IM (2001) & GM (2002) Sergey Aleksandrovich Karjakin was World Rapid Champion (2012-13); World Cup Champion (2015), Candidate (2014 & 2016) and World Championship Challenger (2016).
Karjakin was born in Simferopol in Ukraine and learned to play chess when he was five years old. On 20 August 2002, at the international tournament in Sudak, he allegedly achieved his third and final GM norm, making him the youngest grandmaster in chess history, at the age of 12 years and 7 months (a record that has since been broken by Abhimanyu Mishra). However, a 2021 New York Times article by Ivan Nechepurenko and Misha Friedman questioned the veracity of this achievement.
At 11 years and 11 months, he had been the youngest ever to acquire the IM title. While still 11 years old, Sergey Karjakin was one of the seconds for Ruslan Ponomariov during his world championship match against Vasyl Ivanchuk in 2002. At age fourteen he defeated then reigning world champion, Vladimir Kramnik during the 2004 Dortmund Sparkassen Chess Meeting, in a blitz game (ten minutes for the entire game, plus five seconds per move). Also in 2004, 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. He won against the Deep Junior (Computer) program. On July 25, 2009 Karjakin took out Russian citizenship and now plays for the Russian team in the international arena.
In June 2001, Karjakin was =1st in the Alushta Summer tournament with 7.5/11. He gained his first two GM norms at Aeroflot in 2002, and at the category 8 Alushta-100 tournament in May 2002 when he scored 9.5/13 to share first equal in the tournament with GM Evgenij Miroshnichenko. At Hastings (2002/03), he came fifth in the category 12 Premier division with 5/9 and a 2590 TPR, immediately moving on for his first taste of Corus, in the B Division where he came 5th with 7/13, a point behind the winner Peter Heine Nielsen. In December 2004, he finished second to Boris Gelfand at the category 16 Pamplona Tournament (2004).
In January 2005, he won the Corus Tournament: Group B (2005) in Wijk aan Zee with 9.5/13 (TPR 2735), a full point clear of the field, and in April 2005 he became the first player born in the 1990s to enter the FIDE World Top 100 in rankings. In May 2005, he also won the Young Stars of the World tournament, scoring 8.5 points out of 11 (TPR 2677), a full point clear of Ildar Khairullin. In 2006, Karjakin won the category 18 double round robin 10th Petr Izmailov Memorial (2006) in Tomsk, Russia with 7/10 (TPR 2834). In 2007, after leading for most of the tournament, Karjakin came second at the 2nd Aerosvit (2007) with 7/11 (+3 -0 =8; TPR 2791), half a point behind the winner Vassily Ivanchuk; he came third in Aerosvit (2008) behind Magnus Carlsen and Ivanchuk with 6/11 (TPR 2741). Immediately after his narrow World Rapid Cup victory in Odessa in May 2010, Karjakin won the Karpov Poikovsky tournament on tiebreak from Victor Bologan scoring 7/11 (+4 -1 =6; TPR 2787). In October 2011, he was =1st with Etienne Bacrot at the Poikovsky Karpov Poikovsky (2011) with 5.5/9 (+2 =7), but came 2nd on count back.
<Super tournaments>: Karjakin's first taste of a super tournament was the Dortmund Sparkassen (2004), where he finished last. He finished with a plus score in the A-group of Corus Group A (2006), came third in the double round robin quadrangular Grand Slam Chess Final (2009) and won his first super tournament with 8/13 (TPR 2798) in the category 19 Corus Group A (2009). He placed 6th in the Corus Group A (2010) with 7/13 (+2 -1 =10; TPR 2746) and narrowly came second on tiebreak with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov behind Levon Aronian at the Tal Memorial (2010) in November 2010, all three scoring 5.5/9 (Karjakin's TPR was 2835). In June 2011, Karjakin scored 6.5/10 at the Category 21 Bazna King's Tournament (2011), coming second on tiebreak to Carlsen. In November 2011, he came =3rd (4th on countback behind Ivanchuk) in the category 22 Tal Memorial (2011) with 5/9 (+1 =8 -0 and TPR of 2820), behind Aronian and Carlsen respectively. He scored 6.5/13 (+5 -5 =3; TPR 2754) at the category 21 Tata Steel Group A (2012) (formerly Corus) tournament at Wijk aan Zee, placing 8th out of 13, and in July 2012, he scored =1st (2nd on tiebreak behind Fabiano Caruana) at Dortmund Sparkassen (2012). In October 2012, he came 4th at the Grand Slam Chess Final (2012), and a few months later in January 2013 placed =3rd behind Carlsen and Aronian and alongside World Champion Viswanathan Anand at the category 20 Tata Steel Group A (2013) tournament. In May 2013, Karjakin won the inaugural Norway Chess (2013), a category 21 event held in the Stavanger region of Norway, with a score of 6/9, half a point ahead of world number 1 Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura he also won the preliminary Norway Chess (Blitz) (2013) used to determine the draw with 6.5/9, earning the right to start with White in 5 games out of 9. Karjakin considers this the best tournament of his career so far. (1) Shortly afterwards, he scored a winless 4/9 in the category 22 Tal Memorial (2013).
