Benchmarks by Korchnoi

  • 64 years winning span in competitive closed chess tournaments from USSR Junior Championship 1947 to Suzdal (Botvinnik Veterans Mem) Rapid 2011, followed by further first prizes as individual best and team winner (Legends vs. CEG, Geneva) 2012 or winner in friendly matches vs. Uhlmann, Leipzig 2014 and vs. Taimanov, Lucerne 2015
  • More than 50 years winning span as National Champion (USSR 1960 to SUI 2011)
  • More than 40 years winning span of supertournaments from Hastings 1955/56 and Buenos Aires 1960, followed by frequent supertournament victories in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, up to Madrid 1995, Sarajevo (Bosna) 1998 and Biel 2001, clear first as a septenarian, all opponents being near forty to more than fifty years younger than Viktor Korchnoi
  • Longest winning span of 19 years at Wijk aan Zee from 1968 (first participation) & 1971 (second participation) to 1984 & 1987
  • About 2000 won games against major opponents (not counting simul exhibitions):
    Viktor Korchnoi is undoubtedly the player with the most wins against grandmasters in professional chess history
  • More than 220 victories in major chess tournament, match and team events
    (for full achievement with more details, see also the different categories of 1st Prizes chronology, major tournaments, prominent opponents and corresponding listings)

  • Top Five player for more than twenty years
  • Top Ten player for more than thirty years, consecutively from 1960 to 1990
  • Top Hundred player of the world for near sixty years
  • Candidate ten times (a cycle back then lasted three years), world record
  • Qualified in Candidate Cycles 1960-1963, 1966-1969, 1969-1972, 1972-1975, 1975-1978,
    1978-1981, 1981-1984, 1984-1987, 1987-1990, 1990-1993
  • Korchnoi played a world record of 251 games as a Candidate
  • Oldest Senior World Chess Champion ever (with 75 1/2 yrs)
  • Oldest National Champion ever (Switzerland 2011, at age of 80)
  • Viktor Korchnoi beats players from five player generations
    (from Levenfisch & Lilienthal to Carlsen & Caruana)
  • Viktor Korchnoi beats nine undisputed Chess World Champions
    (including all from Botvinnik to Kasparov) in classical chess

>> At the age of 50, Korchnoi was still number two (in the FIDE ELO list July - December 1981, with only 5 points behind number one, and 55 points ahead of number three).

>> At the age of 58 (July-December 1989), Korchnoi was last in the Top-Five (only five points behind to position three).

>> At the age of 68 (July-December 1999), Korchnoi was last in the Top-Twenty of the World.

>> At the age of exact 76, Korchnoi last made the ELO Top-100, in March 2007, and Mighty Vic was never a player who has "frozen" his rating by playing only a few games periodically.

>> At the age of 80, Korchnoi beat a Super-GM with an ELO rating of 2700+ in classical chess (Caruana in Gibraltar 2011).


In his youth, Korchnoi played and beat GM Grigory Levenfish (born 1889)
In his own twilight years, he played and beat GM Fabiano Caruana (born 1992)
A 103-year span - is that unique?

At a total of 174 years, Korchnoi vs. Taimanov (in November 2015, Swiss Chess Museum) is the oldest combined aggregate for a chess match between grandmasters!

Youngest and Oldest National Champion

Youngest: 16 years young or less Lächeln

Men (absolute)

Niaz Murshed (*1966) won the championship of Bangladesh at the age of 12 years and 309 days (according to Bill Wall who knows such things). In 1978, Murshed finished first in the national championship with two others, but ultimately placed third on a tie-breaker. He went on to win the next four national championships in 1979, 1980, 1981 and 1982. He became the national chess champion again after 30 years in 2012. Murshed is Bangladesh's first ever GM, and the first South Asian Grandmaster, having been awarded the GM title in 1987: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niaz_Murshed.

Henrique Mecking (*1952) in 1967 at age of 13 yrs 5mths, Brazil: http://www.brasilbase.pro.br/bca1965.htm, at that time a record, later surpassed / undercut by Niaz Murshed in 1979 (see above).

Bobby Fischer (*1943-2008) in 1957/8 at age of 14, United States of America.

Arturo Pomar (*1931-2016) in 1946 at age of 15, Spain. Sometimes, Arturo Pomar is labelled as youngest national champion, winning the Championship of the Balearic Islands at the age of 11. 

