FIDE has confirmed Awonder Liang’s grandmaster title by written resolution. This makes the 14-year-old American the 10th youngest grandmaster of all time, and the youngest in the world today.
Headline photo from the Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival by Maria Emelianova.
Liang achieved his three grandmaster norms in the Continental Championship in San Salvador in 2016 and in the span of two weeks in the Spring Chess Classic in St. Louis and the Chicago Open, both in May of 2017. The official date that Liang earned his titled should be May 29 (as we understand it), the day the Chicago Open concluded.
Liang’s newest record is one of many in his short career. He is the youngest USCF expert ever, was the youngest master ever, was the youngest international master ever, and is the youngest player ever to have defeated an international master and a grandmaster.
At the second Millionaire Chess Open 2015. Photo: Mike Klein.
Recently, Liang also won the U.S. Junior Championship (which FM Mike Klein covered here) and earned his spot at the next U.S. Championship where he will face his fiercest opposition ever, GMs Hikaru Nakamura, Wesley So, and Fabiano Caruana. Could Liang also be the youngest ever person to defeat a top-10 player?
Despite these accolades, the future remains open for Liang, who refused to commit his life to chess just yet.
“I love chess,” he said. “I will keep going for sure. But will I be a full-time chess player for the rest of my life? It is still too young for me to make a decision like that.”
Liang Defeats An International Master
At the age of only eight years and 118 days, Liang won this game against IM Daniel Fernandez, himself a former U.S. junior champion.
Liang Defeats A Grandmaster
GM Larry Kaufman was the unfortunate victim of Liang’s famous win when the latter was nine years and 111 days old. Kaufman is most famous for his work programming the powerful chess engine Komodo. The game went according to script until a moment of incaution allowed Liang to land a tactic.
Liang Defeats The Author
I had the pleasure of playing Awonder at the 2015 World Open in the first round. Liang was already well-known to me and was favored in the game by hundreds of rating points. It’s definitely not the worst game I’ve have ever played, but I crumpled quickly as Liang brought pressure on my queenside. Liang made only a couple of slight inaccuracies, otherwise selecting nearly all of the computer’s best moves.
I was particularly struck by Liang’s at-the-board work ethic. I don’t believe he left the board once during the game. Throughout he evinced a relentless focus and attention to the board, which is well captured in Emelianova’s and Klein’s photos.
I made these notes after the tournament.
Youngest Grandmasters in History
|1.||Sergey Karjakin||Ukraine||12 years, 7 months, 0 days|
|2.||Parimarjan Negi||India||13 years, 4 months, 22 days|
|3.||Magnus Carlsen||Norway||13 years, 4 months, 27 days|
|4.||Wei Yi||China||13 years, 8 months, 23 days|
|5.||Bu Xiangzhi||China||13 years, 10 months, 13 days|
|6.||Samuel Sevian||United States||13 years, 10 months, 27 days|
|7.||Richard Rapport||Hungary||13 years, 11 months, 6 days|
|8.||Teimour Radjabov||Azerbaijan||14 years, 0 months, 14 days|
|9.||Ruslan Ponomariov||Ukraine||14 years, 0 months, 17 days|
|10.||Awonder Liang||United States||14 years, 1 month, 20 days|
|11.||Wesley So||Philippines||14 years, 1 month, 28 days|
|12.||Etienne Bacrot||France||14 years, 2 months, 0 days|
|13.||Illya Nyzhnyk||Ukraine||14 years, 3 months, 2 days|
|14.||Maxime Vachier-Lagrave||France||14 years, 4 months, 0 days|
|15.||Peter Leko||Hungary||14 years, 4 months, 22 days|
|16.||Jorge Cori||Peru||14 years, 5 months, 15 days|
|17.||Hou Yifan||China||14 years, 6 months, 16 days|
|18.||Jeffery Xiong||United States||14 years, 6 months, 25 days|
|19.||Anish Giri||Russia||14 years, 7 months, 2 days|
|20.||Yuriy Kuzubov||Ukraine||14 years, 7 months, 12 days|
|21.||Bogdan Daniel Deac||Romania||14 years, 7 months, 27 days|
|22.||Dariusz Swiercz||Poland||14 years, 7 months, 29 days|
|23.||Aryan Chopra||India||14 years, 9 months, 3 days|
|24.||Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son||Vietnam||14 years, 10 months, 0 days|
|25.||Daniil Dubov||Russia||14 years, 11 months, 14 days|
|26.||Ray Robson||United States||14 years, 11 months, 16 days|
|27.||Fabiano Caruana||Italy||14 years, 11 months, 20 days|
|28.||Yu Yangyi||China||14 years, 11 months, 23 days|