Reports | October 13, 2009 19:13

Ray Robson is the new youngest GM

Ray RobsonAnish Giri could enjoy the title for about eight months, but now there's a new youngest grandmaster in the world: Ray Robson from the USA. By winning the Panamerican Junior Championship in Montevideo, Uruguay Robson clinched his 3rd GM norm, just 14 years 11 months and 16 days old.

GM-elect Ray Robson at the Panamerican Junior Championship in Montevideo, Uruguay

Ray Robson was born October 25th, 1994 in Guam, an island in the western Pacific Ocean and an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States. An only child, Ray learned the rules of chess at the age of 3, from his father Gary, a professor in applied linguistics. Ray's mother Yee-chen is a kindergarten teacher. Currently the family lives in Largo, Florida (USA).

Ray stepped into the limelight for the first time in April 2005, at the "Super Nationals" (the world's largest scholastic chess tournament) in Nashville, Tennessee. There he won all of his games and emerged as the national champion in the elementary age division. By winning this title, he earned a four-year scholarship covering full tuition and fees, along with a housing stipend, to the University of Texas (Dallas) - not bad for a 10-year-old (and no doubt very useful in later years).

In 2007 Robson earned his three IM norms in only six weeks: the first at the 6th North American FIDE Invitational on November 3, 2007, in Chicago, Illinois; the second on November 27 at the World Youth Chess Championship in Antalya, Turkey, and the third and final norm on (December 10) at the University of Texas GM Invitational in Dallas, Texas, making him the youngest IM-elect in the United States.

Ray Robson

On July 16, 2009, Robson became the youngest player ever to win the U.S. Junior Chess Championship and soon afterwards, just like his IM norms, the three GM norms were scored in a very short time frame. In August he tied for first at the Arctic Chess Challenge in Tromso, Norway, and in the same month Robson earned his second GM norm by winning the 23rd North American FIDE Invitational in Skokie, Illinois.

Last Sunday, Robson drew his game against Andres Gallego in round 8 of the Pan-American Junior Championship in Montevideo, Uruguay. This way he secured first place in the tournament as he had won his first seven games! Robson's dad Gary confirmed that for winning this tournament, Ray automatically earns a GM norm, despite the fact that he only played eight games against just one IM (Chami Luis Ibarra) and one GM (Andre Diamant).

Double-checking the FIDE Handbook we assume that the Panamerican Junior Championship falls in the same category as the "Continental U-20 ASEAN", the "Arab U-20", the "Centroamerican-Caribbean U-20" and the "Southern American U-20" mentioned in the table under 1.24 - tournaments where the gold medal equals a 9-game GM norm. (Not that we're questioning Ray's level or anything; so far he has beaten already five 2600+ players! See the game viewer below.)

Since Ray Robson's rating is already over 2500, he's now officially "GM-elect", and soon officially the youngest GM in the world. He beat Fabiano Caruana's record by four days, and also broke Nakamura's and Fischer's records to become the youngest American Grandmaster in history. [Update answering Thomas' remark: the First Saturday tournament where Fabiano scored his 3rd GM norm was in July 2007, so it started on Saturday, July 7th, 2007. It seems there wasn’t a rest day in that tournament and so the last round was played on Sunday, July 15th. His birthday is July 30th and if we assume he clinched the norm in the last round, he was in fact 14 years, 11 months and 15 days, just one day quicker than Ray! Besides, since Fabiano was a citizen of both the United States and Italy, he did break Nakamura’s record.]

No.
 Player
Nat.
Years
Months
Days
Year
 Sergey Karjakin
UKR
12
7
0
2002
 Parimarjan Negi
IND
13
3
22
2006
 Magnus Carlsen
NOR
13
3
27
2004
 Bu Xiangzhi
CHN
13
10
13
1999
 Teimour Radjabov
AZE
14
0
14
2001
 Ruslan Ponomariov 
UKR
14
0
17
1997
 Wesley So
PHI
14
1
28
2007
 Etienne Bacrot
FRA
14
2
0
1997
 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave
FRA
14
4
0
2005
10 
 Peter Leko
HUN
14
4
22
1994
11 
 Hou Yifan
CHN
14
6
2
2008
12 
 Anish Giri
RUS
14
7
2
2009
13 
 Yuri Kuzubov
UKR
14
7
12
2004
14 
 Dariusz Swiercz
POL
14
7
29
2004
15 
 Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son 
VIE
14
10
0
2004
16 
 Fabiano Caruana
ITA
14
11
15
2007
17 
 Ray Robson
USA
14
11
16
2009
18 
 Koneru Humpy
IND
15
1
27
2002
19 
 Hikaru Nakamura
USA
15
2
19
2003
20 
 Pentala Harikrishna
IND
15
3
5
2001
21
 Judit Polgar
HUN
15
4
28
1991
22
 Alejandro Ramirez
CRI
15
5
14
2003
23
 Bobby Fischer
USA
15
6
1
1958


Recently Ray Robson was interviewed by John Watson for almost an hour; Robson was the guest at the weekly Chess.FM show Chess Talk with Watson on September 8th. Robson tells about being coached by Gregory Kaidanov and Alexander Onischuk and reveals a bit about the mystery of chess improvement. For instance, Kaidanov gave him opening files and Dvoretsky puzzles, which Ray described as "hard to solve, but very helpful for me." His advice to young players: "Keep studying chess is the best way to improve. Different books, tactics, everyone can improve that way." And he confirmed the importance of tactics: "At the beginning I studied tactics a lot. I didn't really study positional chess until I was much higher rated." Later in the interview Ray mentioned "USCF, Chessbase, ChessVibes" as the chess websites he visits, so we'll take the opportunity: congratulations Ray!

