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Beating Grandmasters and Chicken Pox: Adithya A Chullikkad

by Himank Ghosh - 04/02/2023

Playing Chess tournaments is not an easy task by any means - you have to be in the best possible physical and mental state if you want to perform well. A whole new set of Challenges are added when you go to play an event in a foreign country! 14-year-old Kerala youngster Adithya A Chullikkad did exactly that, and he gained a total of 100 elo points in the Rilton Cup held at Stockholm, Sweden. Check out the story of his experience travelling with his coach Saketh Pedagandham of Kings Chess Academy, and playing in a very strong field. Photo: Adithya A Chullikkad

The 14-year-old who increased 804 Rating points in 7 tournaments - Adithya A Chullikkad

With 79 Grandmasters in the country already, it is not an easy task anymore to follow all their games anymore. Add the enormous number of young talents who are in the rise, and it becomes almost certain that one player or the other flies under the radar! One such player is the 14-year-old Adithya A Chullikkad from Ernakulam, Kerala.

Adithya in action at the Vlissingen at the  HZ University of Applied Sciences Chess Tournament 2022 | Photo: Official website

Starting from the month of July 2022 to January 2023, Adithya played 7 tournaments all across Europe. His performance in these events were extraordinary! The first tournament in which he gained a lot of rating points was the  Sparkassen Chess Trophy 2022 B-Open, Dortmund, Germany.

In a strong field where his competitors were rated 300-400 points higher than him, Adithya finished 7th, became the best Under-14 player and increased his rating by 205.6 points!

Another impressive performance by Adithya came at the Dutch Open 2022 - Reserve A , Dieren, Netherlands. Another big rating jump came - by 219.6 points!

This is a list of the six tournaments Adithya played consecutively. Every tournament, he was gaining a huge amount of rating points and experience!

1.  Sparkassen Chess Trophy 2022 B-Open, Dortmund, Germany, 16th July 2022 - Could finish 7 of 9 and increased 205.6 Points , Got Best U 14  prize

2.  Dutch Open 2022 - Reserve A , Dieren, Netherlands , 26th July 2022, Increased 219.6 Points

3.  HZ University of Applied Sciences Chess Tournament 2022, Vlissingen, Netherlands, Increased 83.2 Points

4.  Torneig Ciutat de Barcelona Obert de Sants 2022 Grupo A, Sants, Barcelona, 19th August 2022, Increased 109.2 Points

5.  FE Milazzo Isole Eolie - A, Milazzo, Italy, 30th August 2022, Increased 97.6 Points

6.  Groningen Chess Festival, I played a mini event of 3 rounds and lost 9 rating points there, just before the Rilton cup.


However, none of these tournaments were as strong as the prestigious Rilton Cup 2023, which took place in Sweden. The tournament's top seed was none other than GM Sasikiran Krishnan, that alone says a lot about the strength of the tournament! In this amazingly strong field, Adithya scored 4/9 and increased his rating by 100 points!

Adithya's scorecard at the Rilton Cup 2023

But more often than not, the rating gained and points scored in a tournament does not tell the full story about a chess player's performance. Adithya's story at the Rilton Cup was really something else! The young boy was accompanied by his coach Saketh Pedagandham to the snow-filled beautiful city of Stockholm, Sweden.

In the snow-covered streets of Stockholm!

Adithya made a very strong start in the tournament. In the first round, he defeated International Master Willow Johan B, followed by a draw in the 2nd round against GM Michael Oratovsky. In the 3rd round, he played a beautiful game against Grandmaster Erik Blomqvist and scored a win! Adithya sends us the annotated PGN of this memorable game:

Defeating GMs and IMs, and some sightseeing at the beautiful city of Stockholm!

Round 4 was a tough game for Adithya, he ended up losing due to his bad opening choice. Rounds 5-7 were all very close games against strong players. All of these games were quite long and ended in a draw! With two more rounds to go, Adithya had already gained 100 elo points from these 7 games - scoring 1 loss, 2 wins and 4 draws. But this is where disaster struck!

Down with Chicken Pox

In Adithya's own words, " After returning home from the 7th round game,I found out that I have a pox. Not being sure what was it, I called my parents with fear. My coach Saketh examined, then had an online consultation with the doctor, and it was confirmed that I have Chicken pox. I was deeply saddened that I cannot play my next game with Aditya Mittal. I was really hoping to achieve an IM Norm in the event, and also wanted to cross 2300. I wanted to play the round 8 despite having fever and Chicken pox, but doctors advised me to take rest as it’s a contagious disease."  

Stranded outside the country, unable to finish the tournament and sick - this was definitely not the kind of thing Adithya was hoping for!

This was not an easy situation for young Adithya. He had to withdraw from the tournament as it was impossible to play in such a state. His coach, FI Saketh Pedagandham helped him a lot during this time, taking care of the youngster like his own son ! Adithya was admitted to a hospital in Sweden for one week before he recovered completely.

Every player needs an amazing coach like Saketh! FI Saketh Pedagandham is a well-known coach at Kings Chess Academy.

Takeaways from the tournament

Despite having a rather anticlimactic end, this was an excellent tournament for the youngster. Playing only 7 out of 9 rounds in a prestigious tournament like the Rilton Cup, Adithya had a rating performance of 2489 and an 100-point rating jump! With the support of his coach and getting adequate treatment at the Hospital, Adithya is back on his feet and mentions that he is completely prepared to play his next event. When asked who would he like to thank for his performance, Adithya told us the following:

"I would like to thank FI Saketh Pedagandham who accompanied me all for all the tournaments, and gave all the new opening preparations from time to time. I also wanted to thank Coach IM Srinath rao Sir & IM Rakesh Kumar Jena sir."

IM Srinath Rao is a very strong player, and the Academic director of Kings Chess Academy. Here's a nice picture of Srinath travelling to Stockholm with his student Adithya!

Odisha IM Rakesh Kumar Jena is a 21-year-old promising youngster himself, on the road to becoming a Grandmaster! He is also a very strong coach.

Playing chess not only means taking part in different tournaments, it also means travelling to different parts of the world. Your goal is to keep improving always, and in the way you will have various kinds of experiences - good and bad. But this is what creates character in a person. We are sure that this one will mould Adithya into a better player than before, and he would continue his killer form!

We end the article with one of Adithya's most cherished moments - meeting the one and only Vishy Anand at Dortmund, where he was playing the No-castling chess tournament!


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