He started 2014 with a promising 6.5/11 at the category 20 Tata Steel Masters (2014), placing =2nd behind Levon Aronian and 3rd on tiebreak behind Anish Giri. In April he participated in the inaugural Gashimov Memorial (2014), a category 22 6-player DRR event instituted to commemorate the late Azeri grandmaster, and finished =3rd with 5/10 behind Carlsen and Caruana, drawing all his games. He backed up his win at Stavanger in 2013 with another outright win at the next incarnation of that event in 2014, namely the Norway Chess (2014), scoring 6/9, again a half point ahead of Carlsen.
2015 did not start as promisingly as the previous year. His first event was the RR category 22 Zurich Chess Challenge (2015) (standard time section), where he scored 2/5 to place =4th behind Anand, Nakamura and Kramnik on points, behind Caruana on tiebreak but ahead of Aronian on tiebreak. His form did not improve in the second part of the event, namely the Zurich Chess Challenge (Rapid) (2015), where he against finished 4th, for an overall placing of 6th and last. Gearing up for his world title challenge in 2016, Karjakin scored a solid 6.5/9 at the powerful Qatar Masters (2015), half a point behind the the winnder Carlsen and runner-up on tiebreak Yu Yangyi.
The start to 2016 was again inauspicious, starting with a mediocre 6/13 at the annual Tata Steel Masters (2016) at Wijk aan Zee.
<Age championships>: Karjakin won the U10 European Championship in 1999 and placed =2nd in the U10 World Championship in 2000. In 2001 the 11-year old FM won the U12 World Championship, the Ukrainian U14 championship, competed in the Ukrainian U20 championship, scoring 5/10 and coming =5th and in the 2001 European U14 championship he came =1st (2nd on count back) behind Borki Predojevic.
<National> The then 13 year old Grandmaster came =2nd-9th in the 2003 Ukrainian Men's Championship with 6.5/9. He lost an Armageddon blitz tiebreak to Nepomniachtchi at the Russian Championship Superfinal (2010) to place 2nd and then came =3rd with 4/7 in the Russian Championship Superfinal (2011). In 2012, he came =1st in the Russian Championship Superfinal (2012), but came 2nd in the round robin Russian Superfinals (Tiebreak) (2012) to place 2nd in the championship behind the winner, and therefore the 2012 Russian Champion, Dmitry Andreikin. He scored 4.5/9 to place =6th at the Russian Championship Superfinal (2013). He scored 4/9 in the Russian Championship Superfinal (2014) to place =8th. He was runner up in the Russian Championship Superfinal (2015) with 7/11, a half point behind the winner Evgeny Tomashevsky.
<Continental>: Karjakin came 4th in the European Championship (2005).
<World championships 2004-2014>: Karjakin played in the FIDE World Championship Knockout Tournament (2004) but was eliminated in the first round by Mikhail Kobalia. He has reached the semi-finals in two subsequent World Cups, losing to Alexey Shirov in the World Cup (2007) and to Boris Gelfand in the World Cup (2009). His results in the latter qualified him for participation in the World Cup (2011), where he defeated Mejdi Kaabi and Wesley So in the first two rounds, but was eliminated from the Cup when he lost to Judit Polgar in the third round. He qualified by rating to play in the World Cup (2013) and defeated Moroccan IM Sebbar Ali in the first round, Indian GM Krishnan Sasikiran in the second round, and Ukrainian GM Pavel Eljanov in the third round. However he was eliminated in the Round of 16 (round 4) by compatriot GM Dmitry Andreikin. Nevertheless, the qualification of Vladimir Kramnik for the World Championship Candidates (2014) by reason of reaching the final of the Cup, allowed Karjakin's qualification as a rating reserve into that Candidates event. There, he placed outright second behind Anand with 7.5/14, and with Anand was the only player to score more than 50%.