Judit Polgar (*1976) won the Men’s Hungarian Championship, played in Budapest in December 1991 (42th edition) at age of 15 and 5 months (unbeaten above joint 2nd-3rd Adorjan and Sax, ten players including her sister Zsuzsa (Susan) Polgar and legendary Lajos Portisch), making her third and final GM norm.

In December 1991, Judit Polgár thus achieved the title of an International Grandmaster of Chess at the age of 15 years, 4 months and 28 days, at the time the youngest player ever to have done so, breaking the record previously held by former World Champion Bobby Fischer.

Simen Agdestein (*1967) became Norwegian national champion at age of 15 in 1982.

Wesley So (*1993), Champion of the Philippines, winning the title in 2009 at age of 15yrs 6mths.

Murray Chandler (*1960), Co-Champion of New Zealand at age of 15 yrs and 8 mths. The NZL Championships in 1975/76 saw a triple tie for the title (without play-off), after Chandler lost in the final round to William Fairhurst (multiple Scottish Champion), thus allowing record title holder Ortvin Sarapu (born in Estonia, known in New Zealand as “Mr Chess”) and Lev Aptekar (ex-USSR), to catch up. First-timer in alphabetical order: Aptekar, Chandler, and Sarapu.

Daniel Yanofsky (*1925-2000) in 1941 at age of 16, Canada.

Florin Gheorghiu (*1944) in 1960 at age of 16, Romania.

Note: at the British Championship in Chester 1979, the 14-year-old Nigel Short tied for first place with John Nunn and Robert Bellin, earning his first IM norm, the title was won by Robert Bellin, subsequently Short cannot be counted then as National Champion even some sources do so.

In general, the British championship was originally open to citizens of any Commonwealth country and has previously been won by Mir Sultan Khan (India) and Abe Yanofsky (Canada). After the Indian R. B. Ramesh finished first in 2002 and several other Indians took top prizes at the same event, many top Britons declined to compete in the 2003 championship. Following the victory of Indian Abhijit Kunte in 2003 and criticism that the British Championship was not serving the interests of British players, it was announced that starting in 2004 only British and Irish players would be eligible to take part. Since 2006 the Commonwealth Chess Championship has been organized on an annual basis. Source: Wikipedia.

Though some of the child prodigies («Wunderkinder») failed to fully fulfil their early promises (i.e. Niaz Murshed), or / and suffered severe illness (i.e. Pomar, Mecking), they all remain strong GMs. 

Other National Champion titles by the mentioned players have been omitted for reasons of consistency and clarity. Listing may be incomplete.

Women

Hou Yifan (*1994, February) won her first Chinese Women’s Chess Championship in Chongqing in June 2007 at age of 13 yrs and 4 mths, breaking WGM Qin Kanying's (who was 14 when she won the title in 1988) record as the youngest Chineses champion. Hou scored 9/11 (+7 =4 -0, Elo TPR 2585). 

Humpy Koneru (*1987, March) won the British Ladies’ Championship in August 2002 (BCF-ch 87th, a swiss system, won by Julian Hodgson as clear first, ahead of sole second Christopher Ward; Koneru as 21st best female player) at the age of 13 yrs 4 mths (breaking also a 61-year record held by the late Elaine Saunders Pritchard to become the youngest winner of the British Ladies title), and again in 2002, later also the female Indian Chess Championship. 

In 2002, Koneru became the youngest woman ever to achieve the title of grandmaster (not solely a Woman Grandmaster) at the age of 15 years, 1 month, 27 days, beating Judit Polgár's previous mark by three months; this record was subsequently broken by Hou Yifan in 2008.

Elaine Saunders Pritchard (*1926, January, died in January 2012), child prodigy who won in Bournemouth in August 1939 the British women’s tournament at age of 13 yrs and 7 mths.

At the 1939 British Chess Federation Congress at Bournemouth, the proximity of war meant that the British Championship itself was not at stake. With the uncertainty of the time, and the absence of the players competing in the Buenos Aires Olympiad (Conel Hugh O'Donel Alexander, George Alan Thomas, Philip Stuart Milner-Barry, Harry Golombek and Baruch Harold Wood), the men’s championship was scrapped in favor of a more general Premier Tournament, won by Euwe: http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chess.pl?tid=81482

Irina Krush (*1983, December) won the U.S. Women’s Chess Championship in November 1998 at age of 15 minus one month to become the youngest U.S. Women's Champion ever.

