Faustino Oro Becomes Youngest Ever International Master At 10


10-year-old FM Faustino Oro, dubbed the ‘Messi of Chess,’ has become the youngest-ever international master and once again earned a place in chess history, securing the final norm today in Barcelona, Spain. The Argentinian prodigy is one of only three players to achieve the title before turning 11.

Oro went undefeated through the nine-round Club de Ajedrez Barcelona event, which took place from June 26-30 in the Spanish city. The 10-year-old won four out of his first six games and drew the last three. With 6.5/9 points, the young Argentinian finished shared first with IM Cristian Andres Hernandez, half a point ahead of GM Hipolito Asis Gargatagli. 














Rk. Title Name FED Pts.
1 IM Hernandez, Cristian Andres 6.5
2 FM Oro, Faustino 6.5
3 GM Asis Gargatagli, Hipolito 6
4 IM Valenzuela Gomez, Fernando 5.5
5 FM Martin Barcelo, Carles 4
6 FM Masague Artero, Guerau 4
7 FM Alcala Gonzalez, Cesar 3.5
8 FM Mompel Ferruz, Xavier 3.5
9 FM Malka, Samuel 3
10 FM Villa Tornero, Alex 2.5

While Oro drew his way to the norm, it wasn’t easy as he was under heavy pressure and had to defend worse positions in the last two games, in particular against Chilean IM Fernando Valenzuela Gomez in the final round. In the end a draw was enough to clinch Oro’s third and final IM norm, just a month after scoring his second norm in Medellin, Colombia. The first norm came in Argentina in October.

Oro got off to a dream start when he beat the only grandmaster in the field. 

Oro during the 6th round in Barcelona. Photo: Club de Ajedrez Barcelona
Oro during the 6th round in Barcelona. Photo: Club de Ajedrez Barcelona.

He followed up by also winning the next two games, before he slowed down with draws in rounds four and five. His victory in round six against FM Alex Tornero was key for clinching the norm, leaving him needing only 1.5 in his last three games.

In the final game, he defended excellently in a worse position, and saved the draw after almost three hours of play.

After the conclusion of the game, the 10-year-old did not celebrate and could be seen calmly signing his score sheet and walking away from the playing hall with his father.

3rd To Become IM Before Turning 11

At 10 years, eight months, and 16 days the Argentinian prodigy has met all the requirements for the international master (IM) title, pending formal approval by the International Chess Federation (FIDE). He had already cruised well above the 2400 rating requirement when he narrowly missed a norm in the Madrid Chess Festival earlier this month.

Oro’s record-breaking achievement places him in the elite company of players who qualified for the title before their 11th birthday. The previous record was held by GM Abhimanyu Mishra, while GM Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu was another 17 days older.

He now tops a prestigious list of prodigies who all went on to become grandmasters.

By comparison, GM Magnus Carlsen achieved the title at 12 years and seven months, GM Alireza Firouzja at 12 years and nine months, GM Wesley So at 12 years and 10 months, GM Hikaru Nakamura at 13 years and two months, while GM Fabiano Caruana was aged 13 years and four months.

Oro is set to be rated 2419 on FIDE’s July list, but thanks to his performance in Barcelona, where he extended his streak without a loss to 31 games, he will add another 31 rating points in August. While still four months away from turning 11, he breaks into Argentina’s top 15.

To illustrate the feat, Chess.com compared his current rating with today’s top-three players, Carlsen, Nakamura, and Caruana at the same age.

The graphic shows Faustino Oro's rating progress compared to the top three players in the world, Carlsen, Nakamura and Caruana.
The graphic shows Faustino Oro’s rating progress compared to the top three players in the world, Carlsen, Nakamura, and Caruana. Graphic: Chess.com.

The Pandemic Prodigy

Oro is a part of a trend where kids who learned chess during the pandemic achieve their titles at an even younger age, breaking records left and right. “This is something I think we are going to be seeing more of as time goes along. A lot of kids trickling towards IM, GM, and maybe even the highest level as well. Players who have been starting to play during the pandemic,” Nakamura said in a YouTube video.

Faustino’s father, Alejandro Oro, has shared the story of how his son learned chess at the age of six after he signed him up for a Chess.com account at his wife Romina Simondi’s request. During the pandemic lockdown, they needed to find a way to stop their kid from kicking a ball around and breaking things at home.

Faustino Oro during the World Rapid & Blitz Championship last year. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com
Faustino Oro during the World Rapid & Blitz Championship last year. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com

The trick clearly worked, as he instead fell in love with chess and, after just a year of playing actively, he achieved a FIDE rating of 2000. That was also the time he started streaming in Spanish with ChessKid’s Director of Content, WIM Ivette Garcia Morales, who told Chess.com:

“Since I met Fausti Oro in 2021 and he was playing his first games, I knew I was facing a chess genius. What stood out the most is his love for chess.”

Since I met Fausti Oro in 2021 and he was playing his first games, I knew I was facing a chess genius. What stood out the most is his love for chess.

 —WIM Ivette Garcia

Breaking Records

On his journey toward the title as the youngest-ever international master, the 10-year-old has set several mind-blowing records. He became the youngest to ever achieve a classical rating of both 2200 and 2300 last year. Not long after, he also scored his first international master norm, as the first under the age of 10.

