Current Prodigy Watchlist

This is our list of young players whose current rating is one of the 50 highest ratings ever achieved at or before that player’s current age. The “Prodigy Rank” column shows exactly where that player ranks for his or her age.

As with all of our Prodigy Watch data, this list comes with a few caveats. The rank is within our existing data set, which is not guaranteed to be 100% complete. The younger the players we are discussing, the more likely there are to be others who were rated higher at a younger age, that are not yet in our database. As always, if you believe you know of players who should be in our database, but are not, please contact us with the name and we’ll add them in!

The maximum age to be included in this list (updated as of the July, 2016 FIDE ratings list, ages are as of 1/1/2016) is 19. If you’re older than 19, FIDE no longer considers you a “junior”, and we no longer consider you a “prodigy”. If you’re still earning a high “prodigy rank” beyond the age of 19, it just means you’re one of the best players in the world. Not the best “for your age”, but just overall. Prodigy status is no longer relevant at that point – sorry Magnus!

FIDE ID Player Name Age Rating Federation July Prodigy Rank January 2016
14205483 Javokhir Sindarov 10.56 2374 UZB 2 13
25059530 R Praggnanandhaa 10.89 2429 IND 2 17
8603405 Wei Yi 17.08 2696 CHN 3 2
34155748 Ilya Makoveev 10.16 2225 RUS 4 6
2047640 Jeffery Xiong 15.67 2641 USA 4 12
1444948 Jonas Bjerre 12.01 2396 DEN 6 146
12573981 Alireza Firouzja 13.04 2481 IRI 6 6
14204118 Nodirbek Abdusattorov 11.78 2375 UZB 7 1
12940690 Vincent Keymer 11.62 2341 GER 8 5
2040506 Samuel Sevian 15.51 2595 USA 10 10
2070901 John M Burke 15.00 2571 USA 11 3
25092340 Nihal Sarin 11.97 2358 IND 13 37
1170546 Jan-Krzysztof Duda 18.18 2671 POL 14 14
2056437 Awonder Liang 13.23 2430 USA 19 18
24101605 Vladislav Artemiev 18.32 2653 RUS 19 11
2061074 Ruifeng Li 14.80 2535 USA 21 38
1226380 Bogdan-Daniel Deac 14.73 2520 ROU 24 34
14129574 Kirill Shevchenko 13.77 2443 UKR 27 50
35042025 Aditya Mittal 10.50 2141 IND 28 64
24175439 Andrey Esipenko 14.28 2477 RUS 29 50
30911370 Justin Wang 11.50 2242 USA 33 67
1039784 Jorden Van Foreest 17.17 2584 NED 41 55
5084423 Aryan Chopra 14.72 2483 IND 42 44
712779 Benjamin Gledura 16.99 2574 HUN 43 77
46616543 Gukesh D 10.50 2092 IND 45 35
1510045 Aryan Tari 17.08 2571 NOR 45 45
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51 thoughts on “Current Prodigy Watchlist

    • Unfortunately, Smirnov being #2 says more about the current crop of U14 players (relative to chess history) than it says about him particularly. On the February 2015 ratings list, Smirnov was rated 2410 at the age of 14.02 years. By that age, Carlsen was already 2581, and all told there were 54 different players who boasted a rating higher than Smirnov’s 2410. Even Smirnov’s peak rating of 2432 only rates him the 36th highest rated player at or before his current age.

      Our current philosophy with the prodigy watchlist is to focus on those youngsters who aren’t just impressive compared to other current players of their age, but who are historically impressive among all players ever, given their age. At the moment our entirely arbitrary cutoff is 20th best of all time, which Smirnov doesn’t qualify as.

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      • It’s interesting isn’t it though? Smirnov has had almost no chances to play international chess, but look at what’s happened when he did. You say that those U14s weren’t very good and by implication neither is Smirnov.

        2014 Olympiad aged 13: board 5, 7.5/9 performance rating 2533 gained 44,4 rp
        2016 Olympiad aged 15: board 4 8.5/10 performance rating 2740 gained 31,8 rp Gained two GM norms.