Listing may be incomplete! Especially, there are a lot of young female National Champions, women competitions are much weaker on average. In a swiss system, the title is then awarded to the best placed women (no separate section). Other National Champion titles by the mentioned players have been omitted for reasons of consistency and clarity.

 

Oldest: 76 years or more Lächeln

Viktor Korchnoi (*1931-2016) in 2011 at age of 80 years and four months, Switzerland.

Viktor Korchnoi (*1931-2016) again in 2009 at age of 78 years, Switzerland, setting a new world record.

Edith Price (1872-1956), Women's Vice World Chess Champion (1933), won the British Ladies’ Championship again in 1948 at age of 76: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edith_Charlotte_Price.

Longest period between the first and the last national champion title

Incredible 51 years, Viktor Korchnoi (from 1960 USSR-ch to 2011 Switzerland-ch).

Youngest and Oldest winner of a major international (closed) invitation tournament in classical chess

Youngest: 16 years young Lächeln

Magnus Carlsen (*1990) winning as GM at Sarajevo, Bosna in 2006 (joint in a three-way-tie: Nisipeanu, Malakhov and Carlsen finished on 5.5/10 with the above being the tie-break order (1:number of wins; 2:sonnenborn) ahead of 4. Predojevic, 5. Sasikiran, 6. Naiditsch in a six player double round robin), at age of 15 yrs 5mths: http://theweekinchess.com/html/twic602.html#4.

Anish Giri (*1994) winning as GM at Malmö, Sigeman & Co. in 2010 outright at 4.5/5 (ahead of Jon Ludvig Hammer, Nils Grandelius, Jonny Hector, Tiger Hillarp Persson, and Pia Cramling – it was a single round robin, Giri the only Non - Scandinavian player), at age of 15 yrs 11mths: http://en.chessbase.com/post/sigeman-giri-wins-with-4-5-5-and-a-2936-performance.

Garry Kasparov (*1963) winning without GM / IM-title as non-rated player at Banja Luka in 1979 outright (16 players, including former World Chess Champion Tigran Petrosian), celebrating his 16th birthday during the tournament! History: Banja Luka - www.chessdiagonals.ch.

Gata Kamsky (*1974) winning as IM, achieving his final GM norm at the supertournament of Tilburg Interpolis in 1990 (joint with Ivanchuk, ahead of clear third Gelfand, Short, Timman, Andersson, Nikolic, Seirawan) at 16 yrs 3 mths: http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chesscollection?cid=1007027.
 

Oldest: aged 70+ Lächeln

Viktor Korchnoi (1931-2016) winning at the supertournament of Biel in 2001 outright ahead of the tournament title defender Svidler as clear second, Gelfand as clear third, Grischuk, Lautier, Pelletier (double round robin) at age of 70yrs and 4mths: http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chess.pl?tid=80051.

Viktor Korchnoi (1931-2016) winning at ITAG-Masters, Basel in 2002/2003 (a special side event of the Open at the the Hilton-Schachfestival, Mini-Tournament of four players, double round robin, ahead of Pelletier, Hort, and Nemet): http://www.chessib.com/revcsjan3.html.

Viktor Korchnoi (1931-2016) winning at Paks (Hungary), György Marx Memorial in 2004 outright by a full point (six players including Beliavsky and Portisch, double round robin): https://en.chessbase.com/post/victor-victorious-.

Vassily Smyslov (1921-2010) winning a Mini Staunton Memorial event (50 years since 1946), held again at Groningen in 1996 at age of 75. There were arbitrarily only two or three rounds per player, and all aged above 70 years: http://theweekinchess.com/html/twic98.html.

Viktor Korchnoi (1931-2006) winning at Banja Luka in 2007 (joint 1st/2nd, first on tie-break, ten players) at age of 76: https://en.chessbase.com/post/viktor-korchnoi-wins-banja-luka-2007.

(lists may be incomplete, without minor and sheer national events)

note: focus here is on international invitation tournaments (meaning actually you need a certain standard to be invited), thus not including national championships (see above), Open Festivals or individual best performances in team events (from Olympiads to ad hoc formations such as the “Veterans vs. Ladies” series). Neither are matches. By definition, official Junior (U-16, U-14 age limits, etc.) and Senior events (originally 60+, now two categories of 50+, 65+) are a different story and not listed.

