By Amanda Foust
Orchard Park Elementary School fifth-grader Abhinay Mundrigi was the only student from Indiana to walk away with a trophy at the 2016 U.S. Chess Federation’s National Elementary Chess Championship. He finished 23rd out of 452 participants at the May 6 to 8 competition.
From the time Mundrigi was seven years old, he played chess with his father.
“This is how I got started,” Mundrigi said. “I asked my dad to teach me, and he taught me some basics.”
Mundrigi moved to Carmel from Michigan a little more than a year ago. He competed in the Michigan Scholastic Club Championship for chess and placed second prior to heading to nationals.
“This win gave me the confidence to go to the national competition,” Mundrigi said.
The competition for students in kindergarten through fifth grade was held in Nashville, Tenn. Mundrigi qualified for the fifth grade U900 section. Each chess player competed in seven matches. Abhinay scored 5.5 (5 wins, 1 draw, 1 loss).
“I didn’t have any team to play with, so it was really hard when I first got there,” Mundrigi said, “but I got used to it and it got easier and easier until one point I felt very comfortable with it.”
Prasanna Neriyanuru, Mundrigi’s mother, was very proud of her son’s success. She said she knew he would be a great chess player because of his ability to analyze and solve problems. She stated the importance of playing chess in their home and that her family is her chess team.
“We don’t look at [chess]as an activity to do,” she said. “We look at it as a family tradition.”
Mundrigi has plans to continue perfecting his chess game.
“Pursuing Candidate Master—that’s his big dream,” Neriyanuru said