Game changer at four – youngest chess player

6/24/2013 – What is the earliest age at which a child can learn chess – actually master all the rules of the game, play at club level and participate in national-level tournaments? Wrong – earlier! Sparsh Bisht learnt the moves at three years and ten months, and four months later has been playing in tournaments against opponents double his age. He teaches us: never underestimate the mind of a child!

Sparsh Bisht was born in May 2009 in the Indian town of Gurgaon, near Delhi. He learnt chess last November, and has already participated in participated in national-level tournaments. And celebrated his fourth birthday last month! Vineet Gill met Sparsh and described his impressions in one of India's most prestigious newspapers.

Game changer at 4: Gurgaon's youngest chess player

By Vineet Gill

When you first meet Sparsh Bisht, he comes across as just another sprightly four-year-old, driven by impatience and the urge for activity. There's something cutely endearing in the way he runs into the bedroom to get the chessboard after asking whether he should carry the clocks along or not. Similarly, when he is setting down the pieces, you marvel at the kid's ability to remember that the bishop goes next to the knight, and give him a patronizing, indulgent smile as he insists that he is going to play with the whites.

Sitting across the chessboard, however, his demeanor changes and so does yours. He behaves at least five times his age, the aggressive grown-up hammering his pieces down on the board and following this up with a glare. And his moves – thought through at least one step in advance – soon start making you feel like an embarrassed child, while Sparsh irritably points out your 'touch and move' foul.

Born in May 2009, Sparsh (photo above by Free Press Journal) is the youngest chess player in Gurgaon, who has already participated in two national-level tournaments, and one state- and district-level championship each. "He started playing last year in November, when he was three years and ten months old," said Sparsh's mother, Preeti Bisht.

Chess talent, like a mathematical or musical ability, shows up early on life, and once identified has to be carefully cultivated. In Sparsh's case, it was his father Rajendra Bisht, an engineer in Gurgaon, who became his first inspiration as an early chess pal. "I was down with knee injury and was spending a lot of time playing chess on the laptop. And I could see that the game interested Sparsh a lot," Bisht said.

The kid took exactly a week to absorb the basics – which piece goes where and can move how across the chequerboard. And by March 2013, he was preparing for his first tournament, held at a school in Delhi. "I was told over there that we should get him a chess coach," the father said.

The state level tournament that Sparsh played in Gurgaon, went remarkably well for him – he was awarded the second position in the under-7 championship, winning five out of six games. Now, he has just returned after playing the nationals in Chennai, where he was the youngest player to come in the top twenties, but not the youngest to participate. "There was another kid 24 days younger than Sparsh. But Sparsh performed much better," Bisht said.

After school – he goes to nursery – Sparsh is already in the habit of solving chess puzzles from Sergey Ivashchenko's Manual of Chess Combinations. Then he plays the game with grownups in his society, often beating them at it. And the weekends are reserved for proper training with a chess coach. "I'd like him to become the youngest rated player in the world. The current record is held by a kid from Bombay who was four years nine months old. Sparsh still has around eight months to go," Bisht said.

Source: Times of India, June 16, 2013


Topics Prodigy
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