The sole competitor from the Jaffna peninsula, a lad with an engaging smile and a pleasant disposition was found to be the easiest to make friends with, at the Junior Chess Nationals conducted last weekend at the Sanhida Reception Hall, Delkanda, Nugegoda.
Sivananthan Sivathanujan of Kokavil Hindu College, with 1,669 rating points, won Silver and was ranked No.2 in the Boys’ Under-20 category.
He didn’t feel he was hundreds of kilometres away from home, as the other competitors, both boys and girls, treated him as a brother.
He really enjoyed his stay in Colombo and will return to Jaffna with lovely memories.
This proves that Sports is a great healer that breaks barriers.
Sivathanujan said that, to be competitive at Chess, one has to devote a lot of time, which means that devoting time for his studies is quite a balancing act.
When asked about the standard of Chess in the peninsula, the tall young lad said that only a few schools such as St. John’s, Hartley College, Jaffna Hindu College and his school Kokavil Hindu are involved in the game, and take part in local tournaments.
He is quite concerned that no rated tournaments, on par with the Nationals, are conducted in Jaffna.
Playing the game with tminimal facilities, Sivathanujan said, if proper guidance is given, he is certain that more students from Jaffna schools that play Chess, will come to the limelight in a short time.
Having won Silver at the Nationals, he hopes to participate at the Mumbai Open Chess Championship in India.
He paid tribute to his coach Viththiyarani for guiding him and encouraging him to be a Chess player of repute from Jaffna and, hopefully, bring glory to Sri Lanka.
He added that his school authorities lend their support and encouragement for Chess, and are always ready to help him with the limited resources available.
Though he couldn’t win the championship, Sivathanujan was happy to lock horns with the National champion who won Gold, as he learned much from him.
He said it is a privilege to participate in tournaments such as the Junior Nationals, make friends and learn, which helps him improve his concentration and play.
In conclusion the lad from Jaffna said that the advice and encouragement his family gave, also played a major part in his success.
When looking back at the distance he had come thus far, this courageous lad said there is a bigger distance to cover to become a top rated Chess player.
His lifetime ambition in Chess is to become a FIDE Master and an International Master.
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