British Indian prodigy creates history in European chess championship

Bodhana Sivanandan, 8, from Harrow won the European blitz chess championship

British Indian prodigy creates history in European chess championship

Bodhana Sivanandan (Photo: X)

Pramod Thomas

AN eight-year-old British Indian schoolgirl has made history after being named the “super talented” best female player at a European chess championship.

Bodhana Sivanandan, from Harrow in north-west London, won the European blitz chess Championship in Zagreb, Croatia, over the weekend.

During the event, she went head-to-head with some of the best players in the world and defeated an international master to win the crown.

“Eight-year-old super talented Bodhana Sivanandan (ENG, 1944) made an astonishing result in the Blitz competition. She scored 8.5/13 points to win the first women prize and earn 211.2 blitz ELO points,” said a statement from the European rapid and blitz chess championships, which concluded in on Sunday (17).

Praise for the chess prodigy has since been pouring in on social media, with leading professionals highlighting her “unbelievable” performance.

“I always try my best to win, sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t,” Bodhana told the BBC after her win.

Father Siva Sivanandan said his daughter was “trying her best and it has worked in favour of her”.

“She likes chess and she likes travelling. We keep trying and keep going,” he said.

Dominic Lawson, president of the English Chess Federation, termed her achievement “extraordinary” for an eight-year-old, unprecedented in the country.

Lawson commended her mature playing style, describing it as strategic and patient, emphasizing her aptitude for the long game.

British International Master and commentator Lawrence Trent praised her as one of the greatest talents he’s witnessed, expressing confidence that she will become England’s greatest player and possibly one of the game’s all-time greats.

Sivanandan took up chess at age five during the pandemic after discovering a chess set in a bag given by her father’s friend.

The young champion expressed uncertainty about her chances in the upcoming International Chess Congress in Hastings, East Sussex on 28 December.

She has shared her aspirations to become a grandmaster, England’s youngest Olympic gold medalist, and eventually secure a world title.

A few months ago, Sivanandan was among a group of young chess enthusiasts invited by prime minister Rishi Sunak to 10 Downing Street to mark the government’s major new £1 million investment package for the game.

The package has since been in place to support children attending schools in disadvantaged areas across England to learn and play chess, improve visibility and availability of the game and fund elite playing.

(with inputs from PTI)