Reports | February 26, 2013 18:38

Wei Yi youngest GM in the world at 13 years, 8 months, 24 days

Wei Yi youngest GM in the world at 13 years, 8 months, 24 days

Today Wei Yi became the youngest chess grandmaster in the world. The 13-year-old IM from China has secured his third GM norm at the Reykjavik Open, and because his rating is already over 2500 he can apply for the title.

The youngest GM on the planet: Wei Yi (China)

No less than twelve players from China are competing in the Reykjavik Open, currently under way in the Icelandic capital. One of them is having a very successful tournament: 13-year-old Wei Yi. In round 8 the highly talented chess player defeated none other than French GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave to reach a performance rating of 2667.

When we're publishing this article, he is playing with Black against Grzegorz Gajewski (2664) and even if he loses, Wei Yi's TPR will still be way over 2600. And so, as soon as the game started, Wei Yi became a grandmaster!

Born 2 June 1999, Wei Yi became a GM at 13 years, 8 months and 24 days. He is now the 4th youngest GM of all time, behind Sergey Karjakin, Parimarjan Negi and Magnus Carlsen. Incidentally, Wei Yi kicked his compatriot Bu Xiangzhi, who is also playing in Reykjavik, to 4th place in the list of players to become grandmasters before their fifteenth birthday:

No. Player Country Age
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, 24 days
5. Bu Xiangzhi China 13 years, 10 months, 13 days
6. Richárd Rapport Hungary 13 years, 11 months, 6 days
7. Teimour Radjabov Azerbaijan 14 years, 0 months, 14 days
8. Ruslan Ponomariov Ukraine 14 years, 0 months, 17 days
9. Wesley So Philippines 14 years, 1 month, 28 days
10. Étienne Bacrot France 14 years, 2 months, 0 days
11. Jorge Cori Peru 14 years, 2 months[5]
12. Illya Nyzhnyk Ukraine 14 years, 3 months, 2 days
13. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave France 14 years, 4 months
14. Péter Lékó Hungary 14 years, 4 months, 22 days
15. Hou Yifan China 14 years, 6 months, 16 days
16. Anish Giri Netherlands 14 years, 7 months, 2 days
17. Yuriy Kuzubov Ukraine 14 years, 7 months, 12 days
18. Dariusz Swiercz Poland 14 years, 7 months, 29 days
19. Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son Vietnam 14 years, 10 months
20. Daniil Dubov Russia 14 years, 11 months, 14 days
21. Ray Robson United States 14 years, 11 months, 16 days
22. Fabiano Caruana Italy 14 years, 11 months, 20 days

Here's Wei Yi's victory over Vachier-Lagrave:

PGN string

After this game we spoke to Wei Yi. (At that point it wasn't a 100% clear yet whether he'd make the norm.)

Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, 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.


Para's picture

Very mature for someone so young. Extremely bright and precocious.

clevlandsten's picture

He got his first GM norm just a while ago at WJCC confirmed here and at the time he was just FM!

Mart Smeets's picture

Lagrave played far too agressively and lost mainly against himself

Jocky's picture

the chinese are the Borg of sports now, we are all wasting our time resistance is futile.

RG13's picture

It's o.k. because Species 8472 from fluidic space will show the Borgs what time it is! "The weak shall perish!"

B L's picture

When I was 13 I sounded like I was 8 - he sounds like he's 38.

noyb's picture

Bravo! I'd just begun to learn to play at that age...

Anonymous's picture

Congratulations to Wei Yi...that said I think it's an impressive achievement! That said I like how he has a calm manner - that said, he seems very stable which is surprising in one so young.

That said, I am looking forward to his next tournament.

harami's picture

Wei Yi is 13 yrs? Which calendar do the Chinese follow? He looks more like 18 to me, his voice is well developed and all, seems to be a confident young man.

Congrats for the GM norm. Good job there!

Greetings from India

strana's picture

He is just 13. Look at his pictures since 2009.
If we consider that chinese players are almost always underrated, Wei Yi was playing GM strenght since he was 11-12. I believe that in less than 10 years China will be stronger than Russia.

baladala's picture

"I believe that in less than 10 years China will be stronger than Russia."
This was my expectation already 10 years ago. But it did not happen. Let's discuss in 10 years again.

redivivo's picture

There's still not that many Chinese top players, for example Armenia have more 2600+ players than China have and Armenia only have 3 million inhabitants while China have close to 1.4 billion.

