help

By Hemant Mishra

We are heavily investing in Abhimanyu's chess. We have spent in the range of US $200,000 and almost run out of savings. My wife and I are IT professionals and work with a Data Management company. Following are the key expenses for which we have spent until now.

  1. All open big tournaments in USA. Played in most of these events in the last eight years. The total expense =  $40,000
  2. He got all his IM norms playing in closed GM norm invitational events. These are costly events with $800 entry fee + hotel + travel. He has played in many such events. The total expense = $25,000
  3. He has attended many elite camps by Gelfand, Kramnik, Aagaard, Chuchelov etc. The total expense = $20,000
  4. Other international trips to Greece, Brazil, Costa Rica, Canada and others should be easily in the range of $10,000
  5. He has been working with GM Arun Prasad for the last seven years, and there have been sessions almost every alternate day. The total expenses = $35,000
  6. Working with Chess Kings and Queens Academy for last eight years. The total expenses = $10,000
  7. Part of elite group in Prochess training. The total expenses = $250 per month.
  8. I got the powerful servers configured for him 64 core with 4 RTX2080. Total expense = $10,000.
  9. I learnt all things related to Neural Net and other engine's internals and work with him for up to 25 hours a week so that we are up to date with the recent developments.
  10. Books, software, online subscription etc. Total expense = $8,000
  11. Public schools are very strict in USA about attendance and there was no way to compete at the highest level while attending these schools. So I had to enroll him into a private school which is somewhat flexible and that helps him to play in more tournaments. Total expense = $25,000 for the last four years.

For the last one year, I started driving 1000 km each way to save on flight charges. He has just four more months to chase the youngest GM record. I request you to support Abhimanyu in his bid to become one of the best players in the world of chess.

Regards,
Hemant

This is your opportunity: you can contribute to supporting the project by donating to it now. Abhimanyu and his father will be LIVE on the ChessBase India channel on 12th of May 2021 at 8 p.m. IST, and you can interact with them.

In addition:


Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He is also a chartered accountant. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India website, the biggest chess news outlet in the country.

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