A schoolboy chess prodigy has broken a long-standing record to become the youngest grandmaster in history. Abhimanyu Mishra, from New Jersey, scooped the prestigious title at the age of just 12 years, four months and 25 days.
The youngster had been in a race against time before the opportunity to break the record passed forever.
As he chased the title, Mishra found his attempt hampered by tournaments around the world being cancelled because of Covid-19.
He and his family were eventually forced to relocate to Hungary for several months to find events with the strength of opposition needed to qualify.
Mishra needed three grandmaster “norms” – awarded for high-level performances in elite events – and scored two back-to-back.
But with time running out and just one more chance to get a third, Mishra finally rewrote history with a penultimate round win over the Indian Grandmaster Leon Mendonca at the Vezerkepzo GM Mix in Budapest.
Mishra said: “The match against Leon was tough but a mistake from his end was all that I needed to cross the landmark. I feel just relieved and happy to be able to achieve this feat.”
The youngster, a pupil of 13th world chess champion Garry Kasparov, had already achieved the other criteria of crossing the required 2500 Elo rating barrier.
Mishra has been breaking chess records since the age of seven when he became the United States Chess Federation’s youngest Expert.
He became the youngest National Master as a nine-year-old and then at 10 years, nine months and 20 days became the youngest ever International Master, the rank just below Grandmaster.
It is the Grandmaster record, however, that is the game’s Holy Grail.
The previous record had stood for 19 years after it was last broken by then-Ukrainian Grandmaster Sergey Karjakin.
Karjakin secured the grandmaster title at the age of 12 years and seven months and went on to unsuccessfully challenge Magnus Carlsen for the world title in 2016, representing Russia.
Speaking about losing the honour, Karjakin told Chess.com: “Somehow I am quite philosophic about this because I felt like it has been almost 20 years and it is really too much! It had to be broken. Sooner or later I was sure that it will happen. I was completely sure that one of the Indian guys would do it much earlier. Somehow I was very lucky that it didn’t happen.
“Yes, I am a little sad that I lost the record, I don’t want to lie, but at the same time I can only congratulate him and it’s no problem. I hope that he will go on to become one of the top chess players and it will be just a nice start to his big career. I wish him all the best."