Friday, January 13, 2006

The top child chess prodigies of all time

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

Last year, we came out with a list of the youngest grandmasters in history and we are revising this list due to the entry of new names. Child prodigies are a well-known phenomenon in the game and the latest is from India, who got his first GM norm last Jan.6 with a performance rating of 2568 finishing 16th in a field of 106 players in the traditional Hastings tournament. Parimarjan Negi is only 12 years old, born Feb.

9 1993, and became the youngest International master in July last year.

The chess world always looked with great expectations on these gifted children. Some of them have become world champions, while a great number failed to achieve what was expected of them in adulthood.

We are, of course, familiar with our Wesley So, who is the current co-champion of the world in the 12 and under category. Also, Vietnam’s gold medalist in the last Southeast Asian games in Tagaytay City was Nguyen Ngoc Troung Son, who is only 15 years old.

CAPABLANCA. Famous child prodigies are Jose Raul Capablanca of Cuba and Samuel Reshevsky of the US, who were already good players at the age of 4.

Other well known child prodigies are Gary Kasparov, perhaps the strongest player ever in chess, Nigel Short, a challenger to Gary Kasparov in 1992, Gata Kamsky, who had an elo rating of 2650 at age 16; Michael Adams, who became a GM at 17; Luke Mcshane, who won the World under 10 at age 8; Josh Waitzkin, whose life was filmed in the movie “In search of Bobby Fischer’ and the girls Kateryna Lahno, who became the youngest WGM in history at 12 years and 4 months and Alexandra Kosteniuk, reputedly as beautiful as the young Elizabeth Taylor.

The rest of the list includes Francisco Vallejo Pons, who became a GM at age 16; Viswanathan Anand who is currently rated number 2 and a former world champion ;Mark Bluvstein who became an IM at 13 and GM at 16, Pentala Hrikrishna GM at 16; Anatoly Karpov who became GM at 18 and went on to become a great world champion; Joel Lautier of France, Gaston Needleman who competed in the last World Cup; Anton Taminshay who won World under 8 at age 7, Murugan Thiruchelvam the youngest English chess player with a rating at age 9 and who gained the respect of Garry Kasparov in a simultaneous exhibition.

MORPHY. The great Boris Spassky, whom Bobby Fischer beat in 1972 in the match of the century, was a true child prodigy and so was Paul Morphy, 1837-1884, who won 3-0 over Johann Lowenthal at age 12.

Peter Winston, born March 18,1958, was an American player and former US Junior champion who, after a poor performance in 1977, disappeared mysteriously and is presumed to have committed suicide.

The reasons why there have been younger titled players is because the number of grandmasters have increased tremendously over the years and the children have competed in a wide variety of national and international chess events.

In an article in Chessbase, Frederic Friedel have compiled the youngest ever grandmasters in chess and the year they became GM.

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