Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION


  • Print

CHINESE teenager Wei Yi is the latest player to achieve the international grandmaster title at an amazingly young age: 13 years, eight months and 23 days.

That makes him the fourth youngest player in the history of the modern game to earn the distinction. Such a phenomenal performance always raises expectations and inevitably leads to the question: is he on the path to the world championship?

For some guidance, let's have a look at the three players in history who were even younger when they won the coveted title.

We'll start with the player in the No. 3 spot, Magnus Carlsen. He beat Yi to the punch by about four months. Carlsen, now 22, is the highest rated player in the world, and widely seen as the next world champion.

Carlsen learned chess at the age of five, which is typical for many prodigies. Once he started playing seriously, he got stronger and stronger, a process that has never stopped. He now holds the highest rating in the history of the game.

The story is somewhat different for Parimarjan Negi, who was five days younger than Carlsen when he got his GM title. Though he too steadily improved in the years after winning the title, he seems to have hit a plateau. His current rating of 2639 puts him 130th on the world rating list, and he is not considered a serious contender in any top-level tournament.

The all-time youngest grandmaster is Sergey Karjakin, who achieved the feat at the incredible age of 12 years and seven months, a full nine months ahead of Negi and Carlsen. Like Carlsen, Karjakin has climbed higher and higher in strength, and it still isn't clear where that potential might lead. His current rating of 2786 places him sixth in the world.

The ability of children to be strong at chess at an early age isn't hard to explain. Chess requires good memory and calculating powers, which seem to come naturally to some people. Like music and mathematics, two other fields which produce prodigies, chess provides a platform for kids who come equipped with those natural gifts to excel.

But then the hard work has to kick in. No matter how naturally talented you are, you have to devote countless hours to study, memorization, training and synthesis of opening, middlegame and endgame theory. There are also lessons to be learned about the psychological nature of the game and how that affects you and your opponent.

Some prodigies take on the serious work, while others move on to other pursuits. Those prodigies who become grandmasters are in a category of their own, but even there the difference between average and great is connected to effort. The very best players in just about any game are always a combination of incredible, sometimes unexplainable natural talent, and serious hard slogging.

-- -- --

This week's problem: White to move and draw (Andersen). Solution to last problem: White wins with 1.Qe3 (threatening Kc3) f4 2.Qf2 d8Q 3.Kc3 with mate to follow.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 9, 2013 E11

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Jets This Week: Quarter Season Analysis

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • JOE.BRYKSA@FREEPRESS.MB.CA Local-(Standup photo)- Humming Around- A female ruby -throated hummingbird fly's through the bee bomb  flowers Friday at the Assiniboine Park English Garden- Nectar from flowers are their main source of food. Hummingbirds wings can beat as fast as 75x times second. Better get a glimpse of them soon the birds fly far south for the winter - from Mexico to South America- JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS- Sept 10, 2009
  • A Great Horned Owl that was caught up in some soccer nets in Shamrock Park in Southdale on November 16th was rehabilitated and returned to the the city park behind Shamrock School and released this afternoon. Sequence of the release. December 4, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos


Are you concerned about the death of a seal at the Assiniboine Park Zoo?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google