Chess Whiz Ashritha Eswaran Soars to the Top of USCF Rankings
By GIOVANNI ALBANESE Jr., India-West
Staff Reporter Jul 8, 2016
At just 15, Indian American high schooler Ashritha Eswaran has utilized her natural talents at chess to soar to the top of the United States Chess Federation rankings.
Eswaran, a sophomore at San Jose, Calif.-based Notre Dame High School, holds a USCF ranking of 2287, according to the federation’s June 2016 rankings.
The daughter of immigrant parents who came to the U.S. from Tiruchy, Tamil Nadu, in the mid-1990s, Eswaran has been playing chess since she was 7.
“I played at home with my parents,” she told India-West. “Once I started to play in competitive tournaments, I won a couple of national championships.”
By age 13, she was a national master, under the training of Bulgarian Grandmaster Dejan Bojkov at the NorCal House of Chess.
In June 2015, she won the U.S. Girls Junior Championship in Tulsa, Okla., which qualified her for the 2016 U.S. Women’s Championship. Also in 2015, she tied for the top mark at the Pan American Youth Chess Championship in the U-18 section, but was awarded third because of tiebreakers.
In February 2016, Eswaran finished third in the American Continental Women’s Championship in Lima, Peru. And in April, though she did not prove victorious in the U.S. Women’s Chess Championships in St. Louis, Mo., she said she was satisfied with her result.
The teen said that while she started slow, she picked up her play toward the end of the tournament, with her highlight coming in the seventh round in a match against the defending champion, which ended in a draw. Additionally, she beat her 11th round opponent, the leader of the tournament at the time, which changed the result of the entire tournament.
In her first appearance at the U.S. Women’s Chess Championships, Eswaran won the prize for “Best Game of the Tournament,” despite being the youngest person in the field.
Her play has constantly been on the rise, which is why she is on the “Young Stars – Team USA” program. Currently, she holds the title of Women’s International Master, the second highest title level, according to the World Chess Federation. She is hoping for even greater heights.
“I am trying one step at time, hoping I can get the Women’s Grand Master title in the next 12 months,” Eswaran, who one day hopes to go to college and study neuroscience, told India-West. “Eventually I want to get Grand Master title.”
Her parents have supported her along her chess journey, and hope she continues down that path.
“Ashritha’s hard work and dedication has taken her to this level. She became a role model for quite a few youngsters, specifically girls,” her father Eswaran Ramalingam told India-West. “We are hoping she can keep her focus in chess and continue to pursue her academic goals.”
According to the USChess.org national rankings, Eswaran ranks No. 12 nationally among age 15 girls and No. 13 nationally in the women’s category. Her sister, Aksithi, seems to be following in her footsteps, ranking No. 40 in the age 10 category with a rank of 1714.
Aksithi has won a couple of gold medals at the Pan American tournament in her age group and has played in world youth tournaments in Dubai, South Africa and Greece.
Ashritha Eswaran, who also likes swimming, Carnatic singing and art, initially chose to play chess for fun. Now, with all her successes, her family is hoping to promote chess in the community, creating a chess club in Santa Clara, Calif., as a way to get more kids involved and share their experience.
More information about the club can be found at www.Xcellchessclub.com