        Match of the Millenials: he was outstanding for the World Team

        Now in the World Cup in Round one he is playing for the first time in his life a player over 2700. And what does he do? With absolute poise he has drawn both Classic games against Karjakin.

        Smirnov, like all Australians, has almost no chance to play strong chess. But look at what happens when he is given the opportunity.

        Perhaps the conclusion is – not surprisingly with juniors – that rating doesn’t mean much.

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    • The gaps are players who achieved their ratings in the past. The “prodigy rank” is not a ranking against other current prodigies (where one player would be the “#1 current prodigy”, another would be the “#2 current prodigy”, etc…)

      Instead, the “prodigy rank” refers to where THAT prodigy’s current rating ranks historically among all ratings EVER achieved at or before his or her current age.

      It would be possible for there to be multiple players (of different ages) who all had #1 prodigy ranks at the same time. It would also be possible for there to be none, or even no prodigies with a top-five rank.

      Does that make sense?

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  1. Why did you remove Richard Rapport from your list?
    Ok, he is 19 now, but FIDE will consider him a Junior until the Januar of 2017, so for another 20! months, if I’m not mistaken. Thanks for your answer.

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    • For simplicity’s sake, I’m just using a raw cutoff of only including players 19 or under as of any given update. I chose 19 because that’s FIDE’s cutoff for “junior” players, but I’m not explicitly defining the list by eligibility as a junior.

      Rapport’s Prodigy Rank on the April 2015 list is #8, though. At 2710, he has the 8th highest rating ever achieved at or before the age of 19.02 years.

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  2. The actual ratings might be a little unfair to the prodigies of the past. The strength of Kamsky, Polgar and Leko relative in their time was much higher than someone with the same rating today.
    To make an adjustment for that maybe a comparison with a standard world class player, lets say the no 10 in the world could be made.

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    • Rating inflation is a topic I will definitely delve deeper into at some point. The older players you mention definitely were higher in the world rankings, for their age, than someone with the same rating would be today. However it’s not entirely clear whether rank or rating is the better measure.

      There is some reason to believe that rating inflation (more players having higher ratings now than in the past) is primarily a result of there being more chess players with higher skill levels today. A 2700 rated player who’s #50 in the world right now might be just as good as a 2700 rated player from 15 years ago who was #10 in the world. And if that’s the case, a prodigy who is rated higher than an older player was at the same age might be the better player. If so, does it matter if, by virtue of weaker competition, the older player was higher ranked?

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      • quote:A 2700 rated player who’s #50 in the world right now might be just as good as a 2700 rated player from 15 years ago who was #10 in the world. And if that’s the case, a prodigy who is rated higher than an older player was at the same age might be the better player. If so, does it matter if, by virtue of weaker competition, the older player was higher ranked?

        I agree that rating might represent absolute strength if we neglect the possibility of rating inflation. However do you want to get a list of the strongest players by age or the most virtuous prodigies? The latter is much harder to grasp mathematically since you have to factor in the accomplishment and NOT ONLY the playing strength aka rating.

        My point is a player achieving a 2700 rating at age 16 in the year 1950 is much much more impressive than a 16 year old player getting the same playing strength in the year 2015. Computers, databases and the possibility of internet playing 24/7 make it much easier to get the same absolute strength/rating nowadays.

        By that means former prodigies have to get an era bonus for their achievement at that time which is of course hard to evaluate mathematically. Just looking at the naked numbers is only telling half the truth when you define prodigy by achievement and not isolated by strength/rating.

        Maybe, since it is hard or impossible to factor this era bonus fairly, just make a list for each era. Maybe one era from past-1950, one from 1950-2000 (last non-computer era) and after that in 5 or 10 year steps until now or until the next big change/improvement (maybe super-AI trainers?). These eras are arbitrary but somehow you have to divide the timeline into non-computer and different degrees of computer/database/internet etc.

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  3. When looking at the current top 100 list, there are only two players under 19. Surely that must be much less than just a few years ago, when we had the likes of Carlsen, Caruana, Karjakin, So, Giri etc, that have all been in the top 100 for ages despite their (still) young age. Or am I mistaken?