Selection of Ray Robson's games

Game viewer by ChessTempo

Photos courtesy of the Jóvenes Promesas del Ajedrez Uruguayo blog

Links

Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of ChessVibes.com, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.

Chess.com

Comments

Remco G's picture

Nitpick: the table has Robson's federation listed as "ITA". I think they copied from Caruana :-)

Peter Doggers's picture

Aha, yes, thx, corrected.

Thomas's picture

Two more corrections - if Wikipedia is correct:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chess_prodigy
1) Caruana obtained his title at the age of 14 years 11 months and 10 days - so he remains the youngest-ever American GM, if he is still considered (partly) American. His own view on that as given by Chessbase ( http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=4187 ): "although my FIDE affiliation is with Italy, I am still a member of the United States Chess Federation, and I greatly value my good relationship with the United States Chess Federation."
2) The Wikipedia list also mentions Polish young GM Dariusz Swiercz. Actually I never heard of him before (or don't remember). Apparently his rating (currently 2492) was never >2500, so this is not a requirement for the GM title?

Peter Doggers's picture

In the Chessbase article you mention it says 14 years 11 months and 20 days so let's double-check this. The First Saturday tournament where Fabiano scored his 3rd GM norm was in July 2007, so it started on Saturday, July 7th, 2007. It seems there wasn't a rest day in that tournament and so the last round was played on Sunday, July 15th. His birthday is July 30th and if we assume he clinched the norm in the last round, he was in fact 14 years, 11 months and 15 days, just one day quicker than Ray! Besides, since Fabiano was a citizen of both the United States and Italy, he did break Nakamura's record. (I'll look into Dariusz Swiercz.)

Patrick's picture

does anyone know how much elo he gains from this tournament ? he already wins 26 in the current FIDE calculations , so he might be well on his way to the 2600 barrier

Thomas's picture

Good job, Peter! Indeed it seems that Caruana clinched his final norm with a victory in the last round. Then I count 14 years, 11 months and 15 days - the average of what's mentioned in other sources and still quicker than Ray Robson ... .
BTW, do you have any info on Darius Swiercz? Regarding the 2500 rating requirement (1.52 in the FIDE handbook), he may have benefited from 1.52a (" Such a rating need not be published. It can be obtained in the middle of a rating period, or even in the middle of a tournament. ").

Crouchyboy's picture

That's an excellent point made by Thomas. While I cannot comment on Darius Swiercz, I seem to remember that Simon Williams obtained his GM title in the 6th or 7th round of the British Championship 2008, as his rating briefly passed 2500. He then lost a couple of games and finished with only a 2400+ performance, but he got the GM status nonetheless.

To be fair to him, his rating has since passed 2500 for quite a while. I just thought I'd point out a player who has actually attained the GM title without officially passing 2500 at the time of achieving it.

Jan's picture

Not very relevant anyway looking at Karjakin - who will even break that record?

sosko's picture

Congratulation to Ray!!! well, Anish is still the youngest ever Grandmaster in the rich and mighty chess history of Russia (including Soviet Union era) and the Netherlands...must be of historical significance!!!

Meppie's picture

Karel van der Weide became GM in 2004 and only passed the 2500 (on the list) in april 2007. So Williams is not the only one!

Jan's picture

According to discussions here, mrs Peng is a GM who never passed the 2500 mark! Everything is possible nowadays...

Chris's picture

Can anyone tell me who is the oldest person to qualify as GM & at what age (I stipulate qualify - being awarded the title emeritus doesn't count) ?

Art Saliva's picture

I also want to know but I am frustrated with the answers posted. None have names with ages. Who was the oldest to qualify for IM? and at what age?

Thomas's picture

'@Chris: As a starting point: IM Larry Kaufman (*1947) won the 2008 World Senior Championship and was automatically awarded the GM title.
But if you mean "Who did it the usual way?" - scoring three GM norms in separate events - someone else has to answer your question. BTW, on Dailydirt frogbert (being pedantic, his own words) clarified that FIDE rules say "a total of 27 games" - in rare situations this would require 2 or 4 GM norms.

Peter Doggers's picture

Got confirmation from Wojtek Bartelski (who runs Olimpbase) about Dariusz Swiercz; table updated.

Koos Stolk's picture

@Peter, the title application was by the Dutch Federation, Giri was already NED when the title was awarded.
But OK, when he became "GM-elect" he was still RUS.

Thomas's picture

Hi Peter,
Maybe you have to change (or update) the article again :) - Susan Polgar just mentions that Peruvian FM Jorge Cori got his third GM norm at the age of 14 years and 2 months.
Or maybe not, someone in the comments there mentions that Cori is currently rated 2445 and still has to cross 2500 to really earn the GM title.

Peter Doggers's picture

Saw that too, but as long as the FIDE rating list mentions a 0 expected rating change, I'll leave it like this.

Thomas's picture

Once his latest event (International Marcel Duchamp Championship in Argentina - couldn't find any other information on this one) is rated, Cori will gain a few points for the November list. Doesn't a GM norm correspond to a TPR of 2600 or higher?
Yet it won't be nearly enough to cross 2500, so the Peruvian headline "Peru's Jorge Cori became the youngest Grand Master in the world" seems to be quite premature. As always, Susan Polgar just copied it without double-checking or commenting - guess there is sometimes a tradeoff between quantity and quality of information?

Daaim Shabazz's picture

Ray Robson is the real deal! I've had a chance to watch him here in the U.S. He has very good nerves. I remember watching Fabiano Caruana who was barely big enough to see over the board. Everyone knew he was going to be strong. He always played in the top sections and got good support from parents. Robson is getting the same support from family and is very focused.

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