Published: 29th May 2021
Meet B Savithashri, the 14-year-old Chennai girl who recently won the Woman International Master title in chess
B Savithashri won the third Women International Masters tournament held at the Belgrade Spring Chess Festival 2021 in Serbia
India has produced some very young chess prodigies who have represented the country in the international arena. Joining the list of names is B Savithashri, a Class X student at Velammal Vidyalaya, who recently became a Woman International Master (WIM) at the age of 14. When we spoke to her over a call, Savithashri had just wrapped up online classes for the day. The teenager effortlessly balances her education alongside her dreams of becoming a chess grandmaster. Savithashri received her latest title after defeating her opponents at the third Women International Masters tournament held at the Belgrade Spring Chess Festival 2021 in Serbia during the month of April. She returned to Chennai in May, after playing two more tournaments.
A confident Savithashri says that she would have achieved the 2200 International Chess Federation (FIDE) rating needed to become a WIM had it not been for the pandemic and the lack of tournaments. She became a Woman FIDE Master at the age of 12 with a rating of over 2100. Savithashri has been playing the game since she was five and began playing in tournaments when she turned eight. “My brother was also a chess player, although he doesn’t play anymore. I would sit with him and watch him play, fascinated. He taught me how to play and I was hooked. My father discovered my interest in chess and he encouraged me to play in tournaments. As I kept improving my game, I knew that I wanted to pursue chess,” says Savithashri about how she began playing the board game.
Savithashri has participated in various national and international tournaments as she tells us that the trip to Serbia wasn’t the first time she had to travel abroad for a tournament. Earlier, she had also participated in an Under 12 tournament in Spain in 2019. Speaking about her favourite chess moves, Savithashri says, “I love to play the Sicilian opening and the King’s Indian Defence.” She says that with online classes, it has become a little easier to manage chess with her academics. “Earlier, it would be a problem as I had to travel for tournaments more frequently. But the school has been supportive,” says Savithashri, who says her favourite subject is English. Besides chess, Savithashri also loves to play badminton with her cousin. However, most of the time, she can be found huddled in her room, over a chessboard, striving to improve her game.