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    • Caruana, So, and Giri didn’t crack the top-100 until around the time Carlsen and Karjakin turned 20, I believe, although I haven’t looked closely. Ignoring exact birthdays and just looking at birth years, for instance, the November 2009 rating list had three players born in 1990 (so “19 year olds” give or take birth months) all in the top 23: 2. Carlsen; 18. Karjakin; 23. MVL. One younger player, Caruana (born in 1992, so “17”-ish years old) was ranked 82nd.

      I guess that means there were four on that list? More than the two we have now, but they weren’t all “under” 19 either. That’s the best I can offer with a five minute analysis. Perhaps I’ll dig into it in more detail sometime later 🙂

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  4. Great list to spot immediately the potential Champions of the next 5-10 years !!
    And great how global the list has become (I wonder when we will see the first African prodigy? 😉

    But please adjust the Level of “exactness” for the age, except you have really the birth Dates down to seconds? 😉
    There are 365 days, so 3 digits should be enough: e.g. Wei Yi: 15,997 (instead of 15,9972621)
    Makes it much more readable, and without better than birth day, there is no Point for artificial exactness (or did I miss any advantage ?)

    Many thanks in advance

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  5. Great to see the “Top 50” = top 35 of the active young players !!

    Very interesting to see 18 different nationalities, and China being represented only by Wei Yi.
    Looks like the Chinese “pipeline” of young players has dried out, or are they kept hidden?
    This would mean, strong next 10y for China but then it might become even more international
    except USA continues to “buy in” Top players like So and Caruana 😉

    Looking at those 6 USA players already in the list:
    Liang, Sevian, Xiong, Wang, Hong, Bayaraa
    4 have at least Chinese sounding names 😉
    Would be interesting to know if they started up in the Chinese or in the US chess education system.

    Here the complete country count:
    6x USA, 4x RUS, 3x: IND and IRI, 2x: GER, POL, SVK, ROU, UZB
    1x: CHN, MGL, SLO, DEN, HUN, UKR, CAN, CUB, COL

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    • It’s worth keeping in mind that some of that is selection bias, as my database is NOT complete at the lower ages. By 14-15 I have pretty much everyone who was worth noticing, and if you’re listed as the 40th best 15 year old ever it’s probably pretty close to true, but especially under the ages of 10-11, if you’re listed as 40th best “ever” there might be dozens of players who were actually rated higher than you at that age that aren’t in my database yet because they never progressed further, and because I haven’t dug through enough older rating lists to find highly rated 8 year olds yet.

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  6. I see …

    Just checked “2700chess” for the top 10 players born as of year 2000:
    you got: #1 (Sevian), #2 (Xiong), #3 (Pechac), #6 (Liu), #8 (Moroni), #9 (Deac), #10 (Tabatabaei)
    you miss: #4 (Triapishko), #5 (Fawzy – from Egypt/Africa 😉 , #7 (Golubov)

    for “born as of year 2003” you got #1 – #9

    On the other hand, hardly any young Chinese player in the top of the 2700chess list except Wei Yi ….

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    • Yeah, players who are currently top 10 for their age are almost all in my database. However players that were top 10 for their age, say, two or three years ago, might not be. And some of those players might have been rated higher at the same ages, so the “prodigy rank” I calculate may overstate some of the current players for lack of comprehensive comparison. It’s why I didn’t originally go so deep as top-50.

      I am working on expanding the data set though, and getting those kids from bygone years in too! So over time these rankings will grow more meaningful. Right now, though, I’d be particularly skeptical of the 8/9 year olds, as there are very few of them even in my database and probably a lot from previous years who disappeared before they were teenagers that I haven’t added yet… but should.

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  7. was just surprised that you miss 43% (#4, #5, #7) of the top 7 “born after 2000”,
    i.e. those 14/15y top players, you mention “are almost all” in your database…
    (while you got e.g. all of the top 9 “born after 2003”, i.e. 11/12y)
    Don’t know if those three will show in your top 50 prodigy list, but imho they should be at least in your “All Players” database.

    But glad to hear that you will expand your database.

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    • They probably are top 50. My old database criteria of what rating limit warranted an add was anyone who looked like they *might* be top-20 all time for their age.

