Abhimanyu Mishra started playing chess when he was just 2. Now, at the age of 12, he has broken one of the oldest records in the game to become the youngest grandmaster in history.
The youngster, who is from New Jersey, broke a record held by the Russian former chess prodigy Sergey Karjakin, who earned the title in 2002 at the age of 12 years and seven months. Abhimanyu earned the title at 12 years, four months and 25 days on Wednesday at an event in Budapest.
To become a grandmaster in chess, a player must achieve three grandmaster norms – an award given for a high level of performance in a chess tournament, according to CNN. Players also have to achieve a 2500 Elo rating given by the World Chess Federation or the Federation Internationale des Echecs. Popularly known by the acronym Fide, the body governs the rankings of international chess competitions.
“Finally checkmated the biggest opponent (ongoing pandemic ) which stopped me for 14 months. Thanks everybody for all your love and support. Looking forward for World cup,” Abhimanyu posted on Twitter.
The youngster began playing chess at two-and-a-half and became the youngest US expert when he was seven.
Karjakin, who is now 31, told The Guardian he was a little sad that he had lost the record, but wanted to congratulate Abhimanyu.
“I am quite philosophical about this because it has been almost 20 years. It had to be broken sooner or later. I was sure one of the Indian guys would do it much earlier, and I was lucky that it didn’t happen,” he said. “I hope that he will go on to be one of the top chess players and that it will be a nice start to his big career.”
Abhimanyu was introduced to chess by his parents, who are originally from India.
“When he was two years old, we brought him a 40-piece jigsaw puzzle. While he would also start chess six months later, he would solve a 300-piece jigsaw puzzle in three hours time at five. At that time, we never thought he would become the youngest grandmaster in the world,” his mother, Swati Mishra, told Indian Express.
The youngster and his father, Hemant Mishra, have been spending the past 80 days in Budapest competing in local tournaments.
Abhimanyu said he idolises current world champion Magnus Carlsen and Indian chess great Vishwanathan Anand.
“How Carlsen is dominating the world is simply amazing. I also wish to meet Anand sir and I remember one of his games against Levon Aronian where he played with black and defeated him. I often watch that game,” he told the Indian Express.
Abhimanyu will now travel to the 206-player World Cup in Sochi starting on July 10, where he has been given a wildcard entry by Fide.