<2008-2010 FIDE Grand Prix series>: Karjakin's performance in the Grand Prix series 2008-10 was mediocre by his standards. He was 10th at the
Baku Grand Prix (2008), 7th at FIDE Grand Prix (2008) in Sochi, 10th at the 4th FIDE Grand Prix (2009) in Nalchik and 7th at the FIDE Jermuk Grand Prix (2009). The combined points from these results were insufficient for him to be seeded into the 2011 Candidates.
<2012-2013 FIDE Grand Prix series>: Karjakin started off the cycle in auspicious style be coming =1st (winning on tiebreak) alongside Hao Wang and Alexander Morozevich with 6.5/11 in the FIDE Grand Prix Tashkent (2012), kicking off his Grand Prix tally with 140 points. His next Grand Prix event, the FIDE Grand Prix Zug (2013), was less successful, his 5/11 earning him only 50 points. In the third GP event in which he participated, the FIDE Grand Prix Beijing (2013), he placed =5th adding only 65 GP points to his tally. This eliminated him from contention from the top 2 in the series and would have eliminated him from qualification in the Candidates Tournament of 2014 had he not qualified as as a ratings reserve on Kramnik's win at the World Cup.
<2014-2015 FIDE Grand Prix series> Karjakin played the requisite three legs of this series, the first two being at the FIDE Grand Prix Baku (2014) and at the FIDE Grand Prix Tashkent (2014). In the former, he scored 6/11 to place 3rd-7th to earn 82 Grand Prix points. He followed up with a similar result at the Tashkent event, scoring 6/11 to place 4th-7th, again splitting the points for these places to add another 75 GP points to his tally. In the final event of the series, namely FIDE Grand Prix Khanty-Mansiysk (2015), held in May 2015, he finished in the middle of the field to finish out of the top 2 needed to qualify for the Candidates Tournament 2016.
<World Championship 2015-2016> He took advantage of another chance to qualify for the Candidates when he qualified to play in the World Cup (2015). He won early round matches against Ermes Espinosa Veloz, Alexander Onischuk, Yangyi Yu, Dmitry Andreikin, Azeri GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Pavel Eljanov to proceed to the final where he met Peter Svidler. Both he and Svidler thereby qualified for the Candidates Tournament of 2016 and gain automatic qualification to the World Cup in 2017 should that be required. In the final, the standard match of four games was tied 2-2 after Svidler lead 2-0 in the first two games. The final was decided in Karjakin's favor in the blitz tiebreakers after the two sets of rapid game tiebreakers were tied 1-1 each, with Karjakin taking out the blitz games 2-0. He made the most of his qualification to the World Championship Candidates (2016) by winning with 8.5/14, a point ahead of his main rival in the final round, Caruana, against whom he won the dramatic last round game.
Karjakin contested the world title in New York. He drew the 12 game match of the Carlsen - Karjakin World Championship Match (2016) 6-6, only to go down in the 4-game rapid tiebreaker by 3-1 to cede his challenge.
Karjakin, as the runner-up in the 2021 World Cup, qualified for the FIDE Candidates (2022). However, in March 2022, the FIDE Ethics and Disciplinary Commission ruled that Karjakin had breached the FIDE Code of Ethics by making a series of public statements supporting Russia's February 2022 invasion of Ukraine. It barred him from playing in FIDE-related tournaments, including the 2022 Candidates tournament, for a period of six months. This opened up a qualifying spot that was awarded to Ding Liren for being the highest-rated player not already in the Candidates. Ding finished second in the Candidates behind Ian Nepomniachtchi. After Magnus Carlsen declined to defend his title, Ding went on to win the Nepomniachtchi - Ding World Championship Match (2023) and become champion.
Karjakin's first taste of the Olympiads was playing for Ukraine in the 2002 U16 Olympiad in Kuala Lumpur, at which time he scored both a team and an individual silver medal playing on board 2.