Thomas Oliver's picture

One shouldn't compare it to the total population but to the total chess population: Armenia has 271 players with an active FIDE rating (25 GMs, 10 rated above 2600). China has 229 active players (22 GMs, now 23, 9 rated above 2600).

Hence the two countries are pretty comparable chess-wise, but China doesn't have much of a chess tradition (or only for Chinese chess). Both countries have a number of talented, probably hard-working players who get significant state support. Both countries are "top-heavy" with about one GM per ten active players. Most countries don't even get close to this - from the ones I checked only Azerbaijan (17 for 265) and Georgia (19 for 22).

Thomas Oliver's picture

This should - of course - be 19 for 262 for Georgia. BTW Iceland (11 GMs for 269 active players) also scores rather high on a relative scale.

redivivo's picture

"One shouldn't compare it to the total population"

The comparison shows that chess is many times bigger in Armenia than China, so I don't think China will replace Russia in a decade. The Russian 2700+ players still outnumber China's 2600+ players, but there are some very talented young Chinese players.

Looking at the juniors rated above Wei Yi, there are three Chinese (Hou Yifan being one of them), but seven Russians, five Indians, and four Ukrainians. Might not say much though.

Thomas Oliver's picture

I would say my comparison shows that chess has about the same "absolute" size in Armenia and China - the countries would be closely comparable if, for some reason, chess was played only in one Chinese city with 3 million inhabitants. As it stands, China may have more unused potential. But what is unused potential? People who do not (yet) play chess but would be talented, or talented existing chess players who lack ambition and/or support to realize their full potential? By both definitions, Armenia may be close to its upper limit.

The difference between Wei Yi and those ahead of him on the junior rating list is that he is still very young (*1999). One has to go to 1996 to find three players clearly stronger than him (Rapport, Nyzhnyk and Dubov).
The future will tell what this means - people had high hopes or expectations for Bu Xiangzhi but he didn't exactly become a world-top player. By now he is #6 on the Chinese rating list, overtaken by five younger players. It's partly a similar story for Negi, now 19 or 20 years old.

strana's picture

It is interesting how fanatic you are for ratings. You do not consider the nationality of the players. Asian players are clearly underrated compared to Europe or America. Look at Vietnam: they finished in the 7th position last Olympics despite having a low rating. A 2400 chinese plays 2550+ in Europe. China has many many players with GM strenght but are only IM or FM.

Crow T Robot's picture

well now that is just insane. They will produce many grandmasters but the very top Russian players will outclass their Chinese counterparts for a few more decades at least.

Sir Brilliance's picture

No offense to this kid in particular...he seems intelligent and mature. But honestly, he's one in 1.3 billion. The kid from India was 1 of 1.2 billion. Its not remarkable given the numbers. The Chinese are one of the most deeply and openly racist cultures on the planet. Let's hope this kid doesn't follow in the path of his elders.

Columbo's picture

Have you been to China ? Or are you watching too much tv ?

Anonymous's picture

We don't know your race, but we all know who is being racist here.

Columbo's picture

Congratulations young man ! I've been following his games in Iceland and although it's true Lagrave was too agressive wei yi played extremely accuratly... He is today 2524 elos, very impressive ! One more shot at Cheparinov and he will be my hero :)

elgransenor1's picture

don't the chinese and indians always lie about the ages of these juniors?

Anonymous's picture

The whole world is a big lier ! Now you can go back to sleep COnGRATS Mister Wei Yi

Anonymous's picture

a 2661 perf for the young GM ! superb !

Yuri's picture

With a name like that I wonder if the Chinese kid is really a Geordie.

Expect him to be a real threat to the world title within the next 5-10 years. He's a brilliant young talent.

Anonymous's picture

Too soon to tell ! Many great young prodigies failed to climb the hard road and rich the top

Anonymous's picture

He knocked out Rapport last year with black in an exquisite nimzo defense

errorbyte's picture

Today, he defeats Shirov!!!

errorbyte's picture

tomorrow, he will defeat one of the big fish like karjakin or aronian. With a good coach of course!!!

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