Oshini Devindya – the little chess champ
By Kusumanjalee Thilakarathna
Last month, nine-year-old Oshini Devindya Gunawardena became the very first Sri Lankan, to win the FIDE World Youth Chess Championship 2021 in the under 10 girl’s category. Devindya beat Megan Althia from Paraguay, US to bag the title. There were over 150 players from 100 countries who competed under this category.
In an interview with Little Stars, Devindya said that her ambition is to become one of the top 10 chess players in the world. The only female who became one of the top 10 chess players in the Hungarian chess player is Judit Polgar. Devindya considers Judit Polgar her role model.
Devindya, can you tell us more about yourself?
I am studying at Ferguson High School, Ratnapura. I am currently in Grade 4. I have an elder sister. She is 14 years old. We live in Ratnapura town.
I have a pet dog named Kushi. I love to play with it. My hobbies are playing chess, playing tennis and reading books. My favourite book is Vasilisa the Beautiful.
Can you tell us about your experience at FIDE online Youth Chess Cup 2021?
I played in the under 10 category. I was very confident when I participated in the tournament. I was able to beat players from Morocco, India, Thailand, and Mongolia. I lost once to a player from India and one from Vietnam, and drew with players from Turkey and the US.
My final game was with Megan Althia from the US and it was a tough one. We even faced a power cut during the game. I felt a little afraid when the power went out. But my confidence level was the same.
I was very happy to know that I had won the championship.
What inspired you to start playing chess?
I got interested in chess because of my sister. She played chess before I did and she would invite me to play with her. Thanks to her I started liking the game and when I was in Grade 2, I started attending chess classes at school. That was in 2019.
First I joined chess classes in school and later started private coaching. Since December 2019, Sir Akila Kavinda has been coaching me.
Can you remember how you felt when you first won a chess championship?
I have participated in many chess tournaments and most of the recent tournaments I participated in were online. I was very happy and felt excited when I first won. It was in 2019 and I was only 7 years old. That tournament was the SSC open chess tournament and I was placed fourth.
I still feel very happy when I am able to win a game of chess.
Have you felt that virtual competitions are extra challenging?
Not really. I like both face-to-face games and virtual games. I don’t really feel any difference when you are focused on the game.
Do you have a favourite piece in chess?
No, not really. All the pieces on the chessboard, black or white, are very important to me.
If someone younger than you asks for advice what would you tell them?
My advice for them will be to do different puzzles as much as possible. When you complete puzzles your mind will be trained to think fast. And this will help you to make quick decisions when you are playing.
Secondly, I would advise them to play with someone better than them. That will also help them to learn new tricks.
I will also tell them to practise as much as possible so that they will have a lot of experience when they enter a competition.
What is your favourite subject in school?
What’s your future ambition?
My ambition is to be among the top 10 chess players in the world. The only female who became one of the top 10 chess players in the Hungarian chess player is Judit Polgar. I want to be someone like her.
When I am older I would like to become a doctor because I like to help people get healthy.
Who are your supporters?
I want to thank my parents and my sister.
I want to thank the National Chess Federation President Luxman Wijesuriya, my school principal, my class teacher, the teacher-in-charge Ms. Geethani and my chess coach at school Sir Ketawla. I also have to thank my chess coach Sir Akila Kavinda.
Oshini Devindya’s achievements from 2019 – 2021
Gold medal in the 10th Kandy International Rapid Chess Tournament.
Runner-up in the 10th open chess tournament in the under-seven age category
Bronze medal at the Queens Chess Festival conducted by FIDE (International Chess Federation)
Champion under 7 girl’s category at 11th Athugalpura International Chess Challenge in 2019
Champion under 7 girl’s age category Classical event in the Sri Lanka National Youth Girls Chess Championship in 2019.
2nd runner’s up in the Group X, at the Inaugural Sri Lanka Youth Girls (Under 14) Grand Prix in 2020.
Champion under 8 Girls category at National Youth Rapid Chess Championship in 2020.
Champion of under 10 age group category at 11th Sharjah International Online Blitz event
Placed 13th at CFSL Online Under 14 Open Youth Rapid Chess Championship in 2021.
A member of Sri Lanka Team “C” at Asian Nations Cup Online under 14 girls section Chess Championship in 2021.
Placed 14th at CFSL Online Under 14 Girls Youth Rapid Chess
Second runner up in Group ‘D’ of FIDE Online Queen’s Chess Festival Finals in 2021