Chess champ Vineetha recalls her rise and exhorts kids to play | Sunday Observer

Chess champ Vineetha recalls her rise and exhorts kids to play

 Vineetha Wijesuriya
Vineetha Wijesuriya

Former Sri Lanka chess champion Vineetha Wijesuriya now turned coach celebrated her 40th year in chess recently in Melbourne, Australia where she is presently based and her continued ambition is to promote this sport at grass root level.

Vineetha was back in Sri Lanka and was very keen to look back at her life as a chess player and remarked that chess is an excellent mind builder.

“It is a very good sport for the mind and it runs in our family from our childhood,” said Vineetha.

Her elder sister Suneetha was the National champion on 10 occasions and her first coach as well.

Suneetha became the first Sri Lankan to win a chess Olympiad gold in Manila in 1992 and that achievement was always a big boost for the budding Vineetha.

“My two brothers Shelton and Lakshman were also chess players and I started to follow them from my childhood.” recalled Vineetha.

Lakshman is the present secretary of the Chess Federation as well as a Vice President of the Asian Chess Federation. Vineetha also recalled the opportunities she had to take part in chess tournaments from a young days while schooling at Gothatuwa Maha Vidyalaya.

“I finished first among the girls under-10 years in a tournament held by the Soviet Cultural House in 1980. I was placed third in an Open event the following year. This encouraged me to take part in more tournaments and win.

“I was placed fourth at the National women’s chess championship that gave me the opportunity to get a scholarship at Buddhist Ladies College. Later, I emerged national champion at the eleventh attempt.

“From 1983 to 1989 I was the best schools chess player. In 1988 I became the champion in the under-20 category and was selected to participate in the World Junior Tournament held in Australia,” recalled Vineetha.

She represented Sri Lanka in six Olympiads in 1992 Philippines, 1996 Armenia, 2000 Turkey, 2002 Slovenia, 2004 Spain and in 2008 Germany.

In 2000 she scored a 7-point on board 1 which is still a Sri Lankan record at this level according to Vineetha.

Though Vineetha is a practicing native doctor by profession she never gave up chess and was the winner of many awards locally and internationally.

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