For instance, Korchnoi won at age of 75 the Senior World Chess Championship in 2006 (swiss system) at his first and only participation, same year he won the international Open at Banyoles, Spain as first on tie-break above Sergei Tiviakov. In 2011, at age of 80, Korchnoi won the national Swiss Champion title again as well as the international Botvinnik Memorial at Suzdal, Russia, in Rapid Chess. But such achievements do all not fit the initially defined criteria above of a closed international invitation tournament in classical chess.

Extraordinary achievements of older chess players in major international tournaments

Jacques Mieses (1886-1954) was 84 years old when FIDE first awarded the grandmaster title, Mieses was one of the 27 original recipients: Jacques Mieses - Information, Pictures and Games (in german). He played in classical chess tournaments of note between 1888 (Berlin, Nuremberg, Leipzig, Augustea Jubilee Tournament, followed in 1889 by Breslau, DSB Congress) and 1945/46 Hastings Congress, winning the Brilliancy Prize at age of 81 for his win over Martin Christoffel, then the reigning Swiss National Champion, http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1155597 and even at age of 88, Mieses took part in the Blitz City Championship of London. 

Viktor Korchnoi (1931-2016), National Champion (Switzerland 2011) at age of 80 years, and beating Fabiano Caruana, then best Junior of the world and already an established ELO 2700+ player at Gibraltar Open in 2011: http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1604728
http://theweekinchess.com/chessnews/events/tradewise-gibraltar-chess-festival-2011/korchnoi-defeats-caruana-in-gibraltar-masters-second-round.

Korchnoi took the supertournament of Biel in 2001 outright ahead of the tournament title defender Svidler as clear second, Gelfand as clear third, Grischuk, Lautier, Pelletier (double round robin) at age of 70 years and 4 months; followed by further international tournament wins. His career shows a unique 64 years winning span in competitive closed chess tournaments from USSR Junior Championship 1947 in Leningrad to Suzdal (Botvinnik Veterans Mem) Rapid 2011.

Viktor Korchnoi beating the Engine kids:

winning with about 40 plus year-odds vs. elite players as Gelfand, Ivanchuk, Shirov, Svidler, Adams, Topalov, Leko, and Judit Polgar,

winning with about 50 plus year-odds vs. elite players as Vallejo Pons (born 1982), Ponomariov (born 1983), Bacrot (born 1983), Grischuk (born 1983), Gashimov (born 1986, R.I.P. 2014), Carlsen (born 1990), and Caruana (born 1992).

Samuel Reshevsky (1911-1992) tied for first at the prestigious Reykjavik Open in 1984, as shared winner at the age of 72 and a half with (then IM) Johann Hjartarson, first on tie-break, and (then IM) Helgi Olafsson; Reshevsky and Balashov as the only two players undefeated in a field of amongst others Geller, Chandler, Christiansen, De Firmian, R. Byrne, Alburt, Lobron, Gutman, Ree, Daniel King, or Fridrik Olafsson. Reshevsky continued to play until before the end of his life. He is the only Oldtimer also to be a child prodigy!

At the age of 72 and a half, Joseph Blackburne (1841-1924) won a Special Brilliancy Prize* for his win over Aron Nimzowitsch at the great St. Petersburg in 1914 tournament:
http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1029515, but failed to qualify for the final stage of the best five players (Lasker won, ahaed of Capablanca who won the preliminaries, Alekehine, Tarrasch, and Marshall. That same year, Blackburne tied for first place in the British chess championship with Frederick Yates, but ill health prevented him from contesting the play-off for the title. This was Blackburne's last major tournament. However, in 1921 Blackburne was still giving simultaneous exhibitions. *Tarrasch won the main Brilliancy Prize for his win over Nimzo, involving a double bishop sacrifice https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Petersburg_1914_chess_tournament,
https://schach.chess.com/forum/view/tournaments/st-petersburg-1914-chess-tournament

At the age of 72, Ossip Bernstein (1882-1962) won the Brilliancy Prize for his win over Miguel Najdorf at the UNESCO Montevideo tournament in 1954 (18 participants):
http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1101326 
Bernstein tied for 2nd-3rd with Miguel Najdorf, behind René Letelier. Nadjorf protested that it was unfair to play such an aged opponent, and then became so confident of eventual victory before this last round game that he convinced the organizers to double the First Prize money at the expense of reducing the payouts for the lesser prizes, a gamble which backfired in spectacular fashion as the septuagenarian Bernstein routed him in a 37-move Old Indian Defense that won Bernstein the Brilliancy Prize.
http://www.brasilbase.pro.br/ti1954mv.htm, http://www.brasilbase.pro.br/foto0508.htm.
The same year, Bernstein played at first board for France at the Chess Olympiad in Amsterdam 1954 (+5 −5 =5), he was also a member of the French team at the next Olympiad in Moscow 1956, but he did not play because of illness. 

