Date With Destiny - First Move Chess -First Move Chess

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As the ancient game of Chess gets ever older with each year, paradoxically its Grandmasters just keep on getting ever younger with the highest title now being achieved at twelve, thirteen and fourteen years of age. So much so that the legendary five-time World Champion Vishy Anand once wryly observed that, “Nowadays, when you are not a grandmaster at 14, you can forget about it.”

It’s hard to imagine in a digital generation firmly packed with pre-pubescent stars who cut their competitive teeth (and milk ones, at that!) on freely available high-level playing engines and multi-million game databases, but back in 1950, when the game’s governing body FIDE first introduced official chess titles, it was David Bronstein, then aged 26, who was the first to appear in the record books as being the world’s youngest Grandmaster.

And after Bronstein there then followed three future world champion who each lowered the threshold further: Tigran Petrosian, who was 23 in 1952; Boris Spassky, 18 in 1955; and most famously Bobby Fischer, who hit the headlines in 1958 by smashing Spassky’s record at the tender age of 15 years, six months and one day. There was then a 30 year hiatus before Judit Polgar sensationally broke Fischer’s record in 1991.

Ever since then, the threshold has been getting lower and lower – but many writers in the game believed that Sergey Karjakin’s pre-teen record of becoming a Grandmaster in 2002 at the age of just 12 years, 7 months, 0 days might never be broken in their lifetime. But now comes top US junior IM Abhimanyu Mishra, who could well be set for a date with destiny and the history books.

Earlier this week, the 12-year-old New Jersey prodigy turned in the remarkable feat of winning the First Saturday GM tournament in Budapest, Hungary, to record his second successive GM norm in as many months – and doing so with more than just a touch of élan, claiming victory with a round to spare and a full three-points clear of the field with his unbeaten score of 8/9, with a rating performance of 2739 and the vital gain of 30.5 Elo points.

“Abhi” – as he’s more commonly and affectionately known as – now has until 5 September to bag his third and final GM norm (plus gain a further 24 Elo points) to smash Karjakin’s record of the youngest-ever grandmaster in history. And accompanied by his father, Abhi will be spending his summer based in Hungary in an attempt to break the record.

Photo: Abhimanyu Mishra, the mini-master chasing Sergey Karjakin’s record | © Fox 29 News Philadelphia 

 

FM Levente Papp – IM Abhimanyu Mishra
First Saturday GM, (3)
English Opening, Botvinnik System
1.e4 c5 2.c4 Nc6 3.Nc3 From a Sicilian Defence, we have transposed smoothly to the English Opening Botvinnik System, endorsed by Tony Kosten in his very readable and groundbreaking book, The Dynamic English. 3…g6 4.g3 Bg7 5.Bg2 a6 6.Nge2 Rb8 7.a4 Stopping Black expanding on the queenside with …b5. 7…e5 8.0-0 Nge7 We have a Symmetrical battle now on the board; the big fight being who can make the most of their knight outposts: White on d5 or Black on d4? 9.d3 0-0 10.Nd5 d6 11.f4 exf4 12.Nexf4 Be6 Also a good plan was 12…Nxd5 13.Nxd5 Be6 with options of playing a …b5 queenside break or playing …Bxd5 and …Nd4. 13.Nxe6? I find this a bit puzzling, as it immediately concedes control of the vital Nd5 outpost. As strange as it may seem, a strategic retreat with 13.Nc3 might be the best way forward for White, keeping his options open for the Nf4 instead swinging into d5. But the route White takes by capturing on e6 is just a bad plan that quickly backfires on him. 13…fxe6 14.Nf4 Nd4! Young Abhi now takes control of the game, with his dominant knights going on to win the game. 15.Bh3 Rf6! Not only protecting e6, but at the same time looking to double rooks on the f-file. 16.Be3 Nec6 The …Nd4 is now as solid as a rock. Not only that, but as we’ll soon see, a knight swinging into e5 with multiple threats. 17.Rf2 Qe7 18.Bg2 A clear admission that 13.Nxe6 and 15.Bh3 was a bad plan. 18…Rbf8 The pressure is building up nicely now from Abhi – and with a maturity that bellies his young age. 19.h4 It’s very hard to make suggestions of better moves for White, as he’s basically sitting in Death’s Waiting Room for the Grim Reaper to arrive. 19…Bh6 20.Kh1 Rxf4! [see diagram] The timely double exchange sacrifice leaves White in dire straits. 21.Rxf4 Bxf4 22.Bxf4 Rxf4! 23.gxf4 Qxh4+ 24.Kg1 Qxf4 Black has two good pawns for the exchange – good enough compensation on its own, but more fatal for White is that Black’s queen and knights are working in perfect unison to harangue White’s exposed king. 25.b3 More or less sending the white flag up the pole. White is lost, but the better try to grimly hold on was with 25.Qf1 Qg5 but with the other knight swinging into e5, or even 26.Kh1 Qh5+ 27.Kg1 Ne2+ 28.Kf2 Ncd4 White can’t prevent the inevitability that he’s lost, with his king wandering dazed and confused in the razor wire of No-Man’s Land. 25…Ne5 26.Ra2 Qg3 0-1 And White resigns. It’s not the loss of the d3-pawn that forces the issue, but rather the threat to White’s king, such as 27.Rf2 Ng4! and either/both a heavy loss of material or the king being mated with 28.Ra2 Qh2+ 29.Kf1 Ne3+ etc.

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