Abhimanyu Mishra Becomes Youngest Grandmaster In Chess History
[July 2, 2021: Peter Doggers]
International Master Abhimanyu Mishra became the youngest chess grandmaster in history today. The 12-year-old player from New Jersey scored his third GM norm in Budapest, having already crossed the required 2500 Elo rating barrier.
Mishra (often called "Abhi") broke GM Sergey Karjakin's record that has stood for 19 years. On August 12, 2002, Karjakin, a world championship challenger in 2016, secured the grandmaster title at the age of 12 years and seven months. Mishra, born on February 5, 2009, took 12 years, four months, and 25 days to obtain the highest title in chess.
Karjakin spoke about Mishra:
"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 or 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."
Mishra spent several months in Budapest, Hungary playing back-to-back tournaments, chasing the title and the record. He scored both his first and second GM norms there, at the April Vezerkepzo tournament and the May 2021 First Saturday tournament, both round-robins of 10 players specially set up for scoring norms.
He couldn't immediately follow it up in his next three tournaments in the Hungarian capital, which basically started every two weeks: the May and June Vezerkepzo and the June First Saturday round-robins, held in the same playing hall.
However, in his final attempt this month, he succeeded. As several chess players stayed in Budapest for this long period, the organizers created one last event, this time a Swiss group called the Vezerkepzo GM Mix. Having been invited to the FIDE World Cup in Sochi, Mishra knew this was going to be his last chance before leaving Hungary.
He was well on his way to his third GM norm after starting with 5/6, but then Mishra lost in round seven to the Slovak GM Milan Pacher. He then bounced back with a win against the Hungarian FM Bence Leszko.
Today, Mishra won the biggest game of his short but sweet career so far. He defeated the 15-year-old Indian GM Leon Luke Mendonca with the black pieces, securing a performance rating higher than 2600 over nine rounds, which constitutes a GM norm.
Mishra's coach, GM Arun Prasad, had this to say: "My congratulations to Abhi for this great achievement. He fully deserves this success, as I have seen all of his hard work firsthand. His father also deserves applause for all of the sacrifices he has made for Abhi to reach this milestone. Personally, this is a big moment to see my student become a GM!"
Another prodigy came close to beating Karjakin's record but came up short: GM Gukesh D. got the title aged 12 years, seven months, and 17 days, which was 17 days later than Karjakin. Only five players in history managed to get the title before their 13th birthday.
Mishra is definitely one of the biggest talents of his generation, as he has shown today. Karjakin eventually became a contender for the world title. Whether Mishra has it in him to become world champion one day will become clear in the years to come.
Like these kind of feel good stories? Get the Brighter Side of News' newsletter.