Wei Yi: Youngest Grandmaster of all Time

The Chinese chess grandmaster Wei Yi is currently considered the first serious future challenge for Magnus Carlsen. For two reasons: He was born June 2, 1999 and is therefore only fifteen years old at the moment. Since March 2015, he has ranged above the mark of 2700 ELO points and became the youngest Super-Grandmaster of all time – and took over the first of Carlsen’s records.

Wie Yi


Wei Yi’s development is a rocket-like ascend

At the young age of eight, the boy participated at the Chinese Chess Championship (Group B) and as a total newcomer scored a draw against Grandmaster Zhou Jianchao.

Wei won the 2010 Asian Youth Championship in the category Under 12 and shortly after the Youth World Championship. He was rewarded with the FIDE Master title thereafter.

He fulfilled the IM norm in 2012 at the Aeroflot Open in Moscow and at the Asian Individual Championship in Ho-Chi-Minh City. The victory over Richard Rapport and a draw against winner Alexander Ipatov helped him reach the first GM norm at the Youth World Championship in Athens. For this tournament only participants under twenty years old were admitted, Wei Yi was only twelve at that time. A few months later, he fulfilled the second GM norm at the 2nd INA Open in Jakarta, at which he prevailed over Michael Krasenkow and Sergey Fedorchuk.

In January 2013, Wei Yi became International Master.

In March, he competed at the Reykjavik Open, defeated Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and thus fulfilled the third GM norm. His performance at the Chess World Cup in Tromsö was remarkable as well – with victories over favorite players Ian Nepomniachtchi and Alexey Shirov he made if two third round, which is when he lost to Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.

He was announced Grandmaster in May 2013. At the age of fourteen and about five months, Wei held an astonishing ELO of 2602 points and thus became youngest player in history who surpassed a rating of 2600 points.

The story of success continued when Wei Yi helped the Chinese national chess team to win the gold medal at the Chess Olympics in Tromsö in August 2014, and when Group B dominated with 10.5 points out of 13 duels at the Tata Steel Chess Tournament in Vijk aan Zee the following January. Without a single defeat on his account, he achieved a better ELO-rating (2804) and David Navara and qualified for joining Group A of the same tournament in the 2016 edition at which only the world’s best players compete.

In February 2015, he achieved a shared 3rd to 11th rank at the Tradewise Gibraltar Masters and improved his rating to 2706 points. He rapidly advanced to rank 40 of the worldwide standings. In March, his rating of 2706 points was officially approved, which makes him the youngest player since implementation of the ELO rating system who holds an ELO of 2700 and above.

We dedicated an article to the question of whether China is becoming the world’s new chess nation and Wei Yi will grow to become the next Magnus Carlsen. Only three months later, the question is now more discussed than ever before. There is potential in the enthusiastic Wei Yi, without doubt. What the future holds for him depends on how he uses and utilizes his talent. Magnus Carlsen, for sure, should get ready.

written by Sarah, translated by Birthe