Miguel Najdorf (1910-1997) tied for second place in a supertournament at age of 69, the Clarin International at Buenos Aires in 1979. Larsen who won as clear first, and Najdorf as the only two undefeated players in a field including former world champions Petrosian and Spassky as well as Miles, Andersson or fellow countryman Oscar Panno. Najdorf's last national championship entry was in 1991 at age 81, even later, he still participate in the traditional Mar del Plata Open with good results. He also remained active in chess play and commentary to the end of his life.

Emanuel Lasker (1868-1941) returned to elite chess in his mid-sixties, finishing fifth in Zürich 1934 and third in Moscow 1935 (undefeated, ½ point behind Mikhail Botvinnik and Salo Flohr; ahead of Capablanca, Spielmann and several strong Soviet masters), sixth in Moscow 1936 and seventh equal in Nottingham 1936, his last international tournament at age of 68. Lasker's ongoing strength on top level was hailed by Reuben Fine as "a biological miracle".

Honorable mention:

Arnold Denker (1914-2005), the "Dean of American chess", renowned chronicler, and organizer, has recorded games from nine different decades (1929-2001) as well as Mark Taimanov (*1926): On Chessgames (http://www.chessgames.com/player/mark_taimanov.html) are shown 73 years of games for Mark Taimanov! Does any grandmaster have a longer chess career than him?

Ratmir Kholmov (1925-2006) played regular competitive chess on high level virtually right up until his death, i.e. in 2005 at age of 80 he  participated at Pardubice A-Open, and Aeroflot B-Open in Moscow, he played also at Olomouc and Dnipropetrovsk (now officially named Dnipro), Kholmov achieved in some pretty strong events still results above 50%.

Alexander Cherepkov (1920-2009) kept his strength and improved gradually as he got older. He won the first of his three Leningrad Championships in 1967 at age 47, and repeated the next year following a playoff. After some appearances in minor events and team championships, with mixed results, Cherepkov won his third Leningrad title in 1982 after a playoff. Maybe the best result of his career, was winning the international invitation Leningrad White Knights tournament 1984 with 8/13, ahead of several Grandmasters. This was a remarkable achievement at age 64. He earned the IM title by FIDE. Another superb showing at age 70 came in the 1990 Leningrad International, where he finished clear 2nd with 9.5/13, behind Konstantin Sakaev. Source: Wikipedia.
http://www.365chess.com/tournaments/White_Knights_1984/22796 (1984)
http://www.365chess.com/tournaments/Leningrad_it_1990/19100 (1990)

http://www.bs-chess.com/latin/lectures/cherep2.html?PHPSESSID=d21c1a594 (interview, part I)

http://www.bs-chess.com/latin/lectures/cherep3.html?PHPSESSID=d21c1a594 (interview, part II)
 

Géza Maróczy, Andor Lilienthal, Edward Lasker, Enrico Paoli, Arthur DakeDavid Bronstein, László Szabó, Svetozar Gligoric, Wolfgang Unzicker, Borislav Ivkov (*1933), Fridrik Olafsson (*1935), Wolfgang Uhlmann (*1935), or Boris Spassky (*1937) have long chess careers, too (often semi-retired for years, still occasionally playing in tournaments or team events until nature forces to stop). Earlier oldtimers include Baron Tassilo Heydebrand und der Lasa and Henry Bird.

This survey is subjective. Veteran events, friendly matches, rapid, blitz or exhibitions or late entries in team events are not of same status and strength as an international closed or open tournament in classical chess, thus generally not indicated here.

According to Chessmetrics (all data per 2005), Viktor Korchnoi, Vassili Smyslov, Miguel Najdorf, Samuel Reshevsky, plus Ratmir Kholmov, Svetozar Gligoric (he suffered somehow a striking decline in his personal mid-50s and 60s, then remarkably consolidating in his 70s), surprising IM Alexander Cherepkov in common with the late successes of the great Joseph Blackburne and Ossip Bernstein could be considered as the world's strongest septuagenarian players in chess.

The only octogenarian chess player frequently and fully competitive active on high level in the international circuit was Viktor Korchnoi.

