Abhimanyu Mishra became the world’s youngest grandmaster last month, at 12 years and 4 months old. The boy from New Jersey achieved the milestone by scoring 7/9 at the Vezerkepzo GM Mix event in Budapest last month. In doing so, he has broken the record set almost 20 years ago by Sergey Karjakin, who became a grandmaster at 12 years and 7 months old, and went on to challenge Magnus Carlsen for the World Championship in 2016.
His father, Hemant Mishra, made it clear that they treated breaking this record as an end in itself, which has required extraordinary dedication and persistence. Along the way, Mishra suffered a run of 35 games without a win — an exacting experience for any player.
Earning the grandmaster title requires an international rating over the 2500 level, along with (usually) three tournament performances (known as ‘grandmaster norms’) at a higher level, using a formula based on the opponents’ international ratings. But opportunities to compete in over-the-board tournaments have been severely curtailed since the start of the pandemic. In pursuit of his goal, Mishra had been playing in Hungary almost nonstop since April, in a series of tournaments tailored to those on the hunt for titles.
Abhimanyu Mishra–Attila Czebe
Budapest, May 2021 (see diagram 1)
Black’s position is passive, but apparently sturdy. A clever pawn sacrifice facilitates a breakthrough. 42 h5! Rxh5 43 Rxh5 Rxh5 44 Rxh5 gxh5 45 Qf5 Kc8 46 Qe6 Qxe6 No better was 46…Qg6 47 Nf5. 47 dxe6 Nb8 48 Nf5 Nc6 49 Nc3! Grabbing the pawn on d6 would allow the exchange of the miserable bishop on f8. 49…Ne7 50 Nd5 Nxf5 51 exf5 Bg7 52 Kb2 There is no defence against this king’s leisurely stroll toward the kingside, so Black resigns
Leon Luke Mendonca–Abhimanyu Mishra
Budapest, June 2021 (see diagram 2)
The key moment from the game which earned Mishra the title. A pawn down, Black has a surprising resource: 48…Nf3+! 49 gxf3 The decisive mistake. White had to play 49 Kf4 Nxg5 50 Kxg5 Kxe3 51 b4 Kf2 52 b5 with a likely draw in the queen ending which follows. 49…exf3 50 Bh4 g5 A decisive gain of tempo. 51 Bf2 51 Bg3 h4 is no better. 51…Ke2 52 b4 Kxf2 53 b5 Kxe3 54 b6 f2 55 b7 f1=Q The sting in the tail is that 56 b8=Q Qf4+ wins with a skewer, so White resigns
Chess Fest is a free chess festival taking place in central London, 16-18 July. The program includes a game of ‘human chess’ played in Trafalgar Square on 18 July, inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice Through the Looking Glass. For more details, visit chess-fest.com.