Making the right moves – IOL

Chess Tournament

By Tanya Waterworth 3h ago

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Durban - Kaylee Budhram from Phoenix is only 8 years old and is taking the chess world by storm.

The Grade 3 pupil from Hopeville Primary has just won the 2020 Dove Youth Chess Tournament in the U10 category, up against 100 other participants from 10 different countries. This was after she took the silver medal in the African Youth Chess Championship in December, which had 260 players from 26 federations across Africa, when she was only 7. She also received the title of elect Woman Candidate Master that is normally only achieved after many years of playing chess.

In January, she was invited to play at the South African Junior Chess Championships in Boksburg where she won the SA Under 8 Blitz Chess Champion and the Girls Wildcard Chess Tournament.

And for anyone who has been watching the Netflix hit series The Queen's Gambit, Kaylee's uncanny ability in chess mirrors the heroine, Harmon, a Kentucky orphan and chess prodigy.

This week, a softly spoken Kaylee said she was extremely excited to have been placed first in her latest tournament.

"I have loved every minute of all my games. I feel so happy when I play, I feel alive," she said.

At the beginning of the year, Kaylee was preparing for tournaments to be held throughout the year, including the Commonwealth Games in India, the Youth Cadets in India and the World Schools Chess Championships in Panama, but the Covid-19 pandemic halted all tournaments.

"The thing I miss the most during lockdown and this virus pandemic is not being able to play OTB (over the board) chess tournaments, as I love to feel the chess pieces as I move them on the board. They come alive for me," said Kaylee.

Her mother, Shannon, said Kaylee started playing chess when she was 7 years old.

"Kaylee has always been quiet and introverted and someone suggested to us that she take up an extramural activity.

"I found out that chess was a good game for quiet children and found a club. In the second week, the coach told us that Kaylee was exceptional.

"She loves it and we are happy she has found something. She's in her own head with the chess pieces."

Shannon added that her husband and Kaylee have also started a chess club at school, which has helped her daughter to grow in confidence.

Kaylee does have her own chess set, but has had to play largely online since lockdown.

Shannon said: "She wants to work towards owning an electronic chess board, although I'm not actually sure what that is exactly or if there is such a thing, as I had never played chess or heard much about the game until Kaylee started teaching herself and us.

"With the onset of the pandemic resulting in all her international tournaments being cancelled, some countries took to hosting tournaments online, which is why she now plays online almost all of the time, some friendly games and some competitively," said Shannon.

Independent on Saturday

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Making the right moves - IOL

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