Chess Prodigy: The 5 Youngest Players in Chess History to Reach Grandmaster

Abhimanyu Mishra, from Englishtown, New Jersey, has just become the youngest chess grandmaster ever. He got his final grandmaster norm at 12 years, 4 months, and 25 days.

Abhimanyu Mishra, youngest chess grandmaster ever

For the past 19 years, this record remained with Sergey Karjakin, who became a grandmaster at 12 years and 7 months.

This is a full three years sooner than the legendary Bobby Fischer, who became a grandmaster at 15 years, 6 months, and 1 day.

Considering he is the youngest chess grandmaster ever, it will come as no surprise that Abhi is also the youngest International Master ever. He earned the IM title when he was only 10 years old.

There can be little doubt we live in a time of chess riches! The free resources online and abundance of top-quality training material certainly help players progress rapidly in chess today.

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Becoming a chess grandmaster requires hard work as well as natural ability. There is nobody better than GM Danny Gormally to share a grandmaster perspective on the middlegame.

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How Do Other Notable Youngest Chess Grandmasters Compare

In 2004 Magnus Carlsen became the second-youngest grandmaster behind Sergei Karjakin. In less than eighteen years, he has dropped to eighth place on the youngest chess grandmasters list.

Wei Yi was the fifth-youngest chess grandmaster in 2013. Today in less than nine years, he is one place behind Magnus Carlsen at number nine.

Wesley So became the seventh youngest chess grandmaster in 2007. He has dropped twelve places in under fifteen years and is now barely in the top twenty list at number 19.

Another famous chess prodigy, Anish Giri, became a chess grandmaster at the age of 14 years, 7 months, and 2 days, in 2009. A difference of only about 2 years and 3 months between him and Abhi Mishra.

Yet despite this slight difference between them, Giri is in danger of dropping out of the top thirty youngest chess grandmasters. All within the space of a mere 12 years!

The 5 Youngest Chess Grandmasters Ever

It’s remarkable to think the difference in age between the youngest chess grandmaster and fifth youngest is less than six months!

Gukesh D., the third youngest, was only 17 days older than Sergei Karjakin, the second youngest when he got his GM norm.

Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu, fifth-youngest, was only 8 days older than Javokhir Sindarov, the fourth youngest. 

1.) GM Abhimanyu Mishra

Age: 12 years, 4 months, and 25 days

The youngest chess grandmaster ever is GM Abhimanyu Mishra
The Youngest Chess GM Ever is GM Abhimanyu Mishra

Despite being delayed by the pandemic, Abhi still shatters the record and becomes the youngest chess grandmaster by about 66 days. 

On his way to achieving this record, Abhi broke two other records along the way.

He became the youngest chess Master at 9 years and 2 months. He then became the youngest International Master at 10 years, 9 months, and 2 days.

Mishra earned his final norm on June 30th, 2021, at the Vezerkepzo GM Mix Tournament, in Budapest, Hungary.

Tamas Petenyi (2468) – Abhimanyu Mishra (2424), 5th Vezerkepzo GM 2021, 05/31/2021, Round 9, 0-1

2.) GM Sergey Karjakin

Age: 12 years, 7 months, 0 days

World Championship Candidates 2016: Chess Tactics
GM Sergei Karjakin World Championship Candidates 2016

Sergey Karjakin was World Rapid champion in 2012 and World Blitz champion in 2016. 

Sergey Karjakin has already challenged for the World Chess Championship. In 2016 he pushed Magnus Carlsen to the very brink in their match.

Magnus Carlsen fell behind after game eight, and it was his only victory in game ten that leveled the match. Winning the tie-breaker allowed Magnus to retain his title.

In the twelve-game match, Karjakin finished with a match score of +1 -1 =10. Holding your own against Magnus Carlsen in a 12 game match is an awe-inspiring performance.

3.) GM Gukesh Dommaraju

GukeshD 2019 Karlsruhe
Gukesh D. 2019

Age: 12 years, 7 months, 17 days

Gukesh D. became the second-youngest chess grandmaster at the time he earned his GM norm. He was only 17 days older than Sergey Karjakin when he became a grandmaster.

Despite narrowly missing out on beating Karjakin for first place as the youngest chess grandmaster, Gukesh D. is still India’s youngest chess grandmaster at this time.

Gukesh’s tournament victories started at a young age when he won the Under-9 Section of the Asian School Championship in 2015. 

Three years later, he won five gold medals at the 2018 Asian Youth Championships. Three in the individual competition and two in the team event. 

Gukesh D. showed his all-around ability at this event by winning in rapid, blitz, and classical time controls. 

This same year, 2018, Gukesh D. obtained his International Master title, and in January 2019, he became a grandmaster. 

D. Gukesh (2542) – Peter Lombaers (2383), Gibraltar Masters 2020, Round 4, 01/24/2020, 1-0

4.) GM Javokhir Sindarov

Age: 12 years, 10 months, 5 days

GM Javokhir Sindarov
GM Javokhir Sindarov

When he was awarded his grandmaster norm in October 2018, Javokhir Sindarov was the third youngest chess grandmaster. 

Coincidentally Javokhir earned his final GM norm in Budapest, Hungary, just like Abhimanyu Mishra. 

What is extremely impressive is Javokhir achieved all three GM norms in the same year – 2018.

The first was at the Alekhine Memorial in June. In September, at the World Junior Chess Championship, he obtained his second GM norm while reaching a rating of 2500 Elo. 

His third GM norm was obtained at the First Saturday tournament in October.  

Hard to imagine it was only in October 2017 that Javokhir received his International Masters title.

Another secret of the middlegame that is often overlooked is recognizing when it’s time to go all-in, when you need to burn your bridges to change the course of the game.

GM Danny Gormally believes this must-know middlegame knowledge is essential to helping you improve.

5.) GM Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu

Age: 12 years, 10 months, 13 days

The fifth youngest chess grandmaster ever was GM Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu
GM Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu

When he obtained his International Masters title, Prggnanandhaa Rameshbabu was the youngest to be awarded the title. 

His talent was on display early when he won the World Youth Chess Championships Under-8 title in 2013. Becoming a FIDE Master at the incredibly young age of 7!

Fittingly his first GM norm was obtained at the World Junior Chess Championship in 2017. In April 2018, he received his second GM norm at the Fischer Memorial in Greece.

Just over two months later, on June 23rd, 2018, he obtained his third GM norm in Italy.

Praggnanandhaa was the second youngest chess grandmaster, behind Karjakin, when he received his title in 2018.

Here Praggnanandhaa holds his own against Magnus Carlsen despite Magnus being ranked over 200 Elo higher!

Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa (2608) – Carlsen Magnus (2847), New In Chess Classic, Round 13, 04/26/2021, 1/2-1/2

Final Thoughts About the Youngest Chess Grandmasters

There can be no doubt if you make it onto the list of the top five youngest chess grandmasters ever, you are blessed with a lot of talent. 

However, this should not make us overlook the hard work that goes into forging this talent into a potent weapon at the chessboard. The world’s best all share a willingness to invest time and effort into reaching the top.

This is true of any profession or sport, so it’s hardly surprising chess is no exception to this rule!

Another significant factor to consider is the incredible sacrifices made by the families of these great chess players. Thanks to these sacrifices, we get treated to amazing games that enrich chess.

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