Mahabalipuram, July 31: Reigning world champion and the members of the Indian chess contingent remain hot favourites of the fans and media in the ongoing Chess Olympiad 2022 but they now have someone in competition in the tournament in an eight-year-old. Palestine's Randa Sedar became a darling of the media and fans alike at the venue as she is the youngest player in the competition, which sees participants from 185 countries.
Randa along with Taqwa Hamouri (1214 ratings), Sara Alhmouri (0 ratings) and Eman Sawan (1847 rating) are making their Chess Olympiad debut for Palestine and are excited to visit India for the biggest competition.
Randa Sedar who is ranked number two in the world in the Under-6 category secured her place on the national side after finishing second in the Palestine women's championships earlier this year. She has been the youngest participant in most of the tournaments that she's played.
She might be 8 and sitting on her knees to play the game but her opponents are having a tough time beating her. She won her first game in the tournament in 39 moves against her opponent Fahima Ali of Comoros.
Randa is accompanied by some elder members in the side but all of them are in their teenage. Emamn Sawan (15) is the U-14 Arab Chess champion. Sara Alhmouri (16) is another teenage girl on the side and this is her first tour of India. Taqwa Hamouri (1214 rating), Sara (0 ratings) and Eman (1847 rating) are making their Chess Olympiad debut for Palestine and are excited to visit India for the biggest competition.
Judit Polgar - the legendary Hungarian grandmaster and of the strongest female chess players of all time - also expressed her excitement over Randa's participation.
MyKhel caught up with this young Palestinian women's team and they spoke about Randa, the growth of chess in their country and the challenges they face in the country, which has been at constant war with Israel.
MyKhel: How long has she been playing Chess?
Team: She's been playing chess from the age of five and learnt it from her father. His elder brother also plays chess and is a FIDE Master.
What does Randa do when she's not playing?
Team: She loves drawing in her free time.
MK: What did she like here in India?
Team: Chicken tikka masala. She loves rice, she also loves burgers.
MK: She wants to meet Judith Polgar. What is she going to do when she gets to meet her?
Team: She says she'll dance and party.
MK: Who is her favourite cartoon character?
Team: Sponge Bob.
MK: How do you handle her?
Team: It's not so difficult but we feel responsible for her safety.
MK: Conditions in Palestine are not very favourable but you have got a chance to represent your nation. How do you feel?
Team: It is a matter of pride for us that we have got an opportunity to represent Palestine. We hope that we have more grandmasters and international masters in the future who play for Palestine. We also hope that we become a strong chess team in the future. We couldn't come to India directly. We travelled to Jordan and then Bahrain and finally to India.
MK: How has the progress of chess been back in Palestine?
Team: We don't have many tournaments back home. We have been practising on our own so far. We need more coaches to raise our game.