Sri Lanka’s Future Sports Stars: 14-year-old Susal pride of Nalanda
L.M. Susal Thewjan de Silva from Nalanda College, Colombo won the Bronze medal at the Sri Lanka National Chess Championship 2020 held recently at Hotel Taj Samudra, Colombo. He is the youngest member of the National Chess Team, as well as the youngest Fide Master (FM).
From grade 1 to 5 Susal was at D.S. Senanayaka Model Primary School Anuradhapura, and after he passed the Grade 5 Scholarship exam he joined Nalanda.
He received a small chess board as a present on his 6th birthday in 2012, and Susal was impressed with it. Unfortunately, he didn›t know how to play the game but his father knew a little and played with his son.
Due to his passion for the game the father looked around for somebody to coach his son and met with success a few months later when they stumbled upon Milinda Rathnayaka, and Susal started to receive proper coaching. The next year he won the Schools Individual Chess Championship (Anuradhapura), but was not successful at the All Island Tournament. Then in 2013 he won the selection trials for the Youth Chess Championship, but again he couldn›t reach even the first fifty at the All Island Tournament.
Akila Kavinda, who represented the Sri Lankan National Chess Team several times, took Susal under his wing and trained him. Akila was a student at Colombo University then, but he promised to conduct lessons on weekends in Kurunegala. So, this 8-year-old lad traveled every weekend to Kurunegala from Anuradhapura to learn chess from Akila Kavinda.
In 2014 he was the Champion from the Anuradhapura District and won the Bronze medal at the All Island Youth Chess Championship (under-8) and was selected to play in the world tournament in South Africa and the Asian tournament in Uzbekistan.
From 2014 he trained under Akila Kavinda. «Without the support of Akila Sir, I wouldn›t be where I am today. Sir sacrificed a lot and worked hard to lift me up. And Milinda Sir is the one who encouraged me initially. I love chess very much, that is my passion. I want to be a Grand Master one day. I am working towards it. Because of the COVID pandemic I couldn’t participate in foreign tournaments and couldn›t achieve my goals. I watch cricket matches during my leisure time and play table tennis with my brother. My father supports me financially, and mother helps me both in my studies and chess. My brother is my biggest fan.”
Susal was the under-12 Western Asian Chess Championship 2017 champion and was conferred the Fide Master (FM) title when he was 11. He was the youngest FM in Sri Lanka in 2017. Susal was selected to represent the National Chess Team in 2019 when he was 13-years-old, and is the youngest player selected to the National team in Sri Lankan Chess History. He emerged Champion at the National Rapid Chess Championship in 2020 and was Champion at the 7th Sri Lanka Chess Grand Prix in 2020. He was the 2nd runner-up at the Sri Lanka National Chess Championship in 2020 (Youngest member in the National team). He has toured South Africa, Uzbekistan, Thailand, Singapore and India.
He thanks everyone who supported him in his career - current Principal of Nalanda College Thilak Watthuhewa, Chess Teacher-in-Charge Sakunthala Sandamalee, Milinda Rathnayake his first Chess coach in Anuradhapura, Akila Kavinda, Gayan Peris, Chess coach of Nalanda College, OBA of Nalanda College, all the teachers and staff members, students, team mates and their parents and his parents.
Susal would like to thank Luxman Wijesuriya for his guidance, organising tournaments and providing all the necessary facilities to play chess in a good environment.
* Under-8 Bronze medal at Youth Chess Championship 2014
* Participated in the World Youth Chess Championship (u-8) in South Africa in 2014
* Under-9 Champion at Schools Chess Individual Chess Championship in 2016
* Participated in the World Schools Chess Championship 2015 (u-9) in Thailand
* Participated in the Asian Schools Chess Championship 2015 (u-9) in Singapore
* Under-10 - Bronze medal at Youth Chess Championship 2016
* Under-10 - Bronze medal at Youth Chess Championship 2017
* Under-12 Champion at Youth Chess Championship 2018
* Under-13 Champion at Schools Chess Individual Chess Championship 2018
* Participated in the World Youth Chess Championship 2019 (u-12) in India
* Participated in the World Junior Chess Championship 2019 in India
* Under-12 Champion Youth Chess Championship 2019
* Champion at Western Asian Chess Championship 2017 (under-12) and conferred Fide Master (FM) title at age 11 (youngest FM in Sri Lanka)
* Champion at Buddhi International Chess Championship 2018
* Selected to National Chess Team of Sri Lanka (5th place) 2019 (He was 13-years and youngest player to be selected to the National team in Sri Lankan Chess History)
* Champion at Ethugalpura International Chess Championship 2019
* Champion at Colombo International Chess Championship 2020
* Champion at National Rapid Chess Championship 2020
* Champion at 7th Sri Lanka Chess Grand prix 2020
*2nd runner-up at Sri Lanka National Chess Championship 2020
(Youngest member in the National team)