Indian-origin American Abhimanyu Mishra becomes youngest ever chess Grandmaster
After months of uncertainty induced by the pandemic, together with a cash-crunch travelling around the world in these difficult times, Indian-origin American Abhimanyu Mishra has become the youngest-ever chess Grandmaster in the world.
At 12 years, four months and 25 days, he obliterated the long-standing record held by Sergey Karjakin, who was 12 years and seven months old when he attained the title. Three years ago, India's R Praggnanandhaa had almost surpassed him, but missed the opportunity by a whisker. As did many assaults on the 19-year-old record until Abhimanyu's moment.
But Abhimanyu, after becoming the world's youngest International Master last year, chased his dream and achieved the feat at the Vezerkepzo GM Mix in Budapest, a tournament organised just to give him one final shot at the title, as several chess players stayed back due to travel restrictions. Abhimanyu has been in the Hungarian capital since April, in pursuit of the record. He had attained the first and second GM norms in April and May, but the third had seemed elusive with time catching up and fewer tournaments in the horizon. He had to wait till mid-July for another shot at the record, but for this tournament.
Those were angsty days for those around him. Like for GM Magesh Chandran, one of his coaches at the Kings and Queens Academy in New Jersey, where he polished his game as a quiet but eager child. 'We don't interact on a regular basis, but I keep a regular tab on him, follow each of his games and sometimes chip in with some advice whenever he is here. The sooner the better it would be for him and us. Once he comes back, we hope to catch up,' Chandran had told this paper last month.
Abhimanyu was just two-and-a-half-years old when his father Hemant, who works in data management, introduced him to chess. By five, he was beating his father and competing in local tournaments, where he started defeating players as old as his father. Another coach Arun Prasad remembers another incident. 'He was just nine when he was pitted against a veteran 70-year-old opponent. He beat him in no time. I thought I was watching history in the making. I soon realised he’s not normal - in a great way. He remembers everything he sees. He remembers moves from games in 2014 and 2015. His mind absorbs everything.'
Abhimanyu's fame began to spread and he started travelling when he was barely seven, the age at which he became the youngest national champion before becoming the youngest National Master in the US at the age of nine.
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