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Chess at 8 vs. 79: Bridging Generations Through Chess

Chess at 8 vs. 79: Bridging Generations Through Chess

Chess at 8 vs. 79: Bridging Generations Through Chess

By Ana Moioli


If you follow the news from the chess world, you probably heard about the epic games between eight-year-old chess prodigy Bodhana Sivanandan and 79-year-old British champion Peter Lee. 


Just three years after she started learning chess at age five—two years older than Story Time Learning’s youngest students—Bodhana dazzled the chess community by beating the distinguished gentleman who became the British Champion back in 1965. 


But beyond the impressive results of the games, it was inspiring to see the two of them share their experiences with each other and connect over their love for the game. At Story Time Learning, we believe chess has immense power to bring people together regardless of age or background, so we were thrilled to see this event make headlines.

 

The Endearing Encounter

A few months ago, Chess.com orchestrated this legendary meeting between Bodhana Sivanandan, a schoolgirl from Harrow, and Peter Lee, a former winner of the British Chess Championship. The event took place at the Athenaeum Club in London and a video of their games went viral, earning the young player thousands of fans around the world.

 

In the video, interviewers asked both players several questions about their chess experiences and playing style. When asked about her typical day, Bodhana said that she spends about 5–6 hours a day practicing chess, both before and after she goes to school!

 

Bodhana's Chess Journey

Like many of Story Time Learning’s chess students and families, Bodhana started learning chess during lockdown in 2020. In just a few short years, she has attained the title of Woman Candidate Master (WCM), given to female players with 2000+ ratings. 

 

In October, 2023, she became England's first world youth champion in 25 years, and last December, she won the women’s prize in the European Blitz Chess Championship in Zagreb, Croatia, setting new records for chess history!

 

 

Bodhana hails from Harrow, London, born to a family of first-generation Indian immigrants. Her father told The Indian Express, “We had no plans to make her play chess. She just stumbled across a chessboard at home and started to play.”

 

In 2022, she said, “I love to play chess because it helps me to recognize patterns, focus my attention, and it is helping me to learn how to strategize and calculate moves in advance.” 

 

We love to see our young students develop skills that can be applied beyond the chessboard, not only strategic thinking, like Bodhana emphasized, but also sportsmanship and interpersonal skills, as exemplified by her encounter with Peter Lee!

 

 

Bridging Generations

Story Time Learning was founded on the transformative potential of games like chess and their ability to transcend age, fostering a sense of community and mutual learning. The recent face-off between the child prodigy and the seasoned champion exemplifies the bridge that chess provides between generations.

 

Our approach extends beyond moves on the board, emphasizing lessons of sharing knowledge, sportsmanship, and the joy of learning. We often see students bond over their love for the game with their parents and grandparents, as the game is equally fascinating for kids, grown-ups, and seniors!

 

Our Story-Driven Approach

This perspective of the game as a medium for human connection is incorporated into the stories from our curriculum. Story Time Learning transforms the chess pieces into quirky characters who live in the imaginary world of Chesslandia, where everyone—no matter their background, gender, size, age, and even species—loves to play chess. 

 

A great example is our story series “Chess is a Sea,” in which Queen Bella travels to the Endless Sea and teaches chess as a way to make new friends. She teaches it to several different sea creatures, and tasks them with teaching someone else how to play, creating a chain of learning that welcomes everyone into the chess community—seahorses, octopuses, whales, and even a sea monster!

 

The title comes from an old Indian proverb: "Chess is a sea, where a mosquito can bathe and an elephant can drown." In other words, chess allows both beginners to have fun and grandmasters to be challenged, offering a true “Endless Sea” of possibilities!

 

Chess at…Every age! 

Bodhana Sivanandan and Peter Lee may have been born six generations apart, but their passion for chess is the same. How many games out there can speak to the hearts of such a wide age range?

 

It is undeniable that the love for chess knows no age limit—it is a timeless pursuit that continues to inspire and connect generations. 

 

In the vast sea of possibilities that chess represents, everyone from beginners to grandmasters can find joy and challenge, making it a game for every age.