He's the Youngest Ever to Beat a Chess Grandmaster

'I feel very proud of myself,' says 8-year-old Ashwath Kaushik
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 20, 2024 11:42 AM CST
He's the Youngest Ever to Beat a Chess Grandmaster
Players attend the FIDE World Chess Championship in Astana, Kazakhstan, on April 29, 2023.   (AP Photo/Stanislav Filippov, File)

On Feb. 12, Leonid Ivanovic of Serbia became the youngest chess player to beat a grandmaster in a classical game at 8 years, 11 months, and 7 days. His record stood only six days until Sunday, when an even younger chess prodigy stole the title. Ashwath Kaushik—aged 8 years, 6 months, and 11 days—defeated 37-year-old Jacek Stopa of Poland in round four of the Burgdorfer Stadthaus Open in Switzerland, per CNN. It was a feat that has only turned more attention toward Ashwath, who was crowned World Under-8 Rapid champion in 2022, per Chess.com. "It's a very exciting feeling," Ashwath, who was seeded 59th out of 127 participants but finished the tournament in 12th place, tells the Singapore Star. "I feel very proud of myself."

Though not yet 9, Ashwath has been playing chess for nearly five years. He started at age 4 and within months could beat his parents and grandparents. He now practices up to seven hours a day on weekends, per the Guardian. "It's really fun and it helps your brain get better and smarter because in chess you need a lot of thinking to find the best moves," Ashwath tells the Star. "The chess world has recently been witnessing a surge in children scoring extraordinary results at an even earlier age, perhaps propelled by the pandemic and a rating system lagging behind in keeping pace with their rise in strength," reads a post from Chess.com following Leonid Ivanovic's record-breaking win over 59-year-old Milko Popchev of Bulgaria in a tournament in Serbia.

Leonid was the first player under the age of 9 to defeat a grandmaster in classical chess. For comparison, the outlet notes that the renowned Magnus Carlsen was over the age of 12 when he first beat a grandmaster in 2003. The youngest ever grandmaster, Abhimanyu Mishra, was aged 9 years and 10 months when he first defeated a grandmaster, per Chess.com. Another young chess prodigy to make headlines recently: England's Bodhana Sivanandan. The 8-year-old was crowned best female player at the European Rapid and Blitz Championships in Croatia in December after becoming the youngest player to draw a grandmaster in a competitive game, per Global News. As Dutch grandmaster Anish Giri writes on X, "8 is the new 12." (More chess stories.)

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