Chess prodigy from India caught in visa battle in U.K.

His father’s work permit is set to lapse permanently

Updated - April 22, 2018 09:36 pm IST

Published - April 22, 2018 09:15 pm IST - London

Shreyas Royal

Shreyas Royal

A nine-year-old chess prodigy from India is caught up in a battle to stay in the UK after his father’s work visa is set to expire. Shreyas Royal has won a series on chess championships and his parents, Jitendra and Anju Singh, are now appealing to the U.K. Home Office for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) in Britain on the grounds that he is a national asset.

The family had moved to London from Bangalore in 2012 when Shreyas was three years old. “Shreyas’s life is here — He has roots. He will not be able to continue his chess, it really is a terrible situation, father Jitendra told The Times .

The 38-year-old IT project manager with the Tata Group was offered a fixed-term contract in the company’s U.K. office and on September 10 his work visa will lapse permanently. With the backing of Julian Simpole, a trainer who has coached two of the English grandmasters, and Dominic Lawson, president of the English Chess Federation, the family have lodged their appeal with the Home Office. “He pretty much wins every competition he’s in,” Mr. Simpole said, in reference to Shreyas who has been competing professionally for three years now.

“I’ve been coaching Shreyas for nine weeks now. I am amazed. He is so advanced I set him ‘Soviet-style toughness’ lessons — as in no concessions made for his age. He virtually always gets the right answer, he said. “This kid is like something I’ve never seen before. His talent is very highly pronounced. He’s going to be a future world champion and we’d like it to be for Britain,” he added.

Shreyas, who attends Pointer School in Blackheath, south London, on a full scholarship, first learnt to play chess at an after-school club that his mother enrolled him in. He was doing so much sport, swimming, tennis, but I wanted him to do something with his mind, his 37-year-old mother said.

According to the newspaper, Shreyas now spends his weekends and summer holidays travelling across Britain and around the world competing against champions almost 10 years older than him.

“I don’t think the older kids like being beaten by me. The Russians are the hardest to play against, he said. “What I like about chess is that it’s not about being physically aggressive, you have time to use your mind, added Shreyas, who has already won numerous trophies and medals.

He had started playing the game when he got a chess board at the age of five and went on to be named the world’s youngest candidate master within months.

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