BOBBY Fischer became a grandmaster at the age of 15 years 6 months and one day in 1958 and was a phenomenon then. He dominated his contemporaries to an extent never seen before or since.
The record stood for a long 33 years and was at last broken in 1991 by Judit Polgar, who became a GM at the age of 15 years 4 months and 28 days.
Since then, 32 players have become GMs at a younger age. The main reason is the advent of chess computers, which are rated at more than 3300 or more than 400 points over the highest-rated player now. Training is easily available using an ordinary PC .
Also, the popularity of chess has improved by leaps and bounds as the number of adherents worldwide has increased to more than 700 million compared to just 600 million over a decade ago. The increase has been mostly among the very young due to Chess in Schools.
There are also many more tournaments now where one can get a GM norm and there are lots of training materials available.
Among the very young who are expected to dominate the chess scene ,aside from World Champion Magnus Carlsen, are Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura, Wesley So and Anish Giri, who are all in their 20s.
Hikaru Nakamura pointed to Caruana as a player who--if he reaches his full potential--could take the title away from Carlsen down the line. Nakamura himself is now rated in the 2800s. Wesley is improving from tournament to tournament . Giri is a terror at the board, having participated in several major invitational tournaments and acquitting himself well over the years.
But this article is not about them. It is about five new up and coming players who have grabbed the attention of everybody.
China’s rise in the world of chess has been meteoric ever since the turn of the millennium. China is a powerhouse and in fact won the gold medal in the last Olympiad in Norway..
The Chinese Chess Championship is currently regarded as one of the most competitive events in the world.
So when 16-year-old Grandmaster Wei Yi won the Chinese Championship, it is a testament to his unusual talent.
Wei became GM at the age of 13 years, 8 months and 23 days, the youngest grandmaster in the world at that time, and the fourth youngest in history. He also became the youngest to reach the 2700 barrier and is now at 2721, No. 30 in the world.
Fourteen-year-old IM Jeffery Xiong shocked the field at the 2015 Chicago Open, finishing clear first with 7.0/9, ahead of several strong grandmasters. It was held last May 21-25, in Wheeling, Illinois. More than 600 participants gathered at the Westin Chicago North Shore Hotel, including no fewer than 24 grandmasters and 18 masters.
The top seeds were GMs Lazaro Bruzon (Cuba), Gata Kamsky(USA), Ilya Nyzhnyk (Ukraine) and Daniel Naroditsky (USA). Well-known grandmasters Boris Avrukh (Israel) and Bartek Macieja (Poland) also played, and the world’s youngest GM, Sam Sevian (USA).
Two young players who may be playing for the World Championship in a decade or so are Russian Ilya Makoveev and Uzbek Nodirbek Abdusattorov. Makoveev recently turned nine and has won European and World titles in his age group, often with a perfect score!
Nodirbek Abdusattorov of Uzbekistan, at the age of only nine, defeated two grandmasters in the Tashkent Open May last year (Andrey Zhigalko 2600 and Rustam Khusnutdinov 2495), making the 2012 World Youth U8 Champion his country’s best hope for a potential World Champion. He is the strongest nine-year-old ever and is already rated over 2400!
Carissa Yip, 11, is America’s youngest female chess master and a future women’s champion. She also won over GM Alexander Ivanov 2545 in the New England Open last year.