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Shiyam Thavandiran is putting his career as a data scientist with RBC on hold as he tries to win the coveted grandmaster title in chess.

“Life is short,” says the 29-year-old, who is currently one of Canada’s top international masters. “I realized having a full year to focus on it would be good.”

Born and raised in Toronto, Thavandiran had phenomenal success as a youth, placing fourth in the world under-10 championships alongside players who today are among the best in the world. He was also the youngest Canadian junior champion ever at the age of 12. He continued playing competitively even as he got his master’s degree in mathematics and experience in the artificial intelligence field.

Though he hasn’t played an over-the-board event in two years, he isn’t going to rush back into competition until he’s ready. He likes quoting Abraham Lincoln to describe how he is approaching his sabbatical.

“If you have six hours to cut down a tree, spend the first four sharpening the axe,” he says. For him, that includes extensive study of chess openings, as well as physical preparation.

As the pandemic eases in many parts of the world, he is hoping his first serious in-person tournament will happen soon.

Shiyam Thavandiran v Tatev Abrahamyan, St. Louis, 2019

The Globe and Mail

Black has just captured on d4 to re-establish material equality. What is White’s best move?

32.Qf6! Threatening mate if Black moves the Rook. … Rcd8 33.Ra4 Rd1+ 34.Kh2 Kf8 35.Rf4 and White won.