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The future Grandmasters of Karnataka - Part I

by Sushrutha Reddy - 13/07/2017

In the recently concluded Karnataka Under-9 State Championship, Sushrutha Reddy got a chance to profile some of the budding talents in the state. Grabbing this opportunity, he not only profiled these chess stars of tomorrow in a very comprehensive manner, but also shared them with us. In this first part, we'll be sharing with you the achievements and stories of all the girls; and in the next part, we'll take a look at the boys. Mind you, these are all the stars of tomorrow, and if one of them goes on to become a world class player, don't tell us that we didn't warn you!

ChessBase takes pride in the fact that they are able to identify world class players when they are young and upcoming. For eg. Frederic Friedel (founder of ChessBase) had been able to not only able to find talents like Anand, Short, Karjakin, Carlsen etc. but also nurture and make them one of the best in the world.


We at ChessBase India have also been able to do our bit.  For example, when we interviewed Nihal Sarin back in December 2015, the boy was rated just 2110. Just one and a half years later, he is an IM with a GM norm and a rating of 2471! 


Karnataka is somehow the hotbed of young and upcoming chess talents. This is thanks to the excellent chess culture that is developing in the state with the State Association conducting regular tournaments and a lot of good chess academies functioning with dedicated coaches. Here are some of the talents (winners from the recently concluded under-9 state championships) that we think will make it big in the years to come.

Shefali A N

Shefali won the gold in under-8 commonwealth that concluded yesterday

It was in April 2017 that Shefali was introduced to Jayaram of Chess Shoots Academy. Influenced by a strong recommendation by his uncle Hanumantha, Jayaram took up the task of training the introvert child. The situation was such that the child was virtually on her own without any professional training since August 2016 - inspite of becoming the Commonwealth Under 8 Girls Chess Champion at Sri Lanka. Jayaram realised that here was a talent that strongly required a professional trainer and took the child under his tutelage. The eventual result of her hard work under the reputed trainer was a 2nd position in the Karnataka State Under 9 Girls Chess Championship 2017. However, more importantly, she retained her Commonwealth Girls Under-8 Champion title in Delhi!


Jayaram has penned the following note detailing his experience in training Shefali:
"When I evaluated her openings, middle games and endgames, I realised that she was a naturally gifted talent and her openings and endgames required a lot of work. A talent like her had to definitely play the main line openings instead of the side lines she used to play with little knowledge of them. My immediate task for her was to set the workout schedule and make a training plan to fix her immediate weaknesses. I had to dedicate a little extra time to her and started working with her 2 to 3 days a week where our training sessions would last 4 to 6 hours per session. They would catch a train from Mandya (a town nearly 100 km away from Bangalore) early morning, finish classes, catch the evening train back and reach home late during the night. This clearly showed the dedication and love of Shefali's family and her towards the game".

"Shefali has an excellent grasping power and I also noticed that she plays a move after giving it a good thought. So I started to work on her openings as a top priority and changed all her lines to the main lines. I must say that she worked relentlessly and was up to date with the work given before the next class. She is always accompanied by her Mother Mrs Nirmala and her Aunt Indra who are putting equal efforts at home to revise work done in class in addition to regular tactics workout and game studies. Another thing that I noticed in her is that she is an uncompromising player and doesn't take draws in equal positions. She had rejected many draw offers in State Under-9 and Commonwealth Championships and sometimes even lost those games. However, I liked this aspect of her approach to the game very much. In the State Under 9 Chess Championship, the rejection of a draw offer cost her the title".

"The future looks very bright for Shefali as it is very rare that we see students of her caliber. She aims to be a Grandmaster and a Women's World Champion for India. I foresee a hitch in higher level training for students of her calibre as the training cost can become expensive. Such players need to attend coaching camps of International Masters(IM) and Grandmasters(GM) at a later stage and start playing serious tournaments immediately in India and abroad to reach top levels in chess wherein the expenditure in serious Indian tournaments amount to half a lakh per event and a tournament abroad can set you back by a couple of lakhs. I sincerely hope that there would be good Samaritans or Corporate bodies to assist such talents as part of their Company Social Responsibility initiatives".


