Abdusattorov enters the world Top 5 before the age of 20: “I always wanted to break records”


Only a select few in the annals of chess history have managed to rank among the world’s top five before their 20th birthday. General manager Nodirbek Abdusattarov has now joined this prestigious list and shares his insights with Chess.com on his rise from prodigy to chess superstar.

Latest FIDE ratings for April, released Sunday, see GM again Magnus Carlsen at the top. The Norwegian maestro holds a comfortable 27-point lead over GM Fabiano Caruana, with another 14 point gap with GM Hikaru Nakamura In third place.

However, it is Abdusattorov who steals the show, who not only breaks into the top 10 for the first time, but goes even further to crack the top five, climbing from 11th to 4th place. While there is a gap of 24 points on Nakamura, the young Uzbek is three points ahead of the world champion. Ding Liren.

The April list also sees general manager Arjun Erigaisi become the official Indian number one and enter the top 10 for the first time.
The April list also sees general manager Arjun Erigaisi become the official Indian number one and enter the top 10 for the first time.

Abdusattorov’s entry into the elite circle follows a 17-point gain after tied for first place in the Tata Steel Chess 2024 in January. He then added 15 more points by winning the Masters of Prague with a ride to spare in March.

Research by Chess.com reveals the rarity of Abdusattorov’s feat, achieved at a historically very young age. In fact, only five players have ever been in the top five before turning 20: general managers Gary Kasparov (1982), Alexei Shirov (1992) and Vladimir Kramnik (1994) reached this milestone in the 1980s and 1990s, while Carlsen (2010) and GM Alireza Firouzja (2021) complete the exclusive group.

Notable mentions include Caruana who reached seventh place at 19, general manager Gata Kamski reached eighth place with only 16, GM Veseline Topalov eighth at 18, while GM Vasyl Ivanchuk was sixth before his 20th birthday.

The highest place a player has reached before turning 20.

Speaking to Chess.com in an exclusive interview, Abdusattorov responds with a smile when informed of this feat:

“I’m pleasantly surprised to hear that. I didn’t know that. It’s a big achievement, but at the same time, it’s a big responsibility for me because it’s a whole new level. I’m really happy to ‘be there.”

Abdusattorov considers this a significant step forward in his career and believes his jump of 2720 and entry into the top 10 was a “huge breakthrough”. However, he always remained grounded, recognizing that he was just getting started. Nothing is acquired :

“I will do my best to push even more, but it will take time.”

Abdusattorov wants to break records

Abdusattorov has been eating such records for breakfast for some time during his short career. The highlight is becoming the youngest world champion in history by winning the 2021 World Rapid Championship at 17, in front of the entire world elite.

The Uzbek also holds the record for the youngest player ranked at 2400, a feat he achieved at just ten and a half years old. At the age of 11, he set a record by becoming the youngest player to enter the junior top 100.

Youngest players to exceed 2,400

Answering the question of whether he pays attention to such recordings, he answers with a smile:

“It was a kind of competition. I always wanted to break records. It motivates me and it is also a very difficult challenge. But if you set a goal, you have to motivate yourself with a difficult challenge. When I When I was a child, I set a goal to become the youngest grandmaster at the time. After becoming a grandmaster, I set a goal to reach 2700. Then you set new goals every time. times, and it becomes motivation.

It was a kind of competition. I always wanted to break records. It gives me motivation and it is also a very difficult challenge.

-Nodirbek Abdusattarov

Abdusattorov on beating grandmasters at age 9

Abdusattorov’s record-breaking journey began when he became the under-8 world junior champion in 2012. Just two years later, at the age of nine, he captured the attention of the entire chess world . by defeating two grandmasters in a single tournament.

His victory against GM rated 2600 Andrei Zhgalko at home in Tashkent in 2014, made him the fifth youngest player to defeat a classical chess grandmaster of all time. However, his feat is perhaps the most impressive of all considering the strength of his opponent.

Abdusattorov during the U8 World Championships.  Photo: Chess Federation of Uzbekistan / gazeta.uz
Abdusattorov during the U8 World Championships. Photo: Chess Federation of Uzbekistan/gazeta.uz.

“It was a very special feeling because it was the first time I played against a 2600 grandmaster. I think it was also my first open tournament, so I had never had the chance to play against a strong grandmaster. And the first time “I played against a grandmaster rated at 2600, I managed to beat him. I didn’t believe it myself! I didn’t understand what I was doing at the time. It was a special feat.”

I couldn’t believe it myself. I didn’t understand what I had done at that moment. It was a special achievement.

—Abdusattorov on winning against a 2600-rated GM at age nine

Abdusattorov on meeting Carlsen: he was my idol

He reveals a funny story about how he had just discovered at the time who was the world number one since 2010, an opponent he would later face and even defeat.

“I didn’t know Magnus at all. I hadn’t heard of him. The first time I heard of him was during the 2013 Candidates. I was around eight years old. At the time “I just knew the world champion, Vishy, ​​and I only knew Magnus as a famous player. When I found out that Magnus was much stronger and higher rated, I was a little surprised. “

“After the match against Vishy, ​​Magnus was clearly stronger and much better. I was so impressed with him. He was my idol at the time.”

I was so impressed with him. He was my idol at the time.

—Abdusatorov on Carlsen in 2013

Just two years later, in 2015, Abdusattorov achieved a real breakthrough. It catapulted from 2263 to 2465 in one month. The same year, he participated in the Qatar Masters, rubbing shoulders for the first time with some of the world’s biggest chess stars.

Eight years later, he has a confession to make: “I looked at each player and saw them for the first time with their mouths open. It was so exciting!”

In Qatar, he was also able to show off his skills, such as his incredible pace and determination on the football field, as this reporter witnessed firsthand. “I remember scoring a goal,” he says with a smile, adding that he is still a keen player.

He ended up taking a photo with Carlsen, who won the tournament. “I didn’t talk to him. I was just happy to get a photo!”

During the Qatar Masters 2015 awards ceremony, Abdusattorov had the chance to pose with Carlsen.  Photo: Tarjei J. Svensen
During the Qatar Masters 2015 awards ceremony, Abdusattorov had the chance to pose with Carlsen. Photo: Tarjei J. Svensen.

Abdusattorov has the memory fresh in his mind as he has now become a star himself and fans are chasing a selfie with him instead. The rise of the young Uzbek is meteoric. He was barely 13 years old when he became a grandmaster, the sixth youngest in historyand 15 years old when he broke the 2600 barrier. He faces Carlsen for the first time 2019 World Blitz Championshipwhere he drew with Black.

In the 2021 World Rapid Championship he won a key match against Carlsen which sensationally secured him the title. After defeat him in their first classic encounter In Tata Steel Chess 2023Abdusattorov remains the only top player with a positive score against the Norwegian in classical chess.

“After that event, it was obvious that I was going to reach the top very soon. My childhood was gone and I had to grow up and take it seriously from that point on. Now it’s very, very serious .”

The 2021 World Rapid Championship, where Abdusattorov defeated Carlsen en route to the trophy.  Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com
The 2021 World Rapid Championship, where Abdusattorov defeated Carlsen en route to the trophy. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

“Looking back, it was my dream to play even one classic match against him. After a while, I almost play against him in all major tournaments. It evolves in a very simple way and unexpected. It’s a very pleasant moment. “I feel like I’m playing against him. I enjoy it, but at the same time it’s a kind of competition. “

Abdusattorov issues a clear warning to the world number one.

“Now it’s obvious that Magnus is… although he is the best player in the world, our generation is coming for him. It’s going to be very difficult for Magnus.”

Our generation is coming for him. This is going to be very hard for Magnus.

-Nodirbek Abdusattarov

Carlsen on Abdusattorov: ‘Not convinced’

Carlsen himself said he believed youngsters, including Abdusattorov, still had a way to go before reaching his level.

“At the moment, I don’t think any of them are close to being at my level. That doesn’t mean it’s always easy,” Carlsen said in the recent Sjakksnakk podcast.

The former world champion had already praised Abdusattorov concentration and discipline, and ability to defend lower positions, calling him “extremely impressive”. However, the former world champion rates Firouzja higher.

Abdusattorov has an excellent record against Carlsen, and beat him again in rapid free chess in Germany this year.  Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com
Abdusattorov has an excellent record against Carlsen, and beat him again in the rapid section of free chess in Germany this year. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

“There is no doubt that Alireza is a greater talent. I’m not sure he is a more likely choice to have a better chess career than Abdusattorov. But I’m not 100 convinced yet % by Abdusattorov. I’m talking in terms of being a clear number one, not whether he will be a perennial top player, obviously. But it’s still hard to say,” Carlsen said.

Whether Abdusattorov will ever make it to the top remains to be seen, but he certainly appears to be in a good position.

Will Abdusattorov be able to continue his meteoric rise?
Will Abdusattorov be able to continue his meteoric rise?



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