Eight years young, Indian chess prodigy Vivaan Vijay Saraogi aims to become the next Viswanathan Anand. Just point five (.5) short of becoming ‘world champion’, Vivaan secured fifth position at the World Cadet Chess Championship last Sunday in China.

In Weifang city of Shandong Province, Vivaan lost to Lebedev Artem S. of Russia who became the Cadet World Champion (U-8). The international championship was organised by FIDE or the International Chess Federation with around 600 participants in different categories from more than 60 different countries including the USA, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Russia.

In the classical 90 minutes for 40 moves and then 30 minutes plus 30-second increment time control at the WCCC 2019, Vivaan scored 8 out of 10 points to play on “top” board against Lebedev Artem S.

He defeated many strong opponents from the USA, China, Vietnam and also his chessmates from India to secure the coveted position. He also beat Wang Bingnan of China and drew with Dau Khuong Duy of Vietnam in the penultimate round.

Not content at that, the young champ returns to India on Monday and heads to compete in the Western Asian Chess Championship to be held in Delhi next week.

“It is a long way to go for Vivaan. The journey has just begun and he will learn from his mistakes and become stronger. I am happy,” says Vivaan’s mother Suchita from Nagpur on the phone after the game, which they were following very closely on the internet.

“Vivaan just missed the world championship by .5 points and had he won, he would have become number one in the world,” she adds.

According to the International Chess Federation, there are around two lakh chess players of whom nearly half are active. Vivaan has a FIDE rating of 1498, which could turn at any game.

Born in Nagpur on March 16, 2011, to businessman Vijay Saraogi and homemaker Suchita, Vivaan got into chess by chance. On his fourth birthday, Vivaan’s aunt presented him a chess board. Curiosity got the better of him and after he got to know the basic moves, there was no looking back.

He picked up the game very quickly. “Once he got to know the power of the knight, he has not made a wrong move,” Suchita says gleefully.

Vivaan is a Commonwealth Silver Medallist and was gold medallist at the 20th ASEAN. But it is just not chess for the young boy, and he is good at his studies also. A student of Class 3 at Bhavan’s BP Vidya Mandir, Vivaan received the Academic Excellence Award, 2018-19 for outstanding academic performance.