At age of 80 in 2011, Viktor Korchnoi, performed a sensational year: National Champion once again and more than fifty years since his first national USSR title, winning the closed Botvinnik Memorial Veterans, Rapid at Suzdal, beating Caruana in a fascinating Ruy Lopez with black at the prestigious Gibraltar Open, playing at the European Team Chess Championship for Switzerland on board no. 2, and achieving the individual best score in the Swiss Team Championship together with Alexey Dreev (both at 6.5/8). 

The following year, Viktor Korchnoi won as individual best an international team event at Geneva, already forced to sit in a wheelchair. In September 2012, Korchnoi suffered a severe stroke, but continued after a rehabilitation phase to play competitive chess, in rapid matches, twice versus Wolfgang Uhlmann at Leipzig in 2014 and at Zurich in 2015, and with his longtime friend from Saint Petersburg, Mark Taimanov at Lucerne in November 2015.

On a slightly lesser level: Zoltan Sarosy, born in Budapest, Hungary in 1906, has been playing for now more than a century – and is still active! Lächeln

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoltan_Sarosy
http://www.uschess.org/content/view/12828/785/

Oldest Chess Grandmaster to be awarded

Jacques Mieses in 1950 (title inauguration), 85 years

Jacques Mieses (Leipzig, 27 February 1865 – London, 23 February 1954) was a German-born chess Grandmaster and writer. He became a naturalized British citizen after World War II.

Mieses moved to England in the 1930s to escape Nazi persecution as a Jew. In 1950 he became the first FIDE-authorized British grandmaster, though not (as is sometimes claimed) the first ever British grandmaster. When FIDE first awarded the grandmaster title in 1950, Mieses was one of the 27 original recipients, and the oldest of them. (Source: Wikipedia)

***

Oldest recipient of the Honorary GM title (only awarded between 1977 and 2003):

Enrico Paoli in 1996, at age of 88

Enrico Paoli (January 13, 1908 – December 15, 2005) was an Italian International chess master.

He was born in Trieste, Italy, and learned chess when he was nine years old. He was winner of closed International Tournaments of Vienna (1951) and Imperia, Italy (1959). Paoli won his last Italian Championship at age 60, and organized the famous Reggio Emilia chess tournament.

He beat Soviet GM Alexander Kotov with the black pieces in Venice in 1950, but missed receiving the Grandmaster title by only half a point at a tournament in Vrsac (Kostic Memorial) in 1969 (that year, there was no new grandmaster nomination at all). Paoli was awarded the title honoris causa in 1996 by FIDE. (Source: Wikipedia)

Youngest Chess Grandmaster to be awarded

by Year and Age ("advanced control")

1. David Bronstein, Soviet Union in 1950 (title inauguration), 26 years
2.
Tigran Petrosian, Soviet Union in 1952, 23 years
3.
Boris Spassky, Soviet Union in 1955, 18 years
4.
Bobby Fischer, United States in 1958, 15 years, 6 months, 1 day
5.
Judit Polgár, Hungary in 1991, male GM 15 years, 4 months, 28 days
6.
Péter Lékó, Hungary in 1994, 14 years, 4 months, 22 days
7.
Etienne Bacrot, France in 1997, 14 years, 2 months, 0 days
8.
Ruslan Ponomariov, Ukraine in 1997, 14 years, 0 months, 17 days
9.
Bu Xiangzhi, China in 1999, 13 years, 10 months, 13 days
10.
Sergey Karjakin, Ukraine in 2002 (current record), 12 years, 7 months, 0 days

Above are all players who have held the record for youngest grandmaster. The age listed is the age at which they qualified for the title (GM-elect). This is not equal to the age at which they officially became Grandmasters, because de-jure titles can only be awarded at FIDE congresses. All players are listed by their nationality at the time of gaining the title, not their current or later nationality.

Source: http://chessrecords.blogspot.ch/2008/12/youngest-grandmasters-1950-david.html (note, the other stats there are not up-dated since 2008)

Youngest IM in chess history:

Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa (born 10 August 2005), is a chess player and International Master from Chennai, India.

Praggnanandhaa became the youngest person ever to become an International Master in history. He did so on 29 May 2016 at the age of 10 years and 10 months and 19 days, over twelve months younger than the record previously set by Sergey Karjakin.

