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10-Year-Old FM Faustino Oro Becomes Youngest-Ever International Master

In a historic milestone, 10-year-old FM Faustino Oro, dubbed the ‘Messi of Chess,’ has become the youngest-ever international master by securing his final norm at the Club de Ajedrez Barcelona event. Supported by five dedicated coaches, Oro’s remarkable achievement places him among only three players to earn this prestigious title before turning 11, highlighting his exceptional talent and dedication to the game.

Faustino Oro with his father Alejandro and mother Romina. Photo: Stefan Loeffler / Chesscom

In a historic achievement, 10-year-old FM Faustino Oro, known as the ‘Messi of Chess,’ has become the youngest-ever international master. Oro secured his final norm at the Club de Ajedrez Barcelona event, finishing with 6.5/9 points and going undefeated in the nine-round tournament. His remarkable accomplishment places him among only three players who have earned the IM title before turning 11. Oro’s journey has been supported by a dedicated team, including multiple coaches and financial backing from anonymous businessmen and the Argentinian Chess Federation. His achievements have not only elevated his status in the chess world but also brought newfound attention to the game in Argentina.

Breaking records

In an extraordinary accomplishment, 10-year-old FM Faustino Oro has made history by becoming the youngest-ever international master. Oro secured his final norm today in Barcelona, Spain, marking a significant milestone in his burgeoning career. This remarkable feat places him among only three players who have achieved this prestigious title before turning 11.

Oro’s path to this historic achievement came through an undefeated performance at the nine-round Club de Ajedrez Barcelona event, held from June 26-30. The young prodigy won four of his first six games and drew the last three, finishing with a score of 6.5/9 points. This outstanding performance saw him sharing first place with IM Cristian Andres Hernandez and finishing half a point ahead of GM Hipolito Asis Gargatagli.

Securing the final norm wasn’t without its challenges. Oro faced significant pressure in the last two rounds, particularly in his final game against Chilean IM Fernando Valenzuela Gomez, where he had to defend tougher positions. Despite these challenges, he managed to draw, clinching his third and final IM norm. This achievement follows his second norm obtained just a month earlier in Medellin, Colombia, and his first norm in Argentina last October.

At 10 years, eight months, and 16 days, Oro has met all the requirements for the IM title, pending formal approval by the International Chess Federation (FIDE). He had already surpassed the 2400 rating requirement, narrowly missing a norm at the Madrid Chess Festival earlier this month. His record-breaking accomplishment places him in elite company, joining the ranks of GM Abhimanyu Mishra and GM Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu, who also achieved the title before their 11th birthday.

For perspective, legendary players like GM Magnus Carlsen, GM Alireza Firouzja, GM Wesley So, GM Hikaru Nakamura, and GM Fabiano Caruana all attained the IM title at older ages, highlighting Oro’s exceptional talent and early mastery of the game.

Oro’s current FIDE rating is set to be 2419 in July, and his performance in Barcelona will add another 31 rating points in August. His undefeated streak now extends to 31 games, and he breaks into Argentina’s top 15 players, all before turning 11.

In addition to his impressive achievements in classical chess, Oro has also made headlines in speed chess. He has defeated top players like Carlsen and Nakamura in bullet games on Chess.com and recently became the youngest-ever to achieve a blitz rating of 3000 on the platform.

A chess genius from the pandemic

The journey of this chess prodigy began at the age of six when his father, Alejandro Oro, encouraged Faustino to start playing chess online during the pandemic lockdown to keep him occupied. Faustino quickly demonstrated his natural talent and passion for chess, as noted by WIM Ivette Garcia, who recognized his genius early on.

Faustino’s father, Alejandro, and his mother, Romina Simondi, have been instrumental in supporting his chess career. They moved from Argentina to Badalona, Spain, to provide him with better opportunities. This move has paid off, with Oro gaining around 100 rating points in the past year.

A group of 5 coaches and media support

Oro’s success has garnered significant attention and support. A group of anonymous businessmen and the Argentinian Chess Federation have launched an unprecedented plan to back the family financially, enabling Oro to focus on his chess career. He now has five coaches, including his original coach from Argentina, IM Jorge Rosito, and Peruvian GM Jorge Cori.

IM Jorge Rosito praised Oro’s work ethic and humility, describing his dedication and constant desire to improve as akin to that of a 2600-rated player. GM Jorge Cori echoed these sentiments, highlighting Oro’s exceptional talent and the ease of working with him.

Mario Petrucci, President of the Argentinian Chess Federation, commended Oro’s personality, emphasizing his friendliness, empathy, and respect for his teachers. Oro’s achievements have brought chess to new audiences in Argentina, with even non-chess enthusiasts following his progress and celebrating his successes.

As Faustino Oro continues to break records and inspire future generations, the global chess community eagerly anticipates his future accomplishments.

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