How the Messi of Chess Is Creating Faustimania In Argentina


FM Faustino Oro, dubbed the ‘Messi of Chess,’ has created a media frenzy in his native Argentina by setting a prestigious new world record. This week he followed up by beating none other than GM Hikaru Nakamura twice.

Oro achieved his final norm and completed all requirements for the international master (IM) title in Barcelona last week, becoming the youngest in chess history to do so at 10 years, eight months, and 16 days. The extraordinary achievement was met with celebrations and praise, yet Oro remained remarkably composed, taking selfies with fans, signing autographs, and playing blitz games.

In an interview with Chess.com, the 10-year-old shared his excitement: “I feel very happy because it doesn’t happen every day. In addition, I broke the world record held by Mishra, so I’m very happy to surpass it and have the title.”

He admitted feeling nervous during the final round against IM Fernando Valenzuela Gomez, when he needed a draw to secure the title: “Yes, I suffered, I suffered, but I managed to hold on in a difficult position and win the title.”

Asked about the significance of having such a record, he said: “Yes, I wanted to achieve it. It’s not that records are so important, but it’s nice to have one. I can always say that I’m the youngest.”

It’s not that records are so important, but it’s nice to have one. I can always say that I’m the youngest.

 —Faustino Oro

This week the IM-elect returned to Chess.com, as he beat world number-two Nakamura in blitz. Twice. “The #1 prodigy in the world right now,” IM Levy Rozman/GothamChess noted, while sharing this clip from Oro’s stream. The celebration at the end is a must-watch.

The full-time streamer and content-creator went through some of their games in this video.

Back home in Argentina, the ‘Messi of Chess’ has clearly captured the attention of the people, with mainstream newspapers extensively covering his journey. The 10-year-old has been featured in some of the nation’s biggest newspapers, side-by-side with the national heroes currently fighting for a title in the Copa America.

The recognition reached another peak when Argentina’s president Javier Milei praised Oro to his three million X/Twitter followers, calling him ‘a pride for all Argentinians.” 

Former President Mauricio Macri said “You are a boss who fills us with pride,” while Daniel Scioli, Argentina’s Minister of Tourism and Sports, emphasized the broader significance of Oro’s success:

“Chess is a symbol of discipline, strategy, enduring pressure, planning, and managing time, thinking about the next moves. As someone passionate about this discipline and being the Secretary in charge of Tourism and Sports, I know it is a source of pride for our country.”

Carlos Ilardo, a journalist from one of Argentina’s biggest papers InfoBae, is likely the journalist who has followed Oro most closely over the last two years. 

“Since Faustino achieved his second norm at the Continental in Colombia, they haven’t stopped asking me for articles about him. According to my bosses, “the boy has a huge following.” People want to know more about him,” he told Chess.com.

He noted that while chess lags behind football and tennis in terms of popularity, Argentina has a rich chess culture dating back to Jose Capablanca and Alexander Alekhine‘s World Championship match in 1927, Chess Olympiads in Buenos Aires in 1939 and 1978, and the Argentina vs. USSR match in 1954.

“Since the news broke on Sunday morning, it had more space, and various newspapers even mentioned it or featured a photo on the front page.”

Faustino Oro during a blitz match against GM Haik Martisoyan in Buenos Aires. Photo: Carlos Ilardo
Oro during a blitz match against GM Haik Martirosyan in Buenos Aires. Photo: Carlos Ilardo.

Ilardo doesn’t remember any chess-related news with such significance in the country since Garry Kasparov‘s first visit to the country to play the Argentine Olympiad team in 1992. “It’s perhaps similar to the Kasparov vs. Deep Blue rematch in 1997.”

He added: “There was a general buzz and excitement within the Argentine chess community. Personally, even friends who don’t know how to play chess called or sent me messages congratulating me or asking about the importance of Faustino’s achievement.”

Even friends who don’t know how to play chess called or sent me messages congratulating me or asking about the importance of Faustino’s achievement.

 —Carlos Ilardo, Argentinian journalist

He noted that the parents have taken a cautious approach in terms of media exposure, similar to how GM Magnus Carlsen‘s parents dealt with the attention at the time.

“I understand Faustino’s parents’ position; they are very concerned about the child’s media exposure, but perhaps if they had allowed some interviews on channels, radio, blogs, or newspapers here, the impact would have been even greater,” Ilardo said.

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

Spanish journalist Federico Marin Bellon writes for El Mundo and runs the chess news website Damas y Reyes, where he noted that ‘Faustimania is unleashed’ in a recent story. He has covered Oro extensively, for Chess.com as well, and expained the young prodigy’s growing popularity in his new home country Spain.

“Faustino Oro has what it takes to be an idol. I have been to several tournaments with him, three of them in Spain, and I have seen his charisma grow at the same pace as his level of play. He gets more and more requests for photos and autographs and is always attentive to the fans,” he told Chess.com.

Faustino Oro has what it takes to be an idol. 

 —Federico Marin, Spanish journalist

“He’s not thrilled with all the attention, but he’s very professional about it. His mother tells him to look up to GM Pepe Cuenca, who is one of his idols, and he is very disciplined.”

Marin also noted that Oro’s surprising personality has contributed to his popularity: “Faustino has nothing to do with the cliche of the shy, introverted child. He can even be very funny. In Madrid, he won everyone over by playing quick games and even practising trash-talking before the awards ceremony. He is also very cheerful and assertive in interviews, not just saying platitudes to make a good impression.”

In the interview with Chess.com, ‘Fausti’ mentioned his recent milestone of becoming the youngest to surpass 3000 in blitz.  “Playing improves your game. What doesn’t help you improve is the speed. I mean, it’s too fast. Sometimes you have to play quickly; it doesn’t matter so much the position, sometimes if you have ten seconds you have to play, sometimes with the mouse too.”

Faustino Oro during the Madrid Chess Festival in May. Photo: Federico Marin Bellon
Faustino Oro during the Madrid Chess Festival in May. Photo: Federico Marin Bellon.

Oro now has a total of five coaches, thanks to an anonymous group of Argentinian businessmen covering all expenses for training, travel and accommodation. His aspirations are as high as they come, targetting the biggest title in chess. “I would like to become world champion. I always say it, but it’s very long-term. But I would like it.”

I would like to become world champion.

 —Faustino Oro

Meanwhile, Faustino’s father, Alejandro Oro, offered a grounded perspective on his son’s talent: “Fausti is a bright child, but he doesn’t stand out in everything he does; he’s not gifted. For example, he has a hard time learning English. He doesn’t read much, not even chess books. He simply has a prodigious ability to play chess,” he told InfoBae.

In September, Oro will start school in Badalona, Spain, where he has moved with his parents. He doesn’t turn 11 until October.



0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
0
Your Cart is empty!

It looks like you haven't added any items to your cart yet.

Browse Products
Powered by Caddy
Som2ny Network
Logo