Goa’s Ethan Vaz is the world’s youngest International Master (IM) of Chess

12-year-old FIDE Master (FM) Ethan Vaz, who hails from the village of Raia, completed all the prerequisites for the prestigious title of International Master awarded by International Chess Federation (FIDE) as he achieved his 3rd and final IM Norm at the “Vezerkepzo GM Christmas 2023” round-robin tournament in Budapest, Hungary, on the 3rd of Jan 2024. The title will be officially conferred by FIDE in the next FIDE Council Meeting.

Earlier, Ethan achieved his 1st IM Norm at the “29th Abu Dhabi International Chess Festival – Masters” swiss-system tournament organized in Abu Dhabi from 16th to 24th of August, 2023. He scored his 2nd IM Norm at the “Vezerkepzo GM November 2023” round-robin tournament organized in Hungary from 16th to 24th November.

Ethan, who is currently World No. 2 is the Under-12 Open category, is one of the only two players in the category to have crossed a FIDE rating of 2400 Elo, which is one of the prerequisites for the IM Title. Born on 3rd September 2011, Ethan is 3 months younger to the other player, Erdogmus Yagiz Kaan from Turkey.

An epitome of sheer passion, grit, and determination to excel, Ethan’s chess journey has been nothing short of extraordinary. To put things into perspective, Ethan was rated just 1384 Elo back in 2022 March, following a break of 2 years and 3 months owing to a total shutdown of FIDE rated chess tournaments in India due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022, Ethan shot up from 1384 Elo to 2058 Elo within a span of 9 months after chess tournaments resumed in India post the pandemic. After closing year 2022 with a rating of 1948 Elo, Ethan’s performance in 2023 was nothing short of commendable, progressing from 1948 Elo to 2403 Elo and achieving 3 IM Norms to become the latest and currently the youngest player in the world to accomplish the milestone.

“It is exciting to see how fast Ethan is progressing, with bare minimal opportunity,” expressed Ethan’s father Edwin Vaz. “One can only wonder how high Ethan is destined to climb, if he receives the much needed financial support from corporate sponsors and the Govt. of Goa so that we can give him more exposure,” he added.

“We are very grateful to Ethan’s coaches, Prakash Vikram Singh and GM Swayams Mishra, everyone at The King’s School, especially Director Ligia Pereira and Chairman Melvin Pereira, IM Sagar Shah and ChessBase India, Ethan’s grandparents Mariano and Eliza Fernandes and late Sebastiao and Luiza Vaz, and all our relatives, friends and well-wishers who contributed to Ethan’s crowdfunding campaign, without which it wouldn’t have been possible,” said Ethan’s mother Linda Fernandes. “We also thank GCA and AICF for their support always.”

Asked about his future plans, Ethan says his short-term goal is to become a Grandmaster and then build up his strength further to become a Super GM, and his dream is to become the World Champion.

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