9-Year-Old Bodhana To Become England’s Youngest Ever Olympian


British chess sensation WFM Bodhana Sivanandan continues to make chess history. Now the nine-year-old prodigy is set to become the youngest player ever to represent England in an international sporting competition.

Sivanandan is one of five players selected for England’s women’s team in the 2024 Chess Olympiad, that takes place in Budapest, Hungary from September 11-22. She will play alongside veterans IM Jovanka Houska, IM Harriet Hunt, and WGM Katarzyna Toma, all in their 30s and 40s, while WGM Yao Lan is 23.

“I’m so pleased to be picked for England. It’s a great honor and I’m looking forward to being part of a team,” Sivanandan said.

Teammate Houska commented, “I’ve had a lot of players say to me they’re terrified of playing her!”

According to the Guardian, she is likely the youngest to ever represent England in any international sporting competition. England selector and chief executive of Chess In Schools & Communities IM Malcolm Pein called her inclusion entirely justified.

“Bodhana’s success at European level includes victories over many established players, and her fearless style of play and immense focus on the board has already caused a sensation in the chess world,” he told the Guardian.

Her fearless style of play and immense focus on the board has already caused a sensation in the chess world.

 —Malcolm Pein

9-year-old Bodhana Sivanandan is set to represent England in the Chess Olympiad.
9-year-old Bodhana Sivanandan is set to represent England in the Chess Olympiad.

Sivanandan will be part of a powerful England team, whose open representatives—GMs Nikita Vitiugov, David Howell, Michael Adams, Gawain Jones, and Luke McShane, are the country’s top-five on the rating list and potential medal contenders. 

While Sivanandan is set to become one of the youngest participants in the 2024 Chess Olympiad, she won’t be the youngest ever. In 2022, eight-year-old Randa Sedar played for Palestine. Other youngsters have also played for smaller nations.

Sivanandan has stunned the chess world and gained attention all over the world with her record-breaking performances. Last year she became England’s first World Youth Chess Champion in 25 years, winning a historic triple gold medal by scoring an incredible 33/33. She followed up by sensationally winning the woman’s prize in the European Woman’s Blitz Championship, beating an IM and drawing a GM along the way.

Her rise continued this year, jumping 327 rating points to 2185 and positioning herself as the world’s second highest-rated player under nine, only rivaled by compatriot Ethan Pang. She recently earned the WFM title and is edging closer to the woman international master title as well, becoming the youngest ever to earn a norm.

Sivanandan has also caught the attention of the greatest female player in history, GM Judit Polgar. Earlier this year, Bodhana met the legend in her home in Budapest, getting a masterclass that was filmed by Chess.com. A video of the meeting is set to be released this month.

Bodhana will next be in action on July 16 in Kids vs. Stars on Chess.com, where she will compete against Houska and WGM Nemo Zhou in a fun series of matches.





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