The profile analysis of the youngest GM in chess, Abhimanyu Mishra 


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When Dr. Barry Hymer retired as Chessable’s Chief Science Officer in April of 2022, chess research was already in progress. One of Dr. Hymer’s projects was with Dr. Nemanja Vaci of the University of Sheffield. Vaci’s Chess Prodigy Project continued with Chessable’s support under Chessable’s new Chief Science Officer Dr. Alexey Root. In this blog post, Dr. Vaci and his colleagues report on their profile analysis of Grandmaster (GM) Abhimanyu Mishra.

The profile analysis of the youngest GM in chess, Abhimanyu Mishra by Daisy Matthews, Merim Bilalić, Roland Grabner, and Nemanja Vaci

In the realm of human achievement, there exists a rare and captivating phenomenon — the emergence of child prodigies. These individuals defy expectations, showcasing unparalleled abilities in areas ranging from music and mathematics to art and science. The term child prodigy conjures images of youthful virtuosos effortlessly playing complex compositions, solving mathematical equations, or creating works of art that defy the limitations of their age. Yet, behind these remarkable displays of talent lie factors that support and enable the manifestation and development of extraordinary abilities. In collaboration with the Chessable platform, we embarked on a project to investigate the interplay of these factors and how they gave rise to the youngest grandmaster in chess, GM Abhimanyu Mishra.

Abhimanyu (Abhi) earned the grandmaster (GM) title when he was 12 years, 4 months, and 25 days old in 2021[1], beating Sergey Karjakin’s 19-year-old record of obtaining the GM title aged 12 years and 7 months. Abhi was introduced to chess at an early age through stories told by his family using the chess board, while his first rated tournament was when he was 5 years old. Early introduction to the domain of expertise in combination with several factors enabled an unprecedented increase in Abhi’s chess knowledge and skill (Figure 1).

A graph of age and age

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The progression of Elo Rating, a measure of relative skill in chess, over the age of the top 20 youngest-ever grandmaster players. Abhi’s progression is highlighted in pink colour. The table shows the peak Elo rating and mean change of rating over the age of Abhi, as well as the mean peak rating and mean change of rating for the top 19 youngest GMs up to the age of 20 years.

To understand factors and behaviours that support these accomplishments, we collected responses from the young prodigy and his peers on several questionnaires that measure intellectual abilities, chess-related motivation, personality profiles and emotional processing, as well as practice activities and time spent training and playing chess. We collected information from over 260 chess players, where Abhi was indeed one of the youngest (Figure 2a) but also one of the most prolific players, as indicated by his Elo rating (Figure 2b). We also engaged in in-depth interviews with Abhi, his father (Hemant Mishra), and the coaching staff (GM Arun Prasad) where we discussed their perceptions of Abhi’s skills and factors that enabled early development of expertise. In this short article, we present some of the preliminary findings.

Figure 2. Frequency distribution of age (A) and Elo scores (B) variables


We asked players to estimate how many hours during a typical week they would engage in tournaments and official games, for fun games, training or studying chess, and passively involve themselves in chess games, such as watching chess games online. Abhi’s results showcased an impressive amount of time spent training chess in comparison to the general sample of chess players (Ericsson et al., 1993), as well as motivation to learn chess. In contrast, the other chess-related activities, such as fun and passive hours spent in chess games were comparable to the sample.

Figure 3. Mean hours per week spent on different chess-related learning activities

This focus on training chess skills was reflected in the interviews, where both Abhi and his father reckoned that he spends around 8 to 10 hours per day focusing on chess, while his coach, GM Prasad, recalled Abhi having 2-hour long training sessions when he was 6 years old (“double of other kids his age”). The discussions about motivation are similarly revealing, where Abhi discusses his motivation to succeed and improve in chess, even though this was not always present as indicated by discussions with his family. They recall that his initial motivation was to “watch his friends or other players’ games, rather than winning.” Finally, both Abhi and the coach believe that substantial motivation come from the father’s encouragement, illustrating family involvement and support.

How does one do it?

Beyond deliberate practice, Abhi exhibits personality and emotional traits that might have a synergistic role with his focused approach to mastering skills (see Vollstädt-Klein et al., 2010). The conscientiousness trait, which describes organized, reliable, and goal-driven individuals, is markedly high. This better organization and planning of activities as well as a diligent approach to focused training allows Abhi to maximize gains in learning situations, while a goal-oriented approach helps him to put in the hours needed to reach stellar levels of expertise. The coaching staff, GM Prasad, vouched for Abhi’s ability to focus for long periods from a very young age and Abhi’s willingness to not only do his homework but go beyond it every time (“Abhi understands the importance of learning… he will never give up”). Finally, Abhi’s father discussed ways in which he nurtured these patterns of behaviour: “We came up with the concept of no free gifts, so everything has to be earned… every time he received a gift, he had to solve the puzzle to be able to open it.

Figure 4. Frequency distribution of Conscientiousness (A) and Negative emotionality score (B)

Dealing with setbacks

Another personality trait that might support the development of expertise and willingness to stay in the competitive domain is the concept of negative emotionality (see also Blanch & Llaveria, 2021). This measure reflects the extent to which individuals experience negative emotions, such as anxiety, depression, and anger when exposed to stressful events. Abhi scored lower than average on this scale, showcasing an emotionally stable and resilient personality. Given the competitive setting of chess games, the emotional management of losses is an important task for every contestant, which might be easier for players who exhibit lower levels of negative emotionality. This trait was highlighted in all interviews, where both Abhi and his father Hemant indicated that he always recovered from losses very quickly (management of outcomes), while GM Prasad remarked that Abhi would get frustrated in certain situations but would never completely give up (management of emotions during games).

What is in the future?

When discussing the future, Abhi says the plan for him is to reach the 2700 Elo points milestone. Looking forward, GM Prasad believes that any out of the top 10 players can become the world chess champion, but what separates Magnus Carlsen is his attitude towards winning and if Abhi can develop that special approach he can get there as well.

If you enjoy playing chess, check our online study and help us answer research questions:


Blanch, A., & Llaveria, A. (2021). Ability and non-ability traits in chess skill. Personality and Individual Differences, 179, 110909.

Ericsson, K. A., Krampe, R. T., & Tesch-Römer, C. (1993). The role of deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance. Psychological review, 100(3), 363.

Mishra, A. (2022). The Youngest Chess Grandmaster in the World: The Chess Adventures of Abhimanyu Mishra Aged 12 years, 4 months, and 25 days. New In Chess. ISBN: 9789493257412

Vollstädt-Klein, S., Grimm, O., Kirsch, P., & Bilalić, M. (2010). Personality of elite male and female chess players and its relation to chess skill. Learning and Individual Differences, 20(5), 517-521.

Interested in research?

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  1. As described in the Youngest Chess Grandmaster in the World (Mishra, 2022), Abhi and his team set up incremental goals, allowing him to reach title of youngest GM in the world, but also youngest International Master (10 years and 9 months), USA National Master (9 years and 2 months), and Expert (7 years and 6 months) titles.

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