Singapore gets its 5th GM as Indian-origin teen Siddharth Jagadeesh wins in Sharjah Masters

Singapore new GM Siddharth Jagadeesh
Singapore has a new Grandmaster in 17-year-old Siddharth Jagadeesh. Photo courtesy: Instagram/chessbaseindia (photo by Aditya Sur Roy)

Singapore has a new chess Grandmaster in Indian-origin teenager Siddharth Jagadeesh. The 17-year-old became the 5th Grandmaster of Singapore following a win at the Sharjah Masters 2024 tournament.

The Instagram page of ChessBase India announced yesterday that Siddharth Jagadeesh “scored his final GM norm in the 8th round of the Sharjah Masters 2024 by beating Andrey Esipenko. Earlier in the year he had already crossed 2500 Elo.” Elo is a rating system in the game of chess.

The Singapore Chess Federation also put out an Instagram post, congratulating Siddharth Jagadeesh as “Singapore’s youngest ever Chess Grandmaster”.

“With Tin Jingyao, who is born in 2007, already reaching 2570, and now Siddharth making his GM title, Singapore chess is on the rise,” said the post by ChessBase India.

Chess champion Siddharth Jagadeesh with his family
Newly minted Grandmaster Siddharth Jagadeesh with his family. His father Jagadeesh Balakrishnan earlier sponsored a chess scholarship to support the game. Photo courtesy: Instagram/chessbaseindia (photo by Aditya Sur Roy)

Publishing some photos of the newly minted Indian-origin Singapore-based Grandmaster with his family, the Instagram post said: “We have a personal story with Siddharth and his family. In 2018, Siddharth’s father Jagadeesh Balakrishnan decided to contribute Rs 50,000 and institute the first ever scholarship. This inspired the formation of ChessBase India Foundation.

“In the last year, ChessBase India Foundation (now called HelpChess) managed to raise Rs 54 lakh for Indian chess. This would have never happened without the kindness of Jagadeesh.”

ChessBase India added: “We congratulate Siddharth and his entire family on this wonderful performance! Onwards to 2600 now!”

Reporting from Singapore, the news daily The Straits Times gave the new GM’s reaction: “[Siddharth] said via ChessBase India: ‘I’m feeling very happy and very relieved, because for the past couple of years I had to always think about norms and rating averages, but now I can just play chess.’”

Siddharth also said: “I wasn’t sure how Esipenko would play. I needed to make one point in two games, so I wasn’t sure whether I should play for a win or play safe.”

ST reported: “Calling the win against Esipenko his ‘best game ever’, Siddharth added: ‘Normally I don’t play such exciting games. I had lost the day before in a very unpleasant game (and was) completely outplayed by Abhimanyu Mishra.’”

While Siddharth has fulfilled all the GM criteria, his achievement is pending ratification by the International Chess Federation (FIDE).

Siddharth Jagadeesh has always worn the Singapore colours during his chess career
Siddharth Jagadeesh has always worn the Singapore colours during his chess career. Photo courtesy: Instagram/chessbaseindia (photo by Aditya Sur Roy)

New Indian-origin GM moved to Singapore by the age of 5

A ChessBase India report on Round 8 of Sharjah Masters 2024 said: “Siddharth Jagadeesh started playing chess at the age of eight years. He moved to Singapore when he was four or five years old. The teenager has always represented Singapore and his chess playing days have always been there.

“[His] first GM-norm was scored at Vezerkepzo September GM in Budapest, Hungary, in 2023. A little over 4.5 months later, he scored his second GM-norm – L R Global Grandmaster Aspirant 1 Chess Tournament in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in February 2024.

“Three months later, he got a published rating of 2508, and on Tuesday 21st May, he earned his final GM-norm, making him the latest Grandmaster of Singapore.”