8-year-old Singapore boy of Indian origin beats 37-year-old chess grandmaster from Poland

Chess has been, for decades, a sport in which Indians have excelled. A new prodigy appears to be Ashwath Kaushik, an Indian-origin boy from Singapore, aged 8 years, who beat 37-year-old Grandmaster Jacek Stopa of Poland, setting a new record for being the youngest winner against a GM in classical chess.

Chess player Ashwath Kaushik
Indian-origin chess player Ashwath Kaushik represents Singapore in international tournaments. Photo courtesy: Instagram/ sunwaychessopen

Ashwath Kaushik was precisely 8 years, 6 months, and 11 days old, as per the information available, when he beat GM Jacek Stopa in their game in the Burgdorfer Stadthaus-Open, held on February 16-18, 2024, in Switzerland.

Reacting to the win, a chess journalist commented on X: “8-year-olds are now beating grandmasters, here’s Ashwath shattering the record as the youngest ever. At some point soon I think we will see 10-year-olds achieving the GM title.”

The previous record for the feat now achieved by Ashwath had been held by Serbian youngster Leonid Ivanovic, who was 8 years, 11 months, and 7 days old when he defeated 59-year-old Bulgarian GM Milko Popchev.

While Ashwath lost his next game to 22-year-old English player Harry Grieve, his achievement is still tremendous and bolsters all his wins over the past few years.

According to a report in the Singapore publication The Straits Times, Ashwath — born to Rohini Ramachandran and Sriram Kaushik — is an Indian citizen whose family moved to Singapore seven years ago, and the young chess player represents Singapore internationally.

“It’s a very exciting feeling and amazing to be able to beat my first grandmaster on the board and it’s in classical [chess], so I feel very proud of myself,” said Ashwath, as quoted by The Straits Times.

The Singapore paper, which interviewed the family, reported that Ashwath played chess for about 2 hours five days a week, and 6-7 hours daily on weekends; liked Lego blocks, jigsaw puzzles, cycling; and enjoyed outings to Singapore Zoo or Universal Studios Singapore. All this activity, he said, was relaxing and “[it] helps your brain get better and smarter, because in chess you need a lot of thinking to find the best moves”.