Prodigy Watchlist – September Updates

With the release of FIDE’s September ratings list we have updated our Current Prodigy Watchlist page. In the past we have simply updated the page and moved on, but this time around we’re going to experiment with a little actual discussion of the changes.

Top Players:

Wei Yi continues to maintain a #1 prodigy rank, as the Chinese wunderkind’s rating rose to a new personal record of 2734 this month! He now shows up not only as the highest rated U17 player ever (he is currently just 16.26 years old), but also the second highest rated U18 player ever, tied for being the third highest rated U19 player ever, the fifth highest rated U20 player ever, and even the tenth highest rated U21 player ever! That’s right, he could go almost five years without his rating improving, and STILL be a top ten player of all time, for his age. The kid is good, and his future is bright, is what we’re saying. Of course this probably isn’t news to anyone interested enough in young chess talents to spend their time reading our prodigy update post.

Nodirbek Abdusattorov also remains at #1 for his age. Now 10.95 years old and still rated 2432, this Uzbek prodigy hasn’t seen his rating change since the July list, and remains a touch below his lifetime peak of 2465, but has a lot of time to bounce back. Other than Abdusattorov, the youngest age at which any player has ever been rated higher than 2432 is 11.98 years (Sergey Karjakin), so Nodirbeck has a full year in which to improve upon his record without any challengers from history.

John M Burke is the most shocking of our three youngsters with #1 ranks. Two months ago on the July rating list he was rated 2258 and had an impressive, but decidedly not historic, prodigy rank of 207, meaning there were 206 players we know of rated higher than him at (or before) the age of 14.01 years. Then the August list was released and he had gained 280 rating points! We added him to our database, and his new 2538 rating was enough to earn him an initial prodigy rank last month of #10. He achieved these games with a 16/25 score in three events, against opponents with an average rating of 2368. This is a performance rating of 2470, so it’s a little odd it was enough to spike his rating to over 2538, but his expected score would have been only 8.75 points in the 25 games, and the 7.25 extra points times a k-factor of 40 got him his gains (note that the games are rated individually, which is why he gained “only” 280 points, not the 290 the above numbers would indicate, but for looking in aggregate at multiple events it’s a good way to estimate rating changes). Full details of his August rating gains can be seen here (login might be required, but it’s a free account to set up).

Now this month his rating went up yet again! His rating change in September is due to his 6.5/9 performance at the US Cadet tournament, average opponent 2223. Still not exactly proof of 2600 playing strength, it’s a performance rating of under 2400, but based on when the event was played his rating adjustments were still made based on his old rating of 2258, and so it was enough to earn him 63 more rating points. Burke is now rated 2601 at the age of 14.18 years! He is officially the youngest player ever rated over 2600 (breaking Wei Yi’s previous record of 14.43 years – third fastest was Wesley So who broke the 2600 barrier at 14.99).

Going forward, we will see whether Burke is able to justify his record setting ratings. If he continues posting performance ratings in the 2450 range he will start losing rating points, even though over the past two months that was enough for gains. Of course we can expect him to be playing stronger opponents in future events, so we’ll have to see what happens against other GM level opponents (despite the rating Burke himself remains untitled, with no GM norms, and just one IM norm, earned so far.) Burke did beat two GMs on these events (including one rated 2562), so while there’s reason to be skeptical of his rating there are also signs he can play at that level. It will be interesting to watch his upcoming results!

Javokhir Sindarov gained 23 rating points with his 8.5/9 performance at the Asian Youth Chess Championships and is now rated 2221 at the tender age of 9.73 years, maintaining his prodigy rank of 3.

Vincent Keymer only added 4 rating points, and is now 2356 (just below his peak of 2365). We still don’t know his birthday, so currently have him at 11.67 years old (his maximum age, if born on January 1st), which gives him a prodigy rank of 4, also unchanged from last month. If any readers could track down the German star’s actual birthday for us that would be great!

Vladislav Artemiev is, in our view, something of a forgotten prodigy. Overshadowed by Wei Yi, he is over a year older and over 50 points lower rated, so he gets very little credit, but we should remember that Wei Yi’s results are ridiculous and it’s no shame not to match them. Artemiev is the 67th highest rated player in the world at just 17.49 years old! And he just posted a very respectable even score in the extremely strong Russian Superfinal event, bringing his rating to a new peak of 2675. This is the tenth highest rating ever achieved by an U18 player, and of course he still has six more months to improve his standing in that particular measure.

Samuel Sevian is the last player on our list with a prodigy rank of 10 or better (a top ten player of all time, for his age). Most recently he performed to expectations in his last event (Washington International) for a small gain of three rating points. He’s now rated 2556 at the age of 14.68 years.

Big Gainers:

Aleksander Tashev of Bulgaria earned almost 100 rating points in four events and now has a prodigy rank of 22, up from a rank of 44 last month, now rated 2048 at an age no higher than 9.66 (another of our unknown birthdays – it’s somewhat reassuring that at least sometimes it can be hard to find the birthday of 10 year old kids online).

Volodar Murzin of Russia sits just behind Tashev at 2039, also born in 2006 (birthday also unknown) for a prodigy rank of 23. This is by virtue of a gain of 135 rating points in a month, last month we only had Murzin’s prodigy rank at 60, not enough for inclusion on our published list.

M. Amin Tabatabei of Iran is another player we mentioned in our article about the Asian Youth Championships, not because he competed but rather because he skipped that event in favor of the Asian Continental Championship, eschewing youth competition to instead take on the top players on the continent. This effort was rewarded with a small rating gain, followed by larger gains at the U16 Olympiad, where his excellent 9/10 score on board two helped lead his team to overall victory! Ultimately he improved his rating to a personal record 2488 (he is 14.57 years old), and his prodigy rank jumped up to 28, from 48 last month.

There were several other players who made big jumps too, but that’s all we’ll highlight for now as this article is pushing over 1200 words. Let us know what other prodigies you would like to see a little blurb about!

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