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Chess Phenomenon Combines Talent and Hard Work

Greenbriar West Elementary student places second in international chess tournament.

Aasa Dommalapati has won many chess tournaments. Her father, Anand, displays both of his children’s trophies in the basement.

Aasa Dommalapati has won many chess tournaments. Her father, Anand, displays both of his children’s trophies in the basement. Photo by Abigail Constantino/The Connection

Aasa Dommalapati, 10, of Centreville, a rising fifth grade student at Greenbriar West Elementary School in Fairfax, won the silver medal in the Girls Under 10 category at the 2014 Pan-American Youth Chess Festival held in Mexico. Dommalapati played nine rounds between July 10 - 17. Her friend Martha Samadashvili, of New York, took first place.

Dommalapati has a FIDE ranking of 1622. The number one ranked girls' player is Yifan Hou, of China, with a FIDE rating of 2629. FIDE - which stands for Federation Internationale des Echecs and also known as the World Chess Federation - acts as a governing authority for international chess competitions.

Dommalapati is preparing for the FIDE World Youth Chess Championship, which will be held in Durban, South Africa from Sept. 18 - 30.

Dommalapati is an attacker, which in chess means gathering one’s pieces and transferring them to the opponent’s king, pressuring the opponent’s pieces.

Her young chess career has taken her to many countries for competitions. She competed in Slovenia in 2012, Brazil in 2013, and this year, Mexico and South Africa.

She was inspired by her brother Abhinay, 15, who is also a player. But they don’t play together anymore. “They fight a lot. As soon as you get out the board they start fighting,” said their father.

She plays a lot on the Internet. She also develops strategy by studying the openings of other players, which are published in several websites, such as chess-db.com.

V. Kameswara Rao and Vijay Sarathy, from India, coach her online. Paul Swaney, of Arlington, is her local coach.

Swaney said that she is a combination of talent and hard work. He gives his players exercises and homework and Dommalapati solves them and writes everything out in her notebook. “She works extremely hard,” said Swaney.

The next step for Dommalapati is the FIDE World Youth Chess Championship in September but her ultimate goal is to be the best chess player in the world.