      Right now adding players is something I still do manually. Really what I need to do most is build a script to do it quickly for a lot of players and then let that script loose on old rating lists. One of these days, lol.

      Edit: Actually they aren’t top 50. #4 through #7 are all already 15, and even the highest rated (Triapishko) is “only” 2462 (aren’t our standards rather high here?). I have, already in my database, 62 players who exceeded that rating before their 15th birthdays. Ignoring the 15 year olds, the best current player not already in my database is Aleksandrov (2406, at age 14.xx), and I’ve got 56 players in my database rated 2408+ before their 14th birthdays. So it doesn’t look like I’m missing any current teenagers who would crack the top-50 for their age. I have all the kids born 2002 or later rated 2342+, which is the 50th highest rating in my database on or before someone’s 13th birthday as well.

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    • Been doing extensive additions to the database over the last two days. Burke is in the records now, but I haven’t re-run the “current prodigy watchlist” yet to factor him in. Related: do you know his actual birthday? Quick Google searching hasn’t turned it up for me.

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      • For what it’s worth, if he was born 1/1/2001 (oldest he could possibly be) then he was 14.579 years old (on August 1st). That would mean he is tied for the 15th highest rated player ever, at or before the age of 14.58 (“prodigy rank”).

        At the other end of the spectrum, if he was born 12/31/2001 and is only 13.582 years old, then he’s the 7th highest rated player ever, under the age of 13.59. So it makes a pretty big difference, but actually not as critical as I expected a full year to be. His real prodigy rank is somewhere between 7 and 15 right now.

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      • His birthday is July 1st. You can see the top 100 juniors’ birthday on FIDE site. FIDE.com > Top Players > Archive Juniors > select month year > go. (Do not use the standard Top 100 Juniors link)

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    • It’s in the works. I do have a “gender” flag in the database, but haven’t yet added enough top girls for the results to be comprehensive. As I keep adding more people to the database, though, I do have plans to emphasize adding all the top historical girls so that I can put out that list as well!

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  8. Id it possible for you to publish the full list for different years? In a spreadsheet.
    So you can check 15y3m and find
    1 wei 2014
    2. Karjakin 2008
    3 Carlsen 2007 etc
    Or 17y4m or 12y9m

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    • It would probably be possible, yeah. Down to the month, at least. I can (by specific request) calculate the list for any given age, but the more precise I get the more total lists there would be and it might get confusing in the presentation. To the nearest month is probably a good compromise, I’ll work on a spreadsheet for that 🙂

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    • True, Burke wouldn’t have cracked the list without the increased k-factor, but this is a list of published ratings by age, so it is what it is. He’ll play more games, and either justify the rating or not. If not, he’ll give back the points eventually.

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  9. In this site you can find all italian chess players birthday:
    http://www.torneionline.com/
    Look at “ Lista in formato testo ” (on the right on top).
    Here some young players:
    Francesco Sonis 04/29/2002
    Edoardo Di Benedetto 11/14/2002
    Claudio Paduano 07/11/2006
    Andrea Rindone 03/19/2007
    Sorry for my bad english!
    Angelmann

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You might want to include Machteld van Foreest, the younger sister of Jorden. She’s about 8,5 years old with a fide rating of 1781.

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  11. looking through your last updated list (Jul’16):
    1) Sindarov, Javokhir is up from 2374 (2384 max) to 2411
    (and he seems to have more chess “prodigies” in his family 😉
    Sindarov, Islombek , 9 years at 2229 (number 2 of FIDE born as of 2007; #1 is “Maulidi” from Indonesia )
    Sindarov, Khumoyun, 7 years at 1332 (number 50 of FIDE born as of 2009)
    2) Praggnanandhaa R up from 2429 to 2442
    (got youngest chess IM in history, 21 months earlier then Karjakin, 30 months earlier then Carlsen)
    3) Wei Yi up from 2696 but down from max 2737 to 2706
    4) Ilya Makoveev down from 2225 (max 2249) to 2204
    5) Jeffery Xiong up from 2641 to 2653
    ….

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  12. small correction: Praggnanandhaa got IM with 10y10m, Karjakin with 11y11m, Carlsen 12y9m – hence 13 months earlier then Karjakin and 23 months then Carlsen …

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