The International Chess Federation ( FIDE ) had named the year 2