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Meet Bodhana Sivanandan, 8-Year-Old Girl Becomes First Female Chess Master in the US

An 8-year-old girl from USA named Bodhana Sivanandan has achieved an extraordinary feat in chess by attaining the highest rating for a player under 9 worldwide, with a score of 2088 points, after winning the Cambridge International Open Chess Tournament.

An 8-year-old named Bodhana Sivanandan achieved an extraordinary feat by attaining the highest rating for a player under 9 worldwide, with a score of 2088 points, after winning the Cambridge International Open Chess Tournament.

Bodhana defeated her 30-year-old opponent, Samuel Gaffney, to be declared the winner of the 2024 Cambridge International Open, a prestigious tournament organized by the English Chess Federation.

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At the end of the competition, Bodhana’s FIDE rating (International Chess Federation rating) stood at 2088, marking the highest rating for any player under 9 globally. She was also the only girl in the top 10, the highest-rated 8-year-old girl in chess history, and the third highest-rated player of her age overall, as reported by

Malcolm Pein, the director of international chess at the English Chess Federation and an international chess master, expressed his belief that Bodhana has the potential to become the greatest women’s chess player of all time.

Bodhana’s journey into chess began serendipitously when a family friend gifted her a chess board. “I really liked the pieces, especially the knight and the queen, and I wanted to use them as toys. But, my dad told me that I couldn’t because then the next person who got it couldn’t play. So instead, I just started playing,” she recalled.

Bodhana’s parents mentioned that she learned the game from YouTube videos at age 5 and quickly began excelling in tournaments, both locally and internationally.

Pein remembered recognizing Bodhana’s talent during Chess Fest, an event he organized in London’s Trafalgar Square. Observing her momentary struggle, he offered strategic advice. “I saw the information was processed for about a microsecond. And then she just nodded. ‘Yep, I get it.’ She just gets it,” he recounted.

In 2023, Bodhana was awarded the triple crown, a title given to a player holding age-specific titles in classical, rapid, and blitz chess. She also won the European Women’s Championship, achieving the best result of her career and earning her first woman’s international master title norm.

READ ALSO: Guinness World Record Holder Set to Play Against Nigeria’s No. 1 Chess Mastermind


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