Some Tournament stats of Shefali A N at a glance till date:

At World Level:
1. Gold Medallist at 2017 Commonwealth Girls Under -8, New Delhi.
2. Gold Medallist at 2016 Commonwealth Girls Under -8, Sri Lanka.
3. Silver Medallist at 2015 Asian Schools Girls Under -7 Chess Championships, Singapore.


At National Level:
1. National Champion (Gold Medallist) at 2016 Under 7, Pondicherry.
2. Gold Medallist at 2014 National schools chess Under - 5, New Delhi.


At State Level:
1. Silver Medallist at 2017 State Under-9, Mysore.
2. Gold Medallist at 2016 State Under -7, Mandya.
3. Gold Medallist at 2015 State Under -7, Mandya.
4. Silver Medallist at 2014 State Under -7, Bangalore.

Personal Stats of Shefali:

1. Started Playing chess at the age of 3.5 yrs
2. Mother's name - Mrs Nirmala, Father's name - Mr Narendra , Aunt's name - Indra
3. Current coach - Jayaram R (Chess Shoots Academy)
4. Date of Birth - 26-01-2009
5. Place of residence - Mandya
6. Place of training - Bangalore

Sharadhi Shastry

Sharadhi Shastry

Daughter of Sujatha and D. Shankaranarayana who is working as Senior Manager in Kaveri Grameena Bank, Sharadhi Shastry  learnt chess at the age of six from Suresh at Mysore Chess Centre. Her father attributes her improvement in recent months to Mr. Sathyaprasad Kote of Genius Chess Academy, Puttur and her current coach - Manjunath Jain from Mandya Chess Academy, Mandya.


It was in 2015 when Sharadhi won the first prize in the Children's Dasara Chess Festival - 2015 in under-7 girls category which influenced her parents to take up the game seriously at the professional level. Sharadhi is definitely amongst the most experienced chess players in the under-9 category in Karnataka as the achievements dating back to 2015 show below.


  • She achieved 10th place in Karnataka State Under 7 Chess Championship conducted by Mandya Chess Academy at Mandya during July 2015.
  • She had won 2nd prize in the Under 7 Girls Category in the Karnataka State Rapid Chess Championship - 2015 conducted by Mysore Chess Centre. 
  • She has also won many prizes in state level tournaments – even participating in the Under 11 & 13 categories. 
  • In the recently conducted Karnataka State Under 9 Chess Championship 2017 at Mysore Chess Centre, she secured 6th place.

Shriyana Mallya

Shriyana Mallya

Shriyana Mallya hails from Mangalore and studies from Lourdes Central School. This is a school where many chess talents have studied – Arjun Adappa and Nihal Manjunath immediately come to my mind. She is trained by the famous Deric Chess School (by Deric Pinto and Prasanna Rao) at Mangalore.


We share below Shriyana’s achievements in Chess as provided by her mother, Nandini Mallya.

  • Bronze medal in the under 7 girls category in World School Chess Championship 2017 held at Iasi in Romania from April 21st  to May 1st 2017
  • Karnataka State Under -7 Chess Championship 2017 held at Hotel City Centaur International in Bengaluru from April 2 to 4. She had scored 8 points in 8 round.
  • Gold medal in the under 7 girls category  in National Schools chess Championship held at Nagpur from 5th to 7th January 2017. She had scored 8 points in 9 rounds and claimed the gold with a clear point lead. With this performance, she is qualified to represent India in the World and Asian school chess championship to be held at Romania and China respectively.
  • With this performance at Karnataka State Under -7 School  Chess Championship 2017, she is qualified to represent India in the World and Asian school chess championship to be held at Romania and China respectively.
  • Karnataka State Under -7  runner-up Chess Championship 2016  held at Gandhi Bhavan, Mandya from August 19th  to 21st 2017. She had scored 6 points in 7 round.

  • Karnataka State Under -9 Chess Championship 2017, Secured 4th place held at Mall of Mysuru, Mysuru.

Yashwaswi Kiran

Yashaswi S Kiran

Yashaswi learnt chess at the age of six from her father and thereafter received professional training from Manjunath Jain, a FIDE Instructor and coach of Mandya Chess Academy (MCA), Karnataka. Her father, Shashi Kiran, works as a Manager with the Shakthi Groups in the Sugar Industry.


