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This seven-year-old chess whiz is mastering her moves

It is only the chequered board that keeps restless Kolagatla Alana Meenakshi in her seat. She may be only seven years old but she has her eyes firmly set on becoming a grandmaster one day! The chess prodigy recently bagged two gold medals for India in the Asian Youth Chess Championship 2019 held in Sri Lanka in the rapid format in the under-eight girls category.

As many as 23 countries with 550 players took part in the championship. Alana, who played with Sri Lanka, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Vietnam, Thailand, Hong Kong, Bangladesh and Iran, won the gold in both individual and team category.

“I am excited about the medals. The experience will also help me in preparing for my tournaments ahead,” says Alana, who is now eyeing the Commonwealth Chess Championship (U-8) and World Youth U-8 Championship.

Last year, she bagged a gold in the 14th Asian Schools Chess Championship organised by the Asian Chess Federation and World Chess Federation in the under-seven girls category, to become the Woman Candidate Master.

The first steps

Alana started professional training in chess about two years ago. But when she was a four-year-old her mother Aparna sat with her and simply let her watch a game and then allowed her to play with the chess coins. “As she grew up, I could sense a natural inclination towards chess,” says Aparna, who was a State junior champion in chess herself. Alana is also as good at her studies, we learn.

Is this kind of competition too much pressure for an eight -year-old? “The pressure is only on us, but she loves it,” says mom Aparna. “Alana does get upset if she loses by a close margin, but she has a temperament of analysing her game like a grown-up,” her mom adds.

The young champion devotes 10 to 11 hours a day playing chess. In a span of two years, she won 30 trophies and medals in various district, State, national and international level tournaments. She is being coached by Chennai-based coaching centre Chess Gurukul, guided by noted chess trainer and Woman Grandmaster Aarthie Ramaswamy along with support from the Vizag and AP Chess Associations.

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Printable version | Jun 20, 2021 5:14:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/this-seven-year-old-chess-whiz-is-mastering-her-moves/article26887153.ece

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