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Sergey Karjakin

Full name Sergey Alexandrovich Karjakin
Country Ukraine (until 2009)
Russia (since 2009)
Born January 12, 1990
Simferopol, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
Title Grandmaster
Peak rating 2788 (July 2011)

Sergey Alexandrovich Karjakin (Ukrainian: Сергій Олександрович Карякін, Serhiy Oleksandrovych Karjakin; Russian: Серге́й Алекса́ндрович Каря́кин; born January 12, 1990) is a Ukrainian-born Russian chess grandmaster. He was a chess prodigy and holds the record for the world's youngest Grandmaster, at the age of 12 years and 7 months.

Karjakin won the 2012 World Rapid Chess Championship and the Chess World Cup 2015. He also won the Norway Chess Tournament twice (2013, 2014) and the Corus Chess Tournament in 2009.

He has competed in six Chess Olympiads, three times for Ukraine and three times for Russia, winning three gold medals, two silver and a bronze. He was a member of the gold medal-winning Russian team at the World Team Chess Championship in Antalya in 2013.


Karjakin was born in Simferopol. He learned to play chess when he was five years old and became an IM at age 11 years and 11 months. In 2001, he won the World Chess U12 championship. He first attracted attention in January 2002, when he was the official second of fellow Ukrainian Ruslan Ponomariov during the final of the 2002 FIDE World championship, though Karjakin had only just turned 12 at the time. By scoring GM norms at the Aeroflot tournament in Moscow later that month, the Alushta tournament in May 2002 and the international tournament in Sudak in August 2002, he surpassed Bu Xiangzhi to become the youngest grandmaster in the history of chess at the age of 12 years and exactly 7 months - a record that still stands.

At 14 he defeated the reigning world champion, Vladimir Kramnik, during the 2004 Dortmund Sparkassen Chess Meeting, in a blitz game. That year, Karjakin was the only human to win against a computer in the Man vs Machine World Team Championship in Bilbao, Spain, where he was the youngest and lowest rated player, beating Deep Junior. Later that year Karjakin finished second to Boris Gelfand at the Pamplona, Navarra tournament, held from December 20 to December 29.

Karjakin entered the world's top 100 in the April 2005 FIDE list, where he was number 64 in the world with an Elo rating of 2635. He scored 8½ (+7−3=1) to win the Young Stars of the World tournament held in Kirishi, Russia from May 14 to May 26. Practicing before the tournament with Nigel Short in Greece, Karjakin was involved in a car accident on the way to the Athens airport and suffered minor injuries. Afterwards, Short remarked that he had "almost changed the path of chess history by allowing the (potential) future World Champion to be killed while in my care".

Rise to the top

During the Chess World Cup 2007, which served as a qualification tournament for the World Chess Championship 2009, Karjakin reached the semi-finals, in which he lost to Alexei Shirov. On the January 2008 FIDE rating list, published just before Karjakin's 18th birthday, he passed the 2700 mark for the first time, often seen as the line that separates "elite" players from other grandmasters, with a new rating of 2732 and a world rank of 13.

In July 2008 Karjakin convincingly won a rapid chess match against GM Nigel Short 7½-2½. In February 2009 he won his first elite tournament in the A group of the Corus chess tournament in Wijk aan Zee (category XIX) with a score of 8/13.

Later he also won the ACP World Rapid Cup which was conducted from 27 May to 29 May 2010, defeating Dmitry Jakovenko in the final by 4-3.

The next year, Karjakin shared first place (second on tiebreak) with Magnus Carlsen at the Bazna Kings Tournament and third place with Vassily Ivanchuk and Ian Nepomniachtchi in the category 22 Tal Memorial in Moscow.

In July 2012 Karjakin won the World Rapid Chess Championship a full point ahead of world number one Magnus Carlsen in Astana, Kazakhstan. In the same month, he also tied for first at Dortmund with Fabiano Caruana but came in second after tiebreak.

In Nov-Dec 2012 Karjakin shared first place with Wang Hao and Alexander Morozevich with 6.5/9 in the FIDE Grand Prix event held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

In March 2014, he finished in second place in the FIDE Candidates Tournament held in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, behind Viswanathan Anand.

In June 2014 Karjakin won the Norway Chess tournament for the second year running. In this tournament he competed against nine other players, six of which were rated in the FIDE top 10.

Karjakin won the Chess World Cup 2015 in dramatic fashion after going down 0-2 to former World Cup Champion Peter Svidler, eventually winning 6-4 in blitz tiebreaks.

Personal life

Karjakin married Galia Kamalova in May 2014. He was previously married to Ukrainian Woman Grandmaster Kateryna Dolzhikova.

On July 25, 2009, Karjakin adopted Russian citizenship.