Karjakin has played in the Olympiads in 2004, 2006 and 2008 (for Ukraine) and in 2010, 2012 and 2014 for Russia. His debut in the Calvia Olympiad (2004) in Calvia was stunning, one team gold and one individual gold for best performance on 2nd reserve, where he scored 6.5/7 (TPR 2929). Although there were no medals forthcoming in 2006 in Turin Olympiad (2006) in Turin, he scored 8.5/11 (TPR 2798) on Board 3 (coming 4th) for Ukraine. The Dresden Olympiad (2008) in Dresden saw Ukraine place 4th and Karjakin 6th on Board 2 with 5/9 (TPR 2714). The Khanty-Mansiysk Olympiad (2010) in Elista saw Karjakin back in the medals with his new team Russia 1 taking the silver, ironically behind Ukraine, while Karjakin took individual gold for best performance on board 4 with 8/10 and a TPR 2859. His second stint with the Russian team at the Istanbul Olympiad (2012) on board 3 earned him a team silver and an individual bronze medal, scoring 7/10. His most recent stint in the Olympiad for Russia was playing board 4 at the Tromso Olympiad (2014), where he scored 7/10, and just missed out on a team medal on tiebreak (Russia placed 4th).
Other Team Events (2)
In 2006, Karjakin helped the Youth team win the Youth - Experience (2006) by 28-22. In 2007, he was the top scorer in the NH Chess Tournament (2007) Rising Stars vs Experience contest with 7/10 (TPR 2759), won 26.5-23.5 by the Rising Stars.
Karjakin has participated in Ukrainian, Spanish, Russian, European and World Team championships, as well as in Asian Club Cup and the Rising Stars vs Experience teams. Karjakin started playing in Ukrainian Club Championships since he was at least 11, and has been an outstanding team player in the European Club Cup. In his first experience in the ECC in 2002, 12 year old Karjakin played for the Momot Regional Donetsk; while the club finished midway down the table, Karjakin scored 5.5/7, including 2.5/3 against his GM opponents. In the 2005 ECC, he played for the powerful NAO Chess Club which came third, Karjakin scoring 6/7 (TPR 2798). Playing for Tomsk, which won silver, Karjakin scored 5.5/7 (TPR 2743) and won individual gold in the Russian Team Championship (2007). In 2008, he played for PVK Kiev, and while the club came third, Karjakin had a poor tournament. After moving to Russia in 2009, he has played for ShSM-64 Moscow. Thriving in the Russian environment, in April 2010, he helped ShSM-64 win the Russian Team Championship (2010) with 16 points from 9 rounds, and in so doing turned out a TPR for the tournament of 2889. His participation in the World Team Championship (2011) saw a rare lapse of form when he only scored 2/6 (TPR 2624). However, in November he played board 3 for his adopted team Russia in the European Team Championship (2011), scoring 4.5/7 and winning individual silver, improving on his bronze medal he won for his native Ukraine on board 2 during the 2007 edition of the event. He won individual and team gold playing board 1, leading his team Tomsk to win the Russian Team Championship (2012) his TPR for the competition was 2896. Karjakin played for the Malachite team in the European Club Cup (2013), and playing board two he helped his team to win silver and picked up individual bronze in the process.
Karjakin's return to the World Team Championship redeemed his poor performance in his inaugural appearance two years earlier. Playing board 2 for Russia, he helped his team to win the gold medal at the World Team Championship (2013), winning individual silver for his efforts on board 2, narrowly missing the individual gold by the narrowest margin, viz the 3rd tiebreaker (in this case a small TPR difference less than the winner). In April 2014, he played top board for the Malachite team in the Russian Premier League, and helped his team to win every round and to gain the gold medal for the contest. He returned to international team chess once more when he played board 2 for Russia, winning individual bronze, with the team placing 4th. Karjakin returned the Russian Premier League in 2016 playing board one, but only for three games. Nevertheless, his team ShSM Moscow won silver.
In late July and early August 2015, Karjakin was a member of the Russian team that played the first half of the innovatively formatted China - Russia Challenge (2015), which involves a series of one-on-one sets between the teams with the winner of each match defending the stage against the next contestant in the opposing team. Drawn standard games are decided by rapid and Armageddon tiebreakers. In this format, Karjakin successfully defeated wunderkind Wei Yi, multiple Chinese national champion Ding Liren, Hua Ni and Yangyi Yu to virtually wrap up the challenge match by the end of the first half of the event, which will be completed in late 2015.
In the February 2003 Dannemann Match (2003), the then 13 year old Karjakin defeated the 18 year old vice-Women's World Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk in a six game match by 4-2 (+2 -0 =4). In December 2004, Karjakin played a best of six game match against 2004 US Champion 17 year old GM Hikaru Nakamura in the Karjakin - Nakamura Match (2004) aka "Duelo de los Jovenes Prodigios" (the Duel of the Wonder Boys) in Cuernavaca, Estado de Morelos, Mexico, losing 1.5 - 4.5 (+1 -4 =1).
