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Bodhana Sivanandan

8-year-old British Indian chess prodigy crowned Europe’s best player

December 21, 2023

An eight-year-old British Indian schoolgirl has etched her name in chess history by securing the title of the “super talented” best female player at a European championship. Bodhana Sivanandan, hailing from Harrow in north-west London, clinched victory at the European Blitz Chess Championship in Zagreb, Croatia. Her remarkable winning streak, initiated during the COVID pandemic lockdown, propelled her to success against some of the world’s top players, including defeating an international master to claim her crown.

The European Rapid and Blitz Chess Championships, concluding in Croatia, acknowledged Bodhana’s exceptional performance, stating, “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.”

Praise for the chess prodigy flooded social media, with industry professionals commending her “unbelievable” achievements. In a post-victory interview with the BBC, Bodhana expressed her dedication to always giving her best in competitions.

Bodhana’s father, Siva Sivanandan, shared his pride in his daughter’s achievements, noting her passion for chess and travel. Previously, Bodhana was among young chess enthusiasts invited to 10 Downing Street by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to mark a GBP 1 million investment package aimed at supporting chess in schools, particularly in disadvantaged areas across England.

The government’s investment, overseen by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), includes GBP 500,000 allocated to the English Chess Federation (ECF) for developing the next generation of talent. This funding will support expert coaching, training camps, and advanced computer analysis for international events. Additionally, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) will allocate GBP 250,000 to install 100 new chess tables in public parks, promoting community engagement and problem-solving skills.

The Sunak-led government also plans to encourage primary school children, especially girls, to learn chess. The Department for Education will offer grants of up to GBP 2,000 to at least 100 schools in disadvantaged areas, fostering a greater interest in the game. This comprehensive package reflects the government’s commitment to nurturing talent, enhancing visibility, and promoting chess as a beneficial hobby.

Also read: Ludhiana teen tech prodigy Namya Joshi to deliver keynote at edtech event in UK

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