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The most talented 8-year-old in the world right now - Bodhana Sivanandan!

by Sneha Tiwari - 15/07/2023

There are talented young chess players all over the world. They all have different journeys and differing aspirations in their lives. However, a few of them shine so brightly through their hard work that the light they emit inspires others. Sagar Shah interviewed one such very talented kid, who might easily be the most talented 8-year-old in the world right now. Yes, we are talking about the highly skilled and talented Bodhana Sivanandan. The 8-year-old talent from London recently achieved something truly amazing. Bodhana finished first at the world's cadets under 8 in rapid and blitz. What is more amazing is that she did it with a perfect score of 11/11, winning all her games in both formats. Bodhana finished 1st in rapid with a perfect score of 11, while the second seed was at 8 points, and in the blitz section, the second seed was at 7 points. The World Cadets under-8 Rapid and Blitz 2023 were held in Batumi, Georgia. How did Bodhana manage to pull off this incredible feat? Let's uncover that in this article!

The Preparation, Strategy, secret behind Bodhana Sivanandan's success

Bodhana Sivanandan - an amazing talent from England

Being the humble human being she is, when Sagar asked her what the secret behind this victory of hers was, she said, "I don't really have a secret. I just played naturally and won the games." However, it is natural for people to take a back seat and start lacking off when they know they have achieved the set goal. But with Bodhana, it was different. What's intriguing about her is that around round 9 Bodhana's score was such that it was obvious that it would be her who would win the tournament, so what motivated her to go on and win all the games? To this, she says that she was more focused on collecting the ratings, so she had to win all her games.


Bodhana is rated 1771 in Rapid and 1884 in Blitz and aims to become the youngest grandmaster in history. However, the journey is not easy for her, the example can be seen in this tournament. Even though she won all the games, she gained 1 ELO point in rapid. But that is the harsh reality of chess when you compete with players who are lower-rated than you.


When Sagar asked if winning all the games was something she expected, Bodhana said, "I expected this result because last year I managed to do the same and wanted to repeat that." That is one of the key qualities that a good player must possess. The motivation to do better than you already have. The zeal to never stop is what helps them grow and learn.


Being such a talented young player, one would expect that Bodhana would have an arduous training schedule, long practice sessions, and be training under professional coaches. However, she is just a naturally talented kid. To answer the question, Bodhana says," I play league matches every week once, my coaching is supported by English chess federation and e-therapeutics. Apart from that, for my practice sessions, I do puzzles from UK Chess magazines, and I study my own openings. In reference to your last question, I do not have a personal trainer as of now.” 

Bodhana after winning world cadets under 8 championship

Taking a detour in the past, let's talk a little bit about how Bodhana started playing chess.


The journey of this young talent started around COVID when her father's friend gave her father a few of the things that he wanted to donate to the charity. His father was about to give it to the charity when Bodhana found a chess set with beautiful pieces inside. She got so fascinated by it that she kept the game for herself and started asking her dad questions related to the game. Her dad, who had no idea about the game himself, learned it with her. At this point, it would be interesting to know that Bodhana started playing when she was 5.5 years old, and within 2.5 years, she has managed to do so well. Apart from chess, Bodhana is highly interested in music.


Further, Sagar and Bodhana went on to discuss one of her favourite games from Rapid and Blitz.

World Championship: Round 3: Sivanandan, Bodhana- Sobirova, Mumtozbegim (1-0)

Position after 16..Be7

The clash between the two players was a treat to watch in this game. White had a significant advantage from the start and was pushing. 


White dominated the whole game beautifully. After Be7, the game was almost in the hands of white. After ...f6, the black’s position downgraded rapidly on the kingside, and the ball was completely in white’s favour. 

Position after Kg7

However, after Kg7, if the rook had gone back to f1, Black would have gained great defensive chances with f5. But Bodhana played 20. Qf3 Bb7 21. Rf1, and after a couple of simple moves the game was over for black.

World Championship Blitz: Rekhviashvili, Mariam- Sivanandan, Bodhana (0-1)

In the second game, Bodhana was black and played the Caro-Kann defence, which she says is her favourite opening. Black was a little confined by the space out of the opening. However, it all started to come together soon.

Position after 18. Ne6

After 18. Ne6, white could have easily defended its bishop by taking it to e3, but she played Bd2 and gave up a free pawn. The game could easily have been drawn, if the queen were traded, but Bodhana decided to keep the queens on board. At 43, white could have defended with Qh3, but she went to Kg1, which was a huge blunder from her side, as on the next move black checkmated the opponent with Qh1.

Position where the game could have been drawn

After move 26, the game could easily have been drawn, if the queen were traded, but Bodhana decided to keep the queens on board. At move no. 43, white could have defended with Qh3, but she went to Kg1, which was a huge blunder from her side, as on the next move black checkmated the opponent with Qh1.

When Sagar asked Bodhana what her aim in chess is, she replied by saying that she wants to become the youngest Grandmaster in the world.

A still from the interview!

One thing that is sure from the above interview is the power of right coaching, which is needed for the perfect honing of young talent. Bodhana's parents supported and guided her in the best possible way, which has helped her become the most talented 8-year-old in the world right now.

Interview with Bodhana by IM Sagar Shah