A CHESS prodigy is dreaming of becoming a grandmaster after being named national under-11 champion.
Alex Golding, 8, was one game away from being named overall winner of Sunday’s Terafinal in Loughborough, a nationwide chess competition for people aged 18 and younger.
The youngster, of Woodfield Lane, Ashtead, had to settle for the under-11 title and £1,000 prize money, but tournament bosses said his performance was “the most amazing of the day”.
Mike Basman, former British chess champion and organiser of the Terafinal, said: “How he plays for such a young age is quite extraordinary.
“The tournament started in January and sees more than 60,000 children whittled down to 68 before Sunday’s final, and it was an achievement for him just to get there. But the thing about the final is that all the age groups are mixed together so you can get a five-year-old facing an 18-year-old.”
Despite his age, Alex managed to reach the grand final, losing out to 16-year-old Brandon Clarke.
Mr Basman added: “Chess isn’t about your age. On balance older kids will generally win but it comes down to patience and pure skill.
“Alex did something that hasn’t happened before. Someone of his age might fluke a couple of wins against older kids but he was using smart moves to constantly topple top teenagers.
“His giant-killings saw him do something that not even some grandmasters achieved. He wasn’t just beating much older kids, but brilliant players with much, much more experience.”
“I doubt what he has achieved will be bettered in the future. To be named under-11 champ at eight years old and to narrowly miss out on the whole thing is mind-boggling.”
Alex, a pupil at Downsend School, said: “I don’t really know why I like chess so much, I just really enjoy playing it and love the challenge.
“My dream is to get good enough to become a grandmaster and play chess for the rest of my life.”
Alex’s mother Christine said her son has been playing chess for three years, after joining the Ashtead Junior Chess Club at Peace Memorial Hall.
She added: “We are very proud of him and when we realised he had a natural talent we knew we had to support it. We know how to play chess but we are nowhere near Alex’s standard.”
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