Abhimanyu Mishra Becomes Youngest Grandmaster in Chess History at Age 12

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJune 30, 2021

KYIV, UKRAINE - JANUARY 28, 2021 - Snow covers a chessboard with chess pieces during the launch of the second stage of the project carried out by the Embassy of the State of Israel in Ukraine to develop the Ukraine - the Friendship Park of Israel landscape park on Tu BiShvat, Kyiv, capital of Ukraine. - PHOTOGRAPH BY Ukrinform / Barcroft Studios / Future Publishing (Photo credit should read Hennadii Minchenko/ Ukrinform/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Photo credit should read Hennadii Minchenko/ Ukrinform/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

What were you doing at 12 years of age? Because Abhimanyu Mishra just became the youngest chess grandmaster in history. 

The New Jersey resident accomplished the incredible feat on Wednesday in Budapest at 12 years, 4 months and 25 days of age, according to ESPN's Susan Ninan. Sergey Karjakin was the previous youngest grandmaster at 12 years and seven months, a record he held for 19 years.

To accomplish the feat, Ninan noted that Mishra had to "score three [grandmaster] norms and touch an Elo rating of 2500 and above. The norms can be awarded only in tournaments where at least 50 percent of the opponents are titleholders, and at least one-third of them GMs."

Mishra cleared the final hurdle with his victory over Indian grandmaster Leon Mendonca at the Vezerkepzo GM mix on Wednesday.

To put the accomplishment in further perspective, the world of competitive chess can become pretty cutthroat at the highest levels, a lesson Mishra learned as a young child, per Ninan:

"In a winning position, with a pawn up at the New Jersey Open, a 5.5-year-old Abhimanyu once found himself struggling to stay awake at the board past midnight. 'His opponent obviously figured there's no way a kid that young can go on 'til so late so he just stalled and didn't play a move for a whole hour,' [his father] Hemant says, looking back. 'Abhimanyu kind of wanted the torment to end, so he offered a draw. His opponent turned it down and was like, 'No way, I'm winning this!'"

Mishra plays up to 12 hours of chess a day to practice, has read numerous books on the game, receives coaching support from fellow grandmasters Arun Prasad and Magesh Chandran and was invited to the Kasparov Chess Foundation for a three-day assessment in 2018. 

He was selected to the foundation's Young Stars program, through which he has received feedback from the legendary Garry Kasparov twice a year. Kasparov was the top-ranked player in the world from 1984 until 2005, when he retired from professional play.

It's a legacy that Mishra will one day hope to better. So far, so good. 


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