A British schoolgirl has become the best female chess player in Europe after winning a continental tournament at the age of eight.
Bodhana Sivanandan, from Harrow in northwest London, was named the best female player at the European Rapid and Blitz championship, held in Zagreb, Croatia.
Sivanandan, who began playing chess at just five-years-old, during the COVID-19 pandemic, beat her first international master, England’s women’s coach 39-year-old Lorin D’Costa, in the penultimate round.
She will now face two-time Romanian champion Vladislav Nevednichy, 54, in the final round.
According to Mail Online, Competitors were impressed with her 5/11 result in the rapid round, and her performance in the 13-round blitz being hailed by fellow players as phenomenal.
Irina Bulmaga, 30, the Romanian international master and woman grandmaster who was also at the competition, said it was an ‘unbelievable result’ by an eight-year-old, adding: ‘Winning the first prize among women ahead of me and a bunch of other experienced players! What a phenomenon she is!’
Lawrence Trent, the chess commentator and international master, wrote on X: ‘Bodhana Sivanandan is one of the greatest talents I’ve witnessed in recent memory. The maturity of her play, her sublime touch, it’s truly breathtaking.
‘I have no doubt she will be England’s greatest player and most likely one of the greatest the game has ever seen.’
Dominic Lawson, president of the English Chess Federation, told the Times the Londoner’s performance at the speed chess event was ‘completely remarkable but not that surprising, because she is a phenomenon’.
‘It’s an extraordinary result for an eight-year-old and something we’ve certainly never seen in this country.
‘She has a remarkably mature playing style, it’s strategic and patient. She has what you might describe as a long game.’
Bodhana is currently the world’s third-highest rated player born in 2015 in classical chess.