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England’s best-known junior chess player

England’s best-known junior chess player

Dec 19, 2020

The School featured in The Guardian this week after Kushal became the youngest ever winner of the London U8 chess championship despite only starting to play seriously during the pandemic. At just 5 years old he is the youngest ever winner and he also finished 3rd overall in the U10's. 

Kushal is the second top ranked player at the school in the past 12 months with England best know junior, Sheryas Royal, leaving the school at the end of Year 6 last Summer. 

Kushal, aged five, becomes a London champion

A five-year-old boy who learnt the moves less than a year ago has set an age record by winning the London under-eight championship. This annual event, played online last weekend, started in the 1970s boom and launched the careers of England’s elite GMs Gawain Jones and David Howell.

Most chess talents tend to emerge at seven, eight or nine, occasionally at six. Globally, the top prodigy was Samuel Reshevsky, who gave simuls at six and later became the best US player before Bobby Fischer – but there were claims that Reshevsky was born in 1909, not 1911.

Kushal Jakhria, five years eight months old and a first year pupil at the Pointer School, Blackheath, finished level with the top seed, Patrick Damodaran, on 6.5/7, but had a better tie-break. Both had winning chances during their drawn individual game.

Two years ago Damodaran, then five himself, missed out by half a point. He is now England’s No 1 ranked under-nine, with a very respectable 1750 rating, and has already represented England in world events. Jakhria, in contrast, has no over-the board graded games yet, as he only began competitive play during the pandemic.

His under-eight victory was not just a one-off. Jakhria also scored 6/7 in the London under-10, and has a lichess rating in the top 9% of the website’s 250,000 rapid chess players.

Jakhria’s South-East London school has also produced England’s best-known junior, Shreyas Royal. The Pointer chess coach, Fide Master Alexis Harakis, attributes his pupil’s success to his exceptional pattern memory, visual skills and stamina for his age.

3702: 1 Be2! h6 2 Rh4! h5 3 Kg5! Ke4 4 Bf3 mate.

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