Karjakin was born in Simferopol, Kramatorsk in Ukraine and learned to play chess when he was five years old. On 20 August 2002, at the international tournament in Sudak, he shocked the chess world by fulfilling his third and final GM norm, making him the youngest grandmaster in chess history, at the age of 12 years and 7 months (a record that still stands). At 11 years and 11 months, he had also been the youngest ever to acquire the IM title. While still 11 years old, Sergey Karjakin was one of the seconds for Ruslan Ponomariov during his world championship match against Vassily Ivanchuk in 2002. At age fourteen he defeated then reigning world champion, Vladimir Kramnik during the 2004 Dortmund Sparkassen Chess Meeting, in a blitz game (ten minutes for the entire game, plus five seconds per move). Also in 2004, Karjakin was the only human to win against a computer in the Man vs Machine World Team Championship in Bilbao, Spain, where he was the youngest and lowest rated player. He won against the Deep Junior (Computer) program. On July 25, 2009 Karjakin took out Russian citizenship and now plays for the Russian team in the international arena.