Chess is crossing age borders: Korchnoi, Ponomariov, young Karjakin, young Lahno (Lagno), amongst others, at the famous Kramatorsk chess school in Ukraine. Photo: ChessBase

Dethroned as reigning World Chess Champion without winning a single game

Two of the longest-reigning world chess champions, Lasker and Kasparov, both went down without winning a single game, in 1921 (Lasker vs. Capablanca, private title negotiations), and 2000 (Kasparov vs. Kramnik, Braingames, split title) respectively.

The same fate faced Anand in 2013, when losing his title (undisputed FIDE ruling) to Carlsen.

RAPID / Blitz / Armageddon tie-break to determine the male World Champion in CLASSICAL CHESS

So far, no Blitz or Armageddon was needed to tie-break a World Championship title match. 

A Rapid Mini-Match decided the World Championship in classical chess in the following years: 2006 (Kramnik vs. Topalov), 2012 (Anand vs. Gelfand), and 2016 (Carlsen vs. Karjakin); plus during the schism with split titles and FIDE direct seeding / knock-out competitions in 1998 (Karpov vs. Anand), and in 2004 (Kasimdzhanov vs. Adams).

  • 2006 in Elista: Kramnik vs. Topalov 6-6

A World Chess Championship known as "toiletgate", seriously damaged with unproven cheating allegations by Topalov's manager Silvio Danailov. The first phase of the tiebreaks was a four game mini-match played with 25 minutes per each side, and a 10 second increment. Kramnik's victory in the fourth rapid game allowed him to win the rapid-encounter and the whole match.

After thirteen years of chaos in the chess world, due to the FIDE schism forced by Short and Kasparov in 1993 (Garry later admitted, it was a misjudgement), the splitted chess world thus has become again a solitary and undisputed World Chess Champion in 2006: Vladimir Kramnik (reigning for one year until 2007, followed then by Vishy Anand).

  • 2012 in Moscow: Anand vs. Gelfand 6-6

Known for his prowess at rapid play, Vishy Anand was the clear favorite going into the tiebreaks (25 minutes + 10s/move). After a see-saw victory in the second rapid game, followed by two complicated draws, Anand had defended the title he gained Mexico City in a tournament in 2007 for a third time in a row, following the matches against Kramnik (who was directly seeded for a one-off event in which he as the previous world champion had been given the right for a title re-match) in Bonn 2008 and Topalov in Sofia 2010. Anand finally lost the crown at Chennai in 2013 against Magnus Carlsen.

  • 2016 in New York: Carlsen vs. Karjakin 6-6

The match was decided then in tiebreaks where Magnus Carlsen prevailed 3-1 in the rapids (again 25 minutes + 10s/move), winning the third and fourth rapid game:

Karjakin vs Carlsen (game 15)
Carlsen vs Karjakin (game 16)

The very last move of the World Chess Championship at New York in 2016: White (Magnus Carlsen) to move, mate in two: 49.Rc8+!!, Kh7 is just played, in fact, Magnus' birthday combination (Diagram: NZZ)

Split titles: RAPID / Blitz / Armageddon tie-break

During the schism (split titles), the FIDE World Chess Championship has been decided twice in speed games: 1998 in Lausanne, Switzerland (Karpov vs. Anand 3-3, 2-0 in rapid games), and 2004 in Tripoli, Lybia (Kasimdzhanov vs. Adams 3-3, 1.5-0.5 in rapid games).

  • 1998 in Lausanne: Karpov vs. Anand 3-3

The FIDE World Chess Championship 1998 was contested in a match between the FIDE World Champion Anatoly Karpov and the Challenger Viswanathan Anand. The match took place between 2 January and 9 January 1998 in Lausanne. The circumstances caused controversy:

Karpov as defending FIDE champion was seeded directly into the championship match! 

Kasparov (ranked 1st in the world) declined his invitation in advance.

Kramnik (ranked 2nd in the world) declined participation on the grounds that Karpov's direct entry into the final was unacceptable.

The challenger had to be determined in a large knock-out tournament held prior in Groningen, The Netherlands, between 9 December and 30 December 1997 with 97 participants.

A very tense playoff between Michael Adams and Viswanathan Anand took place on the last day, 30 December, of the Groningen k.-o. event. Anand generally dominated the rapid playoffs (2 games 25 minutes + 10 seconds increment, followed then by 2 games 15 minutes + 10 seconds increment), not managing to put Adams away until the introduction of the blitz sudden death Armageddon game (4 minutes to white, 5 to black).

