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This 12-year-old is watching your every move!

by Sagar Shah - 26/01/2018

Chess gets space on the front page in The Hindu when Vishy Anand wins a World Championship. Recently, the newspaper carried the story of a 12-year-old that all the readers of ChessBase India know very well - Avathanshu Bhat. Anshu, as the boy is called by his friends, was working with the ChessBase India team at the IIFLW tournament in Mumbai. When Hindu special correspondent Nandakumar Marar visited the tournament he was pleasantly surprised to see such a young boy working so passionately as a journalist! This is his story of Avathanshu that was published in the Hindu: 

A Mumbai school boy who loves to write about chess and interview Grandmasters

This article was originally published in the front-page of The Hindu


Avathanshu Bhat was among the many under-13 kids milling around the rows of chess boards at Mount Litera International School. But unlike many of the serious-looking children busy solving complex problems involving rooks and knights, the 12-year-old was content to watch from a distance and take mental notes. After the games got over, he would chat up the players who had come to participate in the IIFL Wealth 3rd International Chess Championship. He would quiz them about their strategies, their best and worst moments, and interests away from the board.

Avathanshu (left) interviewing one of the biggest talents in the world 14-year-old American grandmaster Awonder Liang in Sitges, Spain

This cheerful school-boy with curious eyes is not quite the typical chess prodigy — a creature that is almost a stereotype today. Rather, his talent lies in describing the game and drawing out its champions in elaborate interviews. The seventh standard student from Podar International School, Powai, is Mumbai’s youngest chess writer, contributing regularly for the chess news portal, Apart from champions his own age, Bhat has interviewed Grandmasters from around the world. Meeting the recently-crowned rapid chess World Champion Viswanathan Anand was one of the highlights of his already eventful career as a chess commentator.

Avathanshu and the founders of ChessBase India Amruta and Sagar with the Madras Tiger

ChessBase India co-founders, International Master (IM) Sagar Shah and women’s IM-elect Amruta Mokal taught Bhat to play chess. “Avathanshu would come to the coaching classes carrying a book, sometimes Satyajit Ray’s Feluda, or JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. I realised then that he was different,” says Shah, who encouraged the boy to write about chess after reading his blog. The questions he posed to Anand ranged from the intricacies of rapid chess to his favourite filmstars, says Bhat. Anand was the special guest on the closing day of the IIFL competition.

The chess-entrepreneur Avathanshu had setup a ChessBase India stall at the Powai fest!

Bhat has also covered chess events in Spain, notably the Sunway Sitges International Chess Festival, where Canadian player Aman Hambleton emerged as his favourite due to “his openness.” Supriya Bhat, the boy’s mother and travel companion, says that Avathanshu is quiet at home and talks very little. “He is mostly absorbed in movies and books. I wonder how he changes when he is in the chess world, meeting strangers and asking adults to answer his questions.” “I thought chess commentary is a nice way to learn more about the game, to get to know the players. I started by writing about my most memorable experiences in my blog, and then slowly moved into writing on chess,” says the young chess writer.

Avathanshu interviewing Aman Hambleton after the latter made his GM title at the Sunway Sitges 2017.

Designated a ‘junior author’ by ChessBase India, the schoolboy says the big challenge is to get players to open up. “When I interview players, sometimes they are reluctant to answer or they reply too casually. But I try to find out how difficult their journey has been, and the hardships they went through before becoming a grandmaster.”

More about Avathanshu Bhat:

Avathanshu Bhat is a 12-year-old chess player from Mumbai. Apart from being a chess fanatic, he is a voracious reader and his favourite books include Wonder by R.J. Palacio, Lord of the rings by J.R.R. Tolkien and the complete adventures of Feluda by Satyajit Ray. He loves Daniel King and enjoys his Power Play DVDs very much. He maintains his own blog. Like his FaceBook page for more updates!


Read more articles by Avathanshu Bhat:

Life of a young chess player

Joy of losing

G. Akash wins the Grand Hyderabad affair

10-year-old boy's deep calculation (50,000+ hits on Youtube)

12-year-old chessentrepreneur Avathanshu Bhat

Chess species classified

Hemant Sharma becomes International Master

Colours of Black and White

Champion from Chudamani - IM Sidhant Mohapatra

Blindfold simul by Timur Gareyev

A letter from 2050

50,000 hits on Youtube!

About the author:

Nandakumar Marar is a special correspondent for the Hindu and the SportsStar. He likes to work on stories which are different from the routine ones like the one on Avathanshu.

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