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HomeNews UKLondon chess prodigy, 8, wins title at European championships

London chess prodigy, 8, wins title at European championships

  • By Samantha Jagger
  • BBC news

image source, Simon Walker/No. 10 Downing Street

image captions,

Bodhana Sivanandan started gaming at the age of five during the pandemic

An 8-year-old girl won the title of best female player at the European blitz chess tournament.

Bodhana Sivanandan, from Harrow, north-west London, scored 8.5/13 at the event in Croatia, finishing ahead of seasoned professionals in the competition.

She defeated an international master and drew with a grandmaster, a result described as “unbelievable”.

The chess prodigy, who started playing chess at the age of five, said she was “proud” of her performance over the weekend.

The tournament is held in a lightning time-controlled format – a form of fast-paced chess where players only have a few minutes on the clock to move.

Chairman of the Council of the English Chess Federation (ECF) Stephen Woodhouse said: “In essence, there are three types of timing in a chess game – standard, fast play and blitz.”

He explains: “A blitz game usually lasts from three minutes to five minutes so it happens very quickly.

Bodhana’s opponents include grandmasters – the highest title given to the world’s strongest players – international grandmasters and experts.

“I’m very proud of myself for winning the top women’s prize at the European blitz tournament.”

When asked if she was nervous, she replied: “No, I’m just playing chess.”

The chess world was quick to praise her performance.

Romanian international master Irina Bulmaga, one of the players Bodhana finished ahead of, wrote on X that it was an “incredible result” and added “she is phenomenal”.

Dominic Lawson, chairman of the British Chess Federation, described it as an “extraordinary result for an eight-year-old and something we have certainly never seen in this country”.

He has an amazingly mature playing style that is strategic and patient. She has what you could describe as a long game,” he added.

British international and commentator Lawrence Trent described Bodhana as “one of the greatest talents I have witnessed in recent memory”.

“The maturity of her game, her amazing touch on the ball, it’s truly breathtaking,” he wrote on X.

Mr Trent added: “I have no doubt that she will be England’s greatest player and quite possibly one of the greatest players the game has ever seen.”

Another child chess prodigy

  • Judit Polgar, born in 1976, became a grandmaster at the age of 15. She retired from competitive chess in 2014. She is the youngest of three sisters, all of whom play chess internationally.
  • Magnus Carlsen was born in 1990, won the world championship at the age of 23. He was taught to play ball from the age of 5 and became a grandmaster at the age of 13.
  • Hou Yifan, born in 1994, became the youngest female grandmaster ever at the age of 14.

Source: British Chess Federation

Siva Sivanandan said his daughter “tried her best and it worked in her favor”.

“She loves chess and loves to travel. We keep trying and keep going,” he added.

Bodhana will next compete at the International Chess Congress in Hastings, one of the world’s longest-running tournaments, on December 28.

Earlier this year, Bodhana met Rishi Sunak when the prime minister hosted young chess champions in Downing Street.


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