Anton Smirnov: Year 9 Australian kid currently playing better than all but 36 other human beings

Anton Smirnov, who turned 15 this year even if he looks a fair bit younger than that, has been playing in the Australian team in the Chess Olympiad. He’s been playing at a rating strength of 2710 which places him 37th in the world given current live rankings. After 10 rounds he’s undefeated, drawing against everyone with a rating strength of over 2570 or so and beating everyone else (these stats have been poured over by a team of data scientists in India and personally checked at Deputy Secretary level within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet).

Here are all Smirnov’s Olympiad games and some others. And here’s one of the better ones. Uncharacteristically for kids of his age who show a lot of promise, he doesn’t think he’s good enough to be the world champ. Who knows if he is or not, but unlike lots of sports which are pretty healthy and fun, chess is a pretty punishing game to go into professionally so it seems like a pretty sensible attitude to have to me. I can’t think of too many Australian chess players I’ve seen who’ve taken the game seriously enough to become professionals who look like they’re getting a lot out of life by the time they’re in their 40s.

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7 years ago

Can you expand on that last paragraph? The dark subculture of professional chess seems like an interesting topic.

7 years ago


I imagined it as more of a cerebral exercise, so the grueling nature of the competitive scene is interesting to read about.