The child has already won a huge number of trophies by participating in various tournaments in Karnataka which highlights the fact that she has played a lot of chess even at this very young age.


However, the first Trophy will always remain special. In December 2014, Yashaswi participated in the RT Narayan FIDE Rating Chess Tournament conducted by Mandya Chess Academy and emerged as the best Mandya player at the age of six!


In December 2015, she finished third in the Karnataka State Schools Chess Championship conducted by Innovators Chess Academy and participated in the National Schools Championship 2016 in Goa in Under 9 Girls Category. In August 2016 she participated in 1st BRDCA FIDE rated rapid chess tournament and got 1st place in U-8 girls category and obtained a first FIDE rapid rating of ELO 1250.


A real break came in November 2016 when she won the Karnataka State Schools Under 9 Chess Championship, again conducted by Innovators Chess Academy at Bangalore and participated in National Schools Chess Championship-2017 at Nagpur in the Under 9 Category. In the recently concluded Karnataka State Under 9 Girls Chess Championship at Mysore, Yashaswi produced a solid performance by finishing third in the Tournament.


Her father says, “Yashaswi is very ambitious and her favourite chess player is Viswanathan Anand and she wants to become a Grandmaster like him”.

Avantika Banujit

Avantika Banujit

A talkative and curious Avantika who turned 6 was getting involved in everything around her from learning to cook to making sense of chemistry periodic table from her brother’s science textbook. Her parents – Banujit and Vidya - knew that some activity to keep her engaged was inevitable and managed to enroll her in a weekend chess class with Durgesh under Innovators Chess Academy. She soon learned the rhythm of the dancing black and white pieces, though it took a while for her to be brutal to the opponents’ King.


After learning chess for few months, she started attending local tournaments. Her first trophy was in the 16th edition of the Monthly Rapid chess tournament at Silicon City Academy of Secondary Education conducted by Bangalore Rural District Chess Association (BRDCA). She soon fell in love with the game as it was quite visible that she was looking forward to playing in tournaments. She would spring out of bed on weekends well before the alarm rang and wake her parents to be on time!


In 2016, Avantika secured 8th place in Karnataka State Under 7 Girls Chess Championship. Her mother, Vidya, adds, “It was soon visible that she started eating, sleeping and dreaming in black and white! So, we took chess coaching seriously and enlisted her under Sushrutha Reddy of Innovators Chess Academy. With her new coach, a new window of learning opened up in front of the 7-year-old girl. Her learning to use laptop came along with using ChessBase. Learning World history was through Chess players’ life stories. In her two years of playing chess, she has collected 20 trophies and 5 medals, the recent one being 5th place in Karnataka State Under 9 Girls Championship at Mysore. Avantika’s school – GEAR Innovative International School – and its Chairman Dr. M. Srinivasan inspired and motivated her to dream big and has played a major role in her journey thus far. 

Avantika loves to go through Paul Morphy’s games and adores Magnus Carlsen.

D. Jaanvi

D. Jaanvi

Yet another product from Mandya Chess Academy (MCA), Jaanvi has been training under Manjunath Jain and Madhuri Jain since the age of six. Jaanvi has received a lot of encouragement from her parents. Her father, Dilip Kumar, is a businessman in Mandya.


Jaanvi has been participating in Chess Tournaments since December 2014 - she won the 3rd Best Mandya Player Award in the RT NARAYAN FIDE RATING Tournament conducted by  Mandya Chess Academy at the age of six.


Jaanvi has won several trophies from various tournaments in Karnataka. She secured 8th place in Karnataka State Under-9 Girls chess Championship held in Mysore.

About the author

Sushrutha Reddy is a well-known organiser who has been promoting chess at the grassroot level in Bangalore, Karnataka. Currently a chess coach at six schools, he has worked as the Joint Secretary of United Karnataka Chess Association and had been the chief arbiter at almost all tournaments in Bangalore held between 2000 and 2003. He is an occasional writer and had written the cover story on the Fischer-Spassky World Championship Match for The Week magazine in the past. Besides this, he owns the Innovators Chess Academy which has organised more than a hundred Chess Tournaments during the last thirteen years.

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