Thinley Namgay

Bhutan failed to secure a medal at the inaugural World School Team Chess Championship held in Kazakhstan. However, team captain Lhundrup Minjur Dorji’s outstanding performance has brought pride for the country.

The ninth-grade student from Dr Tobgyel School achieved a fifth-place ranking among competitors from 43 countries. No other Bhutanese chess player has managed to enter the top five in this international tournament organised by FIDE, the International Chess Federation.

Out of the seven matches played, he emerged victorious in five and drew one. He defeated players from Egypt, Ghana, Zambia, Vietnam, and Mozambique while settling for a draw against Lesotho. His sole loss was against Venezuela.

The 14-year-old from Thimphu said, “I am delighted with my result. This is the best outcome I have achieved so far in my life. My goal is to bring a trophy for Bhutan in the future.” 

He attributed his success to his hard work and unwavering support from his parents.

Lhundrup ventured into chess in 2021 and swiftly became one of the most skilled players in the country. Within just under two years, he clinched titles in the under-18 and under-24 national chess championships, secured the third position at the national open chess championship, and represented the country in the 2023 Chess Olympiad in India.

Team Performance

Bhutan was represented by five students, including two girls, from Dr Tobgyal School at the World School Team Chess Championship, following their victory in the 2023 National Invitational School U-18 Team Chess Championship held in Thimphu in June.

Entering the championship as underdogs due to a lack of proper training and guidance, Bhutan’s team achieved an impressive 32nd position out of 43 participating countries in the U-18 category. This achievement is commendable when compared to the country’s previous performances in international tournaments.

Out of the 32 matches played, the team secured victories in 11, drew in four, and suffered losses in 17 matches. Bhutan triumphed over schools from Ghana, Vietnam, and Mozambique and managed to draw with Egypt. Each of the five players secured at least one victory.

The youngest team member, Jigme Younten Wangdi, 11, secured two wins. Tshering T Wangdi secured one victory and one draw.

Among the two girls, Dolkar Lhamo Norbu secured one victory, while Pema Yangsel Dorji managed to secure victories in two games. Pema is expected to earn her FIDE rating soon, which will make her the youngest FIDE-ranked female chess player from Bhutan.

Kelzang Daechong Dema, the team official, stated, “All the players performed admirably considering the absence of a pre-tournament training camp.”

The tournament serves as FIDE’s scholastic flagship, bringing together over 400 students from 54 countries. Its goal is to offer a platform for children with potential to showcase their skills on an international stage.

Team Bhutan is expected to return to the country today.