Thinley Namgay  

Lhundrup Minjur Dorji, 13, from Thimphu Youth Friendly Integrated Service Centre (YFISC),  won the first National Youth Chess Championship 2022 yesterday at Le Meridien in Thimphu.

Lhundrup Minjur Dorji, a Class VIII student of Dr Tobgyal School won all five games.  He is one of the players from Bhutan who participated in the 44th Chess Olympiad in India in August.

Lhundrup Minjur Dorji, holding his winning trophy said: “I am glad to receive the award. This is very special and I will remember it for the rest of my life. My experience at the Chess Olympiad helped me. I started playing chess a few years back.”

Lhundrup Minjur Dorji  said his dream is to become the first chess grandmaster from Bhutan. “If I achieve that, I can be a reputed international chess player and make our country proud. I will work hard.”

Kinzang Norbu from Bajothang Youth Centre (YC)  and Sonam Choden from Phuentsholing YFISC came in second and third, respectively and were awarded a trophy each.

After playing five games, Kinzang Norbu, Sonam Choden and Kinga Zangpo from Mongar YC won four points each after winning four games each.  The trio had to play each other for another round of a three minutes game. All three won a game each. Organisers then held a lucky draw where two of them had to play a one-minute game and the winner had to face the one in bye place.  Kinzang Norbu was in a bye place.

Sonam Choden defeated Kinga Zangpo in a minute game. However, Sonam Choden lost to Kinzang Norbu in the last one-minute game.

Kinzang Norbu said he had an unusual journey in chess. After his left hand got injured during a football game his mother insisted on changing his choice of sport.

“At that time, my father got me a chess board and I started playing chess.  Since then, my parents encouraged me to play chess. Today, chess is a special game for me,” Kinzang Norbu said.

Sonam Choden, who is also one of the 44th Chess Olympiad participants from Bhutan, said Bhutanese youth have the potential to excel in chess given more training and competitions.

The championship was conducted to introduce professional chess in the YCs and YFISC in the country and also to enhance the creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and overall intelligence of the children.

All the participants are below 24 years of age.

The youngest participant, Sidanth Bhandari from Changjiji YC, who won three games said that support from parents is needed to take sports as a career.

“I started playing chess when I was four years old. My parents are supportive.”

Funded by UNICEF, the Bhutan Chess Federation (BCF)  in collaboration with the Department of Youth and Sports conducted the event.

The 26 participants, a girl and a boy from each YC  were the winners of the regional chess championships that were held in August.