OTTAWA — In a shocking upset, a 12-year-old beat Russian-born chess superstar Alexei Shirov, who was in town to trade moves with 36 of the region’s top players — simultaneously.
Pranav Sharma — the youngest player in the room — beat Shirov in just 16 moves.
“I was playing my openings and I guess he blundered and I found the moves and won,” said Pranav, a Grade 7 student at Glashan Public School.
Some compared the once-in-a-lifetime mega-match against Shirov — known in the chess world as a Super Grandmaster — to playing shinny hockey with Wayne Gretzky or hitting the greens with Tiger Woods.
Dressed in a dark suit and sporting a blond faux-hawk, Shirov, 37, said little as he slid from table to table and faced players ranging in age from pre-teens to retirees.
He shook each opponent’s hand, autographed a book here and there — he’s written several and also has a line of chess DVDs — and made his move.
The games started just after 7 p.m. and were expected to last as late as midnight. For Shirov, who arrived from Riga, Latvia, at around 2:30 a.m. Thursday, that would feel more like 6 a.m.
Anyone who beat him was to get an autographed copy of his latest book — and major bragging rights.
Gordon Ritchie, a member of the R.A. Chess Club and Shirov’s host while he’s in the city, said his guest is known for his aggressive style in which matches can go from zero to 60 in the matter of a few plays.
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Congratulations Pranav! Nicely done!
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