Vishy Anand and his team then had to sort out a flight and to move quickly, very quickly from Groningen to Lausanne opening ceremony of the final stage of the event on the 1st January 1998 at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne: a Mini-Match against Anatoly Karpov.

After the Championship in Lausanne ended in a draw (3-3), Karpov won the rapid playoff (2-0), becoming the 1998 FIDE World Chess Champion again. Subsequently he did not defend his FIDE title and went to Court.

  • 2004 in Tripoli: Kasimdzhanov vs. Adams 3-3

In 2004, Kasimdzhanov beat Adams 4½–3½ after the rapid tie-breaks, the final match of a large FIDE World Chess Championship knock-out tournament having been tied 3-3 in the six standard games. During his whole career, Rustam Kasimdzhanov never entered the top ten Elo ranking, neither before nor after this surprising win.

Streaks are in fashion

Historical testimonies, and some recent streaks

Prins starting by a score of 10/10 at Madrid international tournament in 1951:
http://www.365chess.com/tournaments/Madrid_1951, Prins triumphed, but lost four games!

Najdorf winning 9-0 from round 6 to 14 at the first Capablanca Memorial in Havana 1962:
http://www.365chess.com/tournaments/Capablanca_mem_1962/25729, Najorf won outright  ahead of Spassky, Polugavsky, Smyslov, Gligoric, etc.) despite beginning with two losses!

Madrid then can be regarded as a major international chess tournament, but not as a world class tournament (today often called 'supertournaments') like the significant series of the mentioned below Beverwijk / Wijk aan Zee (Hoogovens, Corus, Tata Steel), Linares or the Sinquefield Cup at Missouri, St. Louis.

Korchnoi starting 8-0 at Wijk aan Zee in 1968, his first participation (wins from round 1 vs. Padevsky to round 8 vs. Tal). Korchnoi won Hoogovens Wijk aan Zee with full three points ahead of Portisch, Hort, and Tal as joint runners-up.

Caruana starting 7-0 at the Sinquefield Cup 2014, winning as clear first (8.5/10), full three points ahead of World Champion Magnus Carlsen against whom Caruana drew in round eight after beating him in round three. This was the first edition of the Sinquefield Cup, a double round robin of six players (Anand and Kramnik absent).

Karpov starting 6-0 at Linares 1994, winning incredible 2.5 points ahead of Kasparov, and Shirov as shared seconds.

Recently, a selection:

Seems like everyone's going on a six-game winning streak these days, at least: Fabiano Caruana (who made it to seven games), to name a few super-GMs to have accomplished the feat since Sinquefield Cup in 2014 (as a selection):

Nakamura starting 6-0 in the Gibraltar (Open) 2015, winning the event.

Giri starting 6-0 in the Qatar Masters Open (Open) 2014, not winning the event.

Gunina (losing her two first games), finishing 7-0 at 64th Russian Superfinals women (ch-RUS) in Kazan 2014, winning the round robin tournament outright.

Carlsen's 6-0 in the middle of TATA Steel at Wijk aan Zee 2015, winning the event.

Kramnik from round 3 to 8 (losing the final round) in the Qatar Masters Open 2014, not winning the event.

FIDE 04 September 2014

Fabiano Caruana is at 7/7 in Sinquefield Cup 2014

Day after day the Italian-American superstar Fabiano Caruana is making history. Fabulous Fabiano aka Fabi is now at 7/7 in the strongest ever chess tournament, the Sinquefield Cup, breaking every expectation, shattering even the bravest predictions.

With his victory in round six he surpassed the 5/5 start of Ivanchuk at Sofia, Mtel Masters in 2008, with the victory today another achievement remains behind – the 6/6 of Karpov at Linares in 1994. The modern times of chess have a new king: ice-cold Fabi. One has to look back to 1968 where in Wijk aan Zee the legendary Korchnoi started with 8/8.

(unquote)

 

Starting with two losses – and winning in the end!

Top tournaments won from that situation include

Miguel Najdorf, 16,5/21 at the first Capablanca Memorial in Havana 1962,

Bent Larsen, 12/17 at Palma de Mallorca 1969,

Alexander Beliavsky, 8,5/14 at Tilburg 1986.

Are there others?

Recently, Valentina Gunina (losing her two first games), then finishing 7-0 at 64th Russian Superfinals women (ch-RUS) in Kazan 2014, winning the round robin tournament outright.

*list may be incomplete*

Perfect clean sores in chess tournaments

coming soon

Almanac & Trivia

Quiz