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The girl who excels at everything she does – WCM Suhaani Lohia

by Nagesh Guttula - 27/04/2017

Suhaani Lohia is just 7 years old and one of the youngest Woman Candidate Masters in the world. The thing that makes Suhaani unique is that she is not just a great chess player, but she excels at just about everything she does! She has thrice in a row bagged the star athlete award in her school, plays soccer, is about to have her first piano recital very soon and attends speech and drama classes. Get a peek into the life of this young talent and also gauge her chess skills by means of one of her best games.

From being inspired to becoming an inspiration

By Durga Nagesh Guttula

A girl leaned on the glass door, watching the ongoing chess tournament, her brother was winning one of the most important championships. But in that moment, something changed. The gravity, the serenity, and the commitment – it affected that girl and she knew, that chess was for her too.


That was how Suhaani Lohia walked into the world of Chess, following in the foot steps of her brother, Siddhant, the former World Schools Champion. He was the inspiration that catapulted her into the game of the intellectuals!

The chess siblings: Sidhanth and Suhaani Lohia

Meet Suhaani Lohia, now that you know the story of where she got her inspiration from, let's walk you through the journey of how she became one. First introductions, Suhaani is a 7-year-old from Mumbai and studies in Dhirubhai Ambani International School.

 

She is one of the youngest rated players in the world, she is the first Woman Candidate Master (WCM) from Mumbai, has claimed a position of being the top seed in some of the most prestigious national and international tournaments, bronze medal at national under-7, and has an ELo of 1125! She qualified to represent India at the prestigious Asian Youth Chess Championship, in Uzbekistan and finished fourth in the Rapid section just missing out on a medal by a whisker.

Fighting against some of the best players in her age category

I want to be a Woman Grandmaster and make my country proud!
The game below was played by Suhaani just a few days ago at the IIT Powai festival. It shows how she is able to keep control and play chess at a pretty decent level against a player rated 400 points above her.
[Event "Powai IIT Festival"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2016.03.19"]
[Round "4"]
[White "Suhaani, Lohia"]
[Black "Rupesh, Padave"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C50"]
[WhiteElo "1125"]
[BlackElo "1535"]
[Annotator "Sagar,Shah"]
[PlyCount "115"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Bc4 h6 $2 {A waste of move in the opening.}
5. Nxd4 Nxd4 $2 {Letting the queen centralize.} 6. Qxd4 $16 Qf6 7. Qxf6 (7. e5
$1 $16) 7... Nxf6 8. O-O Bc5 9. Nc3 a6 $6 10. e5 Nh7 11. Nd5 $1 Bb6 12. a4 $1 {
Excellent play by White. The c7 pawn will be lost.} O-O 13. a5 Bd4 14. Bf4 $1 (
14. Nxc7 Rb8 15. Bf4 {was also possible.}) 14... c6 15. Ne7+ Kh8 16. Nf5 $6 (
16. Nxc8 Raxc8 17. Rad1 Bxb2 18. Rxd7 $18) 16... Bc5 $6 (16... d5 $1 17. Nxd4
dxc4 $14) 17. Rfe1 $6 (17. Nd6 $1 $18) 17... Ng5 (17... d5 $1 18. Bd3 Bxf5 19.
Bxf5 Ng5 $14) 18. Bxg5 hxg5 19. Nd6 Kg8 20. Ne4 Be7 21. Re3 $1 {The rook goes
to g3.} g6 22. Rg3 Kg7 23. Nxg5 Bxg5 24. Rxg5 f6 25. exf6+ Rxf6 26. Re1 {
White is a pawn up and has more active pieces.} d5 27. Bd3 Kh6 28. Ree5 Be6 29.
h4 (29. Rxg6+ $1 Rxg6 30. Bxg6 $18) 29... Bf7 30. Be2 Re6 31. Rxe6 Bxe6 32. Re5
Bf5 33. c3 Rd8 34. Re7 Rd7 35. Rxd7 Bxd7 {This is a winning bishop endgame as
all the Black queenside pawns are on the same colour as the bishop.} 36. Kf1 c5
37. Ke1 g5 38. h5 (38. hxg5+ Kxg5 39. Kd2 $18) 38... g4 39. Kd2 Kxh5 40. Ke3
Kg5 41. f3 $1 {creating an outside passer.} gxf3 42. Bxf3 Bc6 43. b4 $1 {
Taking the d4 square for the king.} cxb4 44. cxb4 Kf5 45. Kd4 Ke6 46. g4 Kd6
47. g5 Ke6 48. g6 Kf6 49. g7 Kxg7 50. Bxd5 Bb5 51. Bxb7 Kf6 52. Kc5 Ke6 53. Bc6
Bf1 54. Kb6 Kd6 55. Bb7 Kd7 56. Bxa6 Bxa6 57. Kxa6 Kc7 58. b5 {A game not
without errors, but just goes to show that the 7-year-old is capable of
playing quite steady and strong chess.} 1-0

An inspiration to many girls across the country, Suhaani has carved a niche for herself in the world chess fraternity at a very rapid pace, and apparently has been very calm throughout the process. Her mother, Sheetal Lohia, describes her daughter as a composed, mature, calculated and patient child in general who is self-motivated. Sounds too good to be true? So is this – she has thrice in a row bagged the star athlete award in her school, plays soccer, is about to have her first piano recital very soon and attends speech and drama classes. Super girl, are those the words that crossed your mind? Yes, we think the same.

Way ahead of her competitors! That's Suhaani, right in the centre!

Not just that. Suhaani has displayed wisdom beyond her age and is very reserved about her ambitions and believes only in competing with herself. She also has a heart of gold, because she has been known to let her opponents win or draw sometimes when she feels they are under too much pressure!

Sharing comes naturally to this 7-year-old

Well you know the old cliché, legends have a way about them, a substance that is born once in a generation and Suhaani Lohia is shaping up to just that, it's been a very effortless ride even with her coach, Balaji Guttula, at SMCA, the place where she was shaped into the player that she is today. Balaji believes that Suhaani's potential is most definitely untapped even yet and she is capable of much more than her fans have imagined until now.

With her coach G. Balaji

This is the story of Suhaani Lohia, seven year old and an inspiration already, she is the poster child of Genext and we sure can't wait for the happy ending!

The chess family: Suhaani and Sidhant with their parents Sushir, who is the MD at Barclays Capital and a contributor to ChessBase India newspage, and Sheetal who is a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) and partner at Viviaan Creations.

About the author

Durga Nagesh Guttula is a special sports correspondent at the Press Club, Mumbai. He is also a freelance sports writer. He is the CEO and director of the South Mumbai Chess Academy (SMCA). He is also the Jt.Secretary Mumbai City District Chess Association(MCDCA). He is an International FIDE rated chess player and has written many articles for ChessBase in the past.

 

More articles by Nagesh for ChessBase India:

The one man army!

A visionary's take on Make in India

Some dreams do come true

Mrudul Dehankar: Another Champion in the making