The checkmate child is Keshav Beegala, 9, from Bothell
While other kids his age conquered “Candy Land”, he was busy capturing kings.
What’s up with this?
Keshav Arjun Beegala learned to play chess before entering kindergarten.
He has since said “checkmate” repeatedly to his father, who taught him, and to people 10 times his age.
Keshav, now 9, has won state titles for three consecutive years.
The Shelton View Elementary student recently finished top of the third grade in this year’s state virtual chess tournament, which was attended by about 175 contenders in his class. Last year he had one of three perfect scores in the sophomore division and the year before he had the only perfect score for first graders. He placed 12th in his age group at the 2019 national competition in Nashville, Tennessee, which did not take place this year due to COVID-19.
His trophies dominate the mantle of the Bothell family home.
âI want to have big upheavals,â Keshav said. âI did it in my last two tournaments.
This kid doesn’t sit and play chess all day. Maybe an hour a day, unless he’s in a 10 hour tournament.
Keshav aspires to be a grand chess master, but he wants to be a guitar hero first.
He’s off to a good start, according to last week’s performance in his living room, with Black Sabbath’s âIron Manâ.
With the same overwhelming concentration in chess, he strummed the chords on his father’s electric guitar.
After several years of piano lessons, Keshav began to learn guitar earlier this year when ordered to stay at home. He also does Metallica and Iron Maiden songs.
Her 6-year-old brother, Dhruv, started playing chess.
âI beat my dad 1,000 times because my dad is so bad at chess,â Dhruv said. “I couldn’t be champion because I’m still a kid.”
He waits until he is 7 years old to compete.
The two boys train together. Keshav plays online and has private coaching. He prefers games in person. Prior to the pandemic, Keshav performed at the Seattle Chess Club, Chess4Life, and the Pacific Northwest Chess Center.
âHe plays with children his age or 80 with the same intensity. He’s not afraid of age, âsaid his father, Amazon CFO Adi Beegala. âHe’s a sweet child. However, he fights hard in chess.
The father was pretty much on his own when he started playing as a child in India.
âI learned on my own,â said Adi Beegala. âMy sister gave me a board and I got a book to try to understand how the pieces move. It was baby steps.
He wanted to improve the game of his eldest son, who is now out of his league.
âWe are coaching all over the world,â said the father. “There are people in Cuba, in India and here, depending on what he needs to learn.”
Magnus Carlsen, 29, Norwegian world chess champion since 2013, also learned chess from his father at an early age.
âHe is a very funny and intelligent person. He’s very creative, âKeshav said.
He prefers the “offensive style” of Viswanathan Anand, a former world champion who in his youth was nicknamed the “Lightning Kid” in India.
âI like the tactics,â Keshav said. âI like to subdue the opponent and attack the opponent’s king. It’s funny. Even if I lose, you can analyze your game and learn from your mistakes.
He’s tough on himself when he makes mistakes.
“What I remember clearly is that I played a game, I won completely. I just had a checkmate move and then I ruined the whole game and lost.” Keshav said. “I felt like I was terrible at chess. I cried. I said negative things.
His parents help him bounce back.
âOften when he goes into the negative zone he comes out quickly after a few words of encouragement,â his father said. âThinking about the big picture, it’s just a point in the whole chess journey for him. Think of it as a small event.
How does daddy accept losing?
âI have been run over so many times,â he said. âTaking it from children is difficult. You must be strong.”
The 22 trophies and the six medals on the mantle are a sanctuary for Keshav’s success.
âI still remember the first day he received the little trophy and he was so full of joy,â said his mother, Microsoft program manager Hari Priya.
This was from a Keshav Kindergarten era chess club encounter.
âBehind every trophy are a lot of tears, tantrums and sleepless nights,â she said. âI constantly check in with him. I want to make sure he takes advantage of it and doesn’t do it out of pressure. I’m happy where he is today, but I also appreciate the hard work he does.
Keshav’s favorite trophy is not one of the brilliant 3-footers. This is a 2018 mid-size pawn trophy with a glass top.
âIt looks like a diamond and when you put it in the light it shines,â he said.
The word “checkmate” in chess comes from the Persian phrase “Shah Mat”, which means “the king is dead”.
The first chess game between space and Earth took place in June 1970 by the Be-9 crew. The match ended in a draw.
A computer designed for playing chess called Deep Thought became the first of its kind to beat an international master in 1988 in California.
Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson is an internationally renowned chess master. He won the Washington State Chess Championship twice, in 1984 and 1987, under the name Bobby Ferguson.