Monday, September 01, 2014


No Duffer: Kazakh Teen Stakes Claim To Being Chess World's Youngest Grandmaster

Zhansaya Abdimalik in her hometown of Almaty on June 27
Zhansaya Abdimalik in her hometown of Almaty on June 27
Kazakhstan's chess body has posited a case for making a 12-year-old Kazakh schoolgirl the youngest female grandmaster in the world.

Zhansaya Abdimalik, sporting a baseball cap and the composure of a veteran, was introduced to the wider public by the deputy head of the Kazakh Chess Federation on June 27.

The official, Erkin Israilov, said an application on Abdimalik's behalf would be sent to the World Chess Federation (FIDE) later this week, according to RFE/RL's Kazakh Service.

READ RFE/RL's archived interview with Abdimalik from 2011 (in Russian)

The grandmaster criteria include a rating based on relative strength in head-to-head matches and quality finishes over a series of tournaments.

Her grandmother told RFE/RL that Abdimalik earned the title with her results in tournaments in Indonesia, Russia, and Ukraine.

The title of grandmaster is bestowed for life.

Ukraine's Kateryna Lahno, who was 12 years and four months old when she was granted the title in 1992, currently holds the record for the youngest-ever female grandmaster.

It's not so long ago that women weren't even considered for such status by the male-dominated chess elite. The first female grandmaster was Georgian Nona Gaprindoshvili in 1978.

No one can accuse Kazakhstan's braided chess prodigy of failing to plan ahead.

Abdimalik told RFE/RL in an interview last year that being the youngest grandmaster was just one of her two dreams. The other was to become the youngest world champion ever (of either gender). For now, that record belongs to Hou Yifan of China, who was 16 when she won the title in 2010 (she repeated the feat in 2011).

That gives Almaty's most precocious resident nearly four years to work on her game -- an eternity to a 12-year-old.

-- Andy Heil
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Mark from: England
June 28, 2012 12:43
Please do some fact checking before posting an article like this. The title Abdimalik is applying for is Woman Grandmaster (WGM), not Grandmaster (GM). If successful, she will indeed be the youngest WGM of all time, but that title is significantly less strong than that of GM - Abdimalik is not even listed in the top twenty female players under the age of 20 by FIDE. Kateryna Lahno was the youngest WGM of all time, but the youngest female GM of all time was Hou Yifan who gained the title when she was 14. Poorly researched articles like this do nothing for chess.
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
June 28, 2012 17:42
Article sertainly wouldn't do much for chess propaganda
For Russia-Brits-Germo-Austrio pact of 1954-56 "banda",
But it is refreshing that nice girl from Kazakhstan is trying.
What set you off for comment? Proper Brit? - I don't buy it.

Probably her looks close to Georgian girl - sore in your eye,
As movie in USA "man from Kazakhstan", by Russia spies,
Of propaganda - said all about Russian hate nations in CIS.
Article said Kazakhstan only "posited a case" - Rashka liers.
In Response

by: Andy
June 29, 2012 05:48
Thanks for your comment, Mark. Obviously, we did use the term "female grandmaster" (not capitalized) throughout, rather than "Woman Grandmaster." To be honest, I'm not sure that disqualifies that or any other aspects of this piece. Our comparison was to Lahno (who, as you point out, was the youngest-ever "Woman Grandmaster"), so we're obviously comparing apples to apples, aren't we? It's true, we abbreviate it to just "grandmaster" in the headline, but that seems to me a fair liberty to take for a headline (particularly when you're trying to squeeze words like "Kazakhstan" and "grandmaster" into a small space). I'd actually noticed during the preparation of the item that Abdimalik wasn't among the top-rated younger players; but we merely point out that she obviously feels she's deserving of the title, as does the Kazakh federation, and all they can do is apply, right? We're not presuming to respond on FIDE's behalf.
Again, thanks for the clarification. We'll bear all of your remarks in mind.

by: Konstantin from: Vancouver
June 29, 2012 06:19
So far her FIDE rating is 2141 ELO. Is it enough for GM?!

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