Chess: Bodhana Sivanandan, seven, shines at British Championships | Chess

Torquay is the most popular venue for the English Chess Federation’s annual congress and the 2022 version has attracted over 1,000 attendees. The learning company Chessable, part of the Play Magnus Group, is a sponsor.

Due to a near overlap of dates, none of the five Grand Masters who represented England are taking part in the Chennai Olympiad in Torquay. In their absence, defending champion GM Nick Pert is the top seed in a contest where many have chances.

After six of the nine rounds, the old and the new generation share the lead. GM Keith Arkell, 61, and Cambridge maths student Harry Grieve, 21, are both unbeaten at 5/6, half a point ahead of the field. Grieve won in emphatic style in round six.

Prior to that, the U16 Championship sparked controversy when the leader was disqualified during the seventh and final round. Apparently it was a clear case of Igor Rausi syndrome (mobile phone in the toilet) and there was discontent because players and parents had complained to the referees from round two onwards.

It was an eye-catching performance in Open Rapid, the fast time limit championship. Youngest contestant Bodhana Sivanandan, seven, began a stunning sequence of two wins against the 2100, a tie against a 2200 Candidate Master, and a win against the British U12 champion.

In round six (of seven), with 4/5, she was promoted to board two, opposite Arkell, a legend of English chess, he of the World 50+ Team’s double gold, the current leader of British championships in the fifth round, author of the tribute Arkell’s Endings, and the man who always scores with rooks and bishops against rooks.

Bodhana Sivanandan during the British Championships in Torquay. Photo: Brendan O’Gorman/Handout

“I only won because of her inexperience,” he said. “She got a passive position and defended a queen and two rooks that quit, but she understood the importance of counterplay, so she caused problems by activating her queen. There was a fleeting moment where she could have held, but she missed it and had a lost king and pawn endgame.”

The occasion evoked a memory of a meeting with another child prodigy: “One day, like with Magnus [Carlsen], it will be something to brag about that I have a 1-0 score against her, he said. Arkell v Carlsen, Gausdal 2002, a 28-move tactical skirmish in which the 11-year-old Norwegian came out worse, deserves to be better known.

Eminent author and GM John Nunn is ranked higher than any of the championship players, but he has only entered the over-65s, where he is the odds-on favorite.

Round three (Thomas Villiers v Ioanis Lentzos) featured an opening trap worth remembering: 1 e4 c6 2 Nf3 d5 3 d3 dxe4 4 Ng5 exd3 5 Bxd3 Nf6? 6 Nxf7! Kxf7 7 Bg6+! hxg6 8 Qxd8 and White soon won. Then Harry Grieve, 21, reached 5/6 with a powerful attack.

England currently have several promising teenage girls, so it was an imaginative move by the ECF, as there were no qualified participants in the championship itself, to switch the Girls U18 competition to the Major Open.

The Meltwater online Tour has resumed in Miami this week with the $300,000 FTX Crypto Cup, an eight-player all-play best-of-four event in each round. Carlsen is the heavy favourite, but he faces ambitious teenage stars Alireza Firouzja, 19, and Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa, 17 (start 5pm, free to watch live on

The world champion had a rocky moment when he lost with White in the first of a four-game match against rising American talent Hans Niemann, 19, whose post-match comment was succinct: “The chess speaks for itself.” Carlsen then recovered, won the third game with 1 a3, and won the match 3-1.

After four of the seven rounds, Carlsen and Praggnanandhaa were tied for the lead on maximum points.

As a congratulations for his Olympiad gold medal for England, GM David Howell has been offered a place on the Meltwater Champions Tour in October, an event where he is usually the main commentator.

3829: 1…Ng4! White resigned because of 2 Qd2 Rh1+! 3 Nxh1 Rxh1+! 4 Kxh1 Qh2 mate.

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