When he officially breaks the 2400 barrier on an official list in July, he’ll be the second youngest to do so, with only GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov a few months younger.

Oro has also made headlines for his exceptional skills in speed chess at Chess.com, defeating both Carlsen and Nakamura in bullet games and GothamChess, IM Levy Rozman, in a blitz match. Recently he also become the youngest-ever to achieve a blitz rating of 3000 on Chess.com.

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

Nevertheless, his parents have repeatedly stressed that they put no pressure on their son, and that they are not after records. Alejandro Oro told Argentinian newspaper InfoBae:

“Romina and I don’t care, we are not after the record, but he wants the title of international master, and that is more important to him than breaking a record because his mind is not capable of magnifying it.”

Romina and I don’t care, we are not after the record, but he wants the title of international master, and that is more important to him than breaking a record because his mind is not capable of magnifying it.

 —Alejandro Oro, Faustino’s father

He noted that it was Faustino’s choice to play in Barcelona: “For Romina and for me, it would have been better if he had cancelled his participation because he had played many games in a few days, but he is fully charged, he wants to play and he is confident, and that is very important to face a tournament,” he said.

Faustino Oro cruised to his third and final IM norm in Barcelona. Photo: Club de Ajedrez Barcelona
Faustino Oro cruised to his third and final IM norm in Barcelona. Photo: Club de Ajedrez Barcelona.

Oro’s First Coach: Work-habits Like A 2600-player

The family moved last year from Argentina to Badalona, Spain so their son could focus on his chess career. That seems to have paid off, as Oro has gained around 100 rating points since. Last month it was also revealed that a group of anonymous businessmen, along with the Argentinian Chess Federation, have launched what is described as an unprecedented plan to back the family financially.

Oro now has a total of five coaches that are supported through the program. One of them is his original coach from Argentina, IM Jorge Rosito, who described for Chess.com a unique talent who is lucky to have all the support from his parents.

“I once asked Fausti’s father what it was like to be his father. When Fausti started playing chess, he would have been happy if he became the under-8 champion, but then this happened, becoming the father of a genius. Without a doubt, his parents have managed this very well.”

Having coached Oro since 2020, he described a gifted child who loves chess and enjoys working hard to improve.

“What has been surprising me the most lately is his work capacity. His work habits are those of a 2600-player, which really amazes me because he is only 10 years old. It is important to mention this because talent goes hand in hand with hard work, and Fausti has these work habits.”

What has been surprising me the most lately, is his work capacity. His work habits are those of a 2600-player, which really amazes me because he is only 10 years old.

 —IM Jorge Rosito, Oro’s first chess coach

Argentinian GM Tomas Sosa, based in Spain, is one of Faustino Oro's coaches. Photo: Private photo album
Argentinian GM Tomas Sosa, based in Spain, is one of Faustino Oro’s coaches. Photo: Private photo album.

Rosito says that he has coached players from around Latin America, but he never enjoyed coaching as much as now.

“I don’t know how to describe it, I feel like an angel fell from the sky, and I am living in a movie. I never have to repeat anything to Fausti twice. His speed, his constant desire to win against anyone, working with Faustino is like a dream and a movie, which I still can’t believe. I feel very blessed to have watched this movie from when Fausti was six years old to now that he is 10. He is a great person and something to highlight is that he has never been arrogant. He is very humble and very funny. I could talk about Fausti for an hour!”

I don’t know how to describe it, I feel like an angel fell from the sky, and I am living in a movie. I never have to repeat anything to Fausti twice. His speed, his constant desire to win against anyone, working with Faustino is like a dream and a movie, which I still can’t believe.

 —IM Jorge Rosito, Oro’s coach

Another coach is the Peruvian GM Jorge Cori, who has worked with Oro for the past nine months. “He is a genius, best talent I have ever seen,” he said. Asked what it’s been like working with him, he said: “It has been nice. It is like playing with a friend. You can forgot that he is ten years old.”

The sentiment was also shared by Mario Petrucci, the President of the Argentinian Chess Federation. In an email to Chess.com, he praised Oro’s personality.

“His qualities include friendliness, simplicity, empathy with his opponents, being a good student, and respecting his teachers.”

Oro has already received extensive coverage in Argentinian media, dubbing him the “Messi of Chess.” Petrucci noted that, while the impact is difficult to measure, it has led to chess reaching new audiences.

Faustino Oro with two Argentinian icons. Photo: Angel Monclús
Faustino Oro with two Argentinian icons. Photo: Angel Monclus.

He added: “Ordinary people outside the chess community are now aware of Faustino, follow his results, and are all attentive to his achievements. This phenomenon has never happened before, allowing chess to be noticed by new audiences and government officials interested in supporting us.”

“Everything is very positive for chess, which we are channeling to support other talents. It is always the case in a sport that when a world-class figure emerges, that sport grows in both quantity and quality,” Petrucci said.

It won’t be long until we’ll see Oro in action again, as he’ll take part in ChessKid Youth Championship next week, playing in the U16 section.



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