Rapids and Blindfold
A keen and deadly rapid player, Karjakin was 13 when played in the 2003 Ciudad de León tournament, making it to the semi final before being eliminated in the four game match by Veselin Topalov 1.5-2.5 (+1-2=1). He reached the final of the 2006 Cap d'Agde (2006), which he lost to Teimour Radjabov by 0.5-1.5. In 2007, he won the EURO Blitz tournament and was runner up in the Bilbao Blindfold Chess World Cup (2007) behind Bu Xiangzhi and ahead of Magnus Carlsen, Judit Polgar, Veselin Topalov and Pentala Harikrishna respectively. In July 2008 he won the ten game Karjakin - Short Rapid match (2008) by 7.5-2.5. In May 2009, he scored 5/8 playing for the FIDE World team which defeated the Azerbaijani team in the Azerbaijan vs the World (2009) rapid tournament, the President's Cup. Also in 2009, he came equal second with Alexander Morozevich and behind Alexander Grischuk in the Moscow Blitz Championship, won the Aeroflot Blitz Qualifier for the World Blitz Championships with 15/18; in November 2009 he placed third in the World Blitz Championship (2009) behind Carlsen and Anand scoring 25/42. In 2010, he made it to the 8th round of the combined Amber Tournament (Rapid) (2010) / Amber Tournament (Blindfold) (2010) before being eliminated by Grischuk. In the fourth ACP World Rapid Cup (2010) which took place from in May in Odessa, Karjakin won the final against Dmitry Jakovenko in the Armageddon blitz game. In January 2011, the Russian State Social University staged a rapid game match between him and Nepomniachtchi, a reprise of the blitz tiebreak between the two that enabled Nepomniachtchi to win the 2010 Russian Superfinal; the two rapid games were drawn, and four subsequent blitz games were drawn with a win and a draw each. Karjakin won by drawing the Armageddon game as Black. Videos of the 5 blitz games can be seen at http://chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp.... On 16 February 2012, Karjakin played in the Moscow blitz tournament that was held after Aeroflot, and won the contest outright with 15/18 ahead of a galaxy of GMs and other masters. (3) In July 2012, Karjakin won clear first place in the World Rapid Championship (2012) held in Astana with 11.5/15 and followed up by scoring 18.5/30 to take 3rd place behind Grischuk and Carlsen at the World Blitz Championship (2012). He then won the Aeroflot Open (Rapid Qualifier) (2013), a restructured version of the traditional Aeroflot Open, defeating Grischuk in the Armageddon final with 2 seconds left on his clock. (4) In June 2013, Karjakin won the Sberbank GM Rapid (2013) with 6.5/9, a half point clear of Veselin Topalov. In September 2013, he took clear first in the powerful 67th Moscow Blitz Championship (2013) with 14.5/19.
In 2014, he participated in the World Rapid Championship (2014), scoring 10/15, a point behind the leader Magnus Carlsen, and enhancing his rapid rating by 25 points to over 2800. The outcome of his efforts in the companion event, the World Blitz Championship (2014), was very poor by his standards as he scored only 10.5/21 losing 127 blitz rating points in that event alone. His poor form in this form of the game continued at the Moscow Championship Final A Blitz in September 2014, when he scored only 10.5/19, shedding another 31 blitz rating points. He regained some form in the 2014 Tal Memorial blitz tournament, scoring 12.5/22 and placing =3rd, gaining 50 blitz rating points.
Ratings and rankings
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, the first time it rose above 2600. On the January 2008 FIDE rating list, published just before Karjakin's eighteenth birthday, he passed the 2700 mark for the first time. In the FIDE ratings list for 1 July 2011, Karjakin's rating reached an all time high of 2788 (and an all time high in the world ranking of number 4).
He married WIM Kateryna Dolzhykova in 2009, but they divorced. Karjakin is now married to Galia Kamalova.
Sources and references:
(1) https://twitter.com/SergeyKaryakin; (2) http://www.olimpbase.org/players/is...; (3) http://www.chessarbiter.com/turniej...; (4) http://chessbase.com/Home/TabId/211....
Live rating: http://www.2700chess.com/; Wikipedia article: Sergey Karjakin; Article on becoming the world's youngest grandmaster: http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail...; Article and list of chess power couples: http://chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp....