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UK's youngest chess champion takes on public

Bodhana Sivanandan is sitting down with her arms on a white table that has a chessboard on it. In the background is Trafalgar Square.
Bodhana Sivanandan has been taking on the public in Trafalgar Square [BBC]

The UK's youngest chess champion has been taking on the public at Trafalgar Square's ChessFest.

Bodhana Sivanandan from Harrow, north-west London, took on more than 40 amateurs on Sunday afternoon.

The nine-year-old is set to be the youngest person ever to represent England internationally in any sporting competition when she will join the England Women’s Team at the Chess Olympiad in Hungary later this year.

She will be almost 15 years younger than the next-youngest teammate, 23-year-old Lan Yao.

Bodhana Sivanandan and her dad, Siva
Bodhana Sivanandan and her dad, Siva [BBC]

Speaking to BBC London at the event, her father Siva said: "We don't want to get too excited or carried away, but quietly entertain her chess passion.

"We encourage discipline too, like you would in any sport."

ChessFest is the UK's largest chess event and is aimed at anyone who loves chess or wants to learn to play the game.

Asking if she's ever intimidated by her opponents, she said: "I don't really notice who I'm playing, I just play the board."

Five table with chess sets in Trafalgar Square with people standing around in the background
ChessFest is the UK's largest chess event [BBC]

Two years ago, Bodhana won all three chess world championships for the under-eight age group: the classical game, where a match lasts several hours; the rapid game, which lasts up to an hour, and the blitz game, which can be as short as three minutes.

She added: "My advice to those wanting to learn is that if you lose a game, you should try and learn from it."

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