Girl, 8, Beats 39-Year-Old Chess Master at Tournament

Bodhana Sivanandan was named best female player at the blitz tournament
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 21, 2023 12:49 AM CST
Female Champion at European Chess Tournament Is 8
Stock photo.   (Getty Images / eric1513)

Bodhana Sivanandan won the title of best female player at the European blitz chess championships over the weekend—at age 8. In the penultimate round, the British girl beat her first international master, 39-year-old Lorin D'Costa, a chess coach. In the final round, she drew with grandmaster Vladislav Nevednichy, 54, a two-time champion—making her the youngest player to avoid being beaten by a grandmaster during a competitive game, the Guardian reports. Her final score of 8.5/13 put her ahead of "seasoned professionals," the BBC reports, and her performance was being called "unbelievable."

Her father says his daughter started playing at age 5 "accidentally," after she found a chess board at the family home amid the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. "She was curious and interested, so I started taking her around the English Chess Federation and the people in England who play chess and support chess; they are very friendly and very supportive," he said. The federation's president calls her a "phenomenon" and makes note of her strategy and her "long game" in particular. The "blitz" time control, as the BBC explains, allows each player only a short time limit to make each move. It's even faster than rapid chess, with a game lasting only three to five minutes. (More chess stories.)

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