Abhimanyu Mishra becomes youngest chess Grandmaster at 12 years, four months, 25 days, breaking Sergey Karjakin’s 19-year record

Published : July 01, 2021 16:58 IST

Abhimanyu Mishra. Photo: THE HINDU ARCHIVES

Nineteen years after Russian Grandmaster Sergey Karjakin created a sensation by becoming the youngest chess grandmaster ever at 12 years and seven months on August 12, 2002, a new prodigy, Abhimanyu Mishra of the United States, broke the record on June 30, by becoming a Grandmaster at 12 years four months and 25 days. To attain the title of Grandmaster (GM) a player has to complete three GM norms and an Elo rating of at least 2500.

Having already scored his first and second GM norms in April and May this year, Mishra beat 15-year-old Indian Grandmaster Leon Luke Mendonca in Budapest to win his third GM norm on June 30. Born on February 5, 2009, in New Jersey, Mishra was taught the moves of chess when he was still a toddler. By the time he was 10 years and nine months, he was the youngest International Master (IM) in chess history. Until then Indian GM R. Praggnanandhaa held the distinction of being the youngest IM ever at 10 years and 10 months. Praggnanandhaa had also narrowly missed becoming the youngest GM in history, when he won his third norm in June 2018, at the age of 12 years 10 months. The following year another Indian GM, Gukesh D. missed becoming the youngest ever GM by 17 days.

Tactically very strong

Celebrated Grandmaster from India, Surya Shekhar Ganguly, speaking to Frontline, said: “Abhi’s (Abhimanyu Mishra) achievement is huge. A number of players like Gukesh and Praggnananda came very close; and the new record must not take away what they have accomplished either. They are all equally gifted players.” Ganguly had the opportunity to train Mishra at the ProChess Training programme, an online chess training facility he set up in January this year along with fellow GMs R.B. Ramesh and Magesh Chandran Panchanathan.

Ganguly feels that Mishra’s greatest strength is his tactical power. “He can adapt to any situation very quickly, has very good flexibility of mind, and is very sharp. At ProChess we look at all aspects of the game, and focus particularly on the middlegame and the endgame. Abhi’s tactical sight is very strong,” said Ganguly. He feels it is essential for Mishra to continue playing and training at the highest level. “What is most important is playing in good tournaments. Becoming the youngest Grandmaster certainly opens many doors and he will be getting invitations at every strong event from now on. The more he competes with players who are much stronger than him, the more he will improve faster,” said Ganguly, who was a Second of former world champion Vishwanathan Anand.

Speaking about Mishra’s achievement and also losing the distinction of being the youngest GM in the history of the game, Sergey Karjakin told Chess.com, “Somehow I am quite philosophic about this because I felt like it has been almost 20 years and it is really too much! It had to be broken. Sooner rather than later I was sure that it will happen. I was completely sure that one of the Indian guys would do it much earlier. Somehow, I was very lucky that it didn't happen. Yes, I am a little sad that I lost the record, I don't want to lie, but at the same time I can only congratulate him and it's no problem. I hope that he will go on to become one of the top chess players and it will be just a nice start to his big career. I wish him all the best.” Karjakin had won the World Rapid Chess championship in 2012, the World Blitz Chess championship in 2016, and the same year had unsuccessfully challenged reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen for the World Chess Championship crown.

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