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British chess ‘phenomenon’ Bodhana Sivanandan, 8, named best female player at European championship | UK News

An eight-year-old British chess prodigy has been named best female player at a European championship after a stunning performance which saw her outrank several grandmasters.

Bodhana Sivanandan astonished the chess world at The European Blitz Chess Championship in Zagreb, Croatia this weekend.

The primary school pupil from Harrow was up against some of the best players in the world.

In her penultimate round, she defeated international master and England women’s coach Lorin D’Costa, who is more than 30 years her senior, before going on to take the first prize for women at the event.

Announcing the result, the European Chess Union said the “super-talented” eight-year-old had achieved an “astonishing result”.

Meanwhile, professional chess player Irina Bulmaga heralded her “unbelievable” performance, saying Miss Sivanandan had taken first prize “ahead of me a bunch of other experienced players”.

“What a phenomenon she is,” she posted on social media.

Miss Sivanandan is considered a star of British chess and is among the best in the world for her age group.

She was invited to Downing Street earlier this year where she showed off her skills to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak as he announced a £1m package to support children in disadvantaged areas to learn and play chess.

Pic: Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street
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Ms Sivanandan was invited to Downing Street earlier this year. Pic: Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street

Miss Sivanandan placed 73rd overall in this weekend’s event, ahead of several grandmasters and other established masters.

She scored 8.5/13 points to win the first prize for women.

A total of 555 players participated in the event, among them 48 grandmasters.

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Pic: Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street
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The eight-year-old is being celebrated for her ‘unbelievable’ performance. Pic: Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street

English international master and chess commentator, Lawrence Trent, said he had “no doubt” the eight-year-old will become England’s best player.

“Bodhana Sivanandan is one of the greatest talents I’ve witnessed in recent memory,” he wrote on social media.

“The maturity of her play, her sublime touch, it’s truly breathtaking. I have no doubt she will be England’s greatest player and most likely one of the greatest the game has ever seen.”

The English Chess Federation has also offered its congratulations.

“Well done Bodhana. A terrific performance,” the federation wrote on social media.

England win European Under-21 Championship with 1-0 victory over Spain | UK News

England have won the European Under-21 Championship for the first time since 1984 with a 1-0 victory over Spain in the final.

The win came thanks to a goal from Curtis Jones four minutes into first-half stoppage time, when Cole Palmer’s free kick was deflected off his back and into the net.

Spain’s Abel Ruiz thought he had equalised with a header from a free kick, but VAR ruled he was offside.

Five minutes into stoppage time, Spain were awarded a penalty after Levi Colwill tackled Ruiz inside the box – but keeper James Trafford became the hero when he saved Ruiz’s shot.

The England side did not concede a single goal at the tournament in Georgia.

Trafford revealed after the game that he predicted he would make a penalty save.

“I told everyone this morning I was going to save a pen,” he said. “When they got a penalty, I knew I was going to save it.”

More on England Football Team

England's goalkeeper James Trafford makes a save during the Euro 2023 U21 final. Pic: AP
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England’s goalkeeper James Trafford makes a save. Pic: AP

Tempers flared on and off the pitch Saturday night, with a total of 30 fouls, 11 yellow cards and four reds handed to players and coaches on the bench.

England coach Ashley Cole and his Spain counterpart were dismissed from the dugout in an eventful conclusion to the first half of the match.

FA chief executive Mark Bullingham shared his congratulations, saying completing the tournament without conceding a goal was “simply remarkable”.

“The manner in which this England squad has progressed through the tournament has been hugely impressive,” he said.

“Everybody connected with the group should feel a great sense of pride for the part they’ve played in leading this age group to the trophy for the first time since 1984.”

Ryan Reynolds revels in FA Cup magic as his non-league side Wrexham beat Championship Coventry City | UK News

Ryan Reynolds has been left “speechless” after Wrexham, the non-league team he co-owns with Rob McElhenney, dumped Coventry City out of the FA Cup.

The Welsh outfit beat the Sky Blues 4-3 at the CBS Arena in Coventry, with Sam Dalby, Elliot Lee, Thomas O’Connor and Paul Mullin all finding the back of the net during the game.

At one point, the visitors were 2-0 up against Coventry, who sit three leagues above them, causing Reynolds to write “What. The. F***. Is. Happening?” on Twitter.

Reynolds posted an update on Instagram. Pic: Instagram/VancityReynolds
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Reynolds posted an update on Instagram. Pic: Instagram/VancityReynolds

Read more:
Ryan Reynolds on Wrexham football club takeover with Rob McElhenney: ‘I wouldn’t dare call it soccer. I care about my well-being too much’
Wrexham owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney honoured for ‘promoting Wales and Welsh language to the world’

Wrexham then went 4-1 up, before the home team responded with two more goals – not enough to deny Reynolds’ team their first spot in the competition’s fourth round since 2000.

After the final whistle, the actor tweeted: “I’m completely and totally speechless. What a club. What a town. What a win. Wrexham AFC forever.”

The fourth round draw will take place on Sunday, and could see Wrexham face teams such as Leicester City, Reading, and Tottenham Hotspur.

Another surprise in the FA Cup this weekend was non-league Chesterfield drawing 3-3 with Championship West Brom, which means the pair will go to a replay.

Wrexham's Elliot Lee applauds the fans at the end of the Emirates FA Cup third round match against Coventry City
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Wrexham’s Elliot Lee applauds the fans at the end of the Emirates FA Cup third round match against Coventry City

Reynolds, best known for his roles in The Proposal and Deadpool, and McElhenney, who stars in the cult US sitcom It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, bought the Welsh club in February 2021, going on to make a documentary, Welcome To Wrexham, about the club.

In November, the pair welcomed King Charles to the club, as Wrexham celebrated its new city-status.

Ryan Reynolds and King Charles in conversation during the visit
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Ryan Reynolds and King Charles in conversation during his visit to the Welsh club

Reynolds and McElhenney are not the only Hollywood megastar owners of a British football club – Creed and Black Panther actor Michael B Jordan was announced last month as part-owner of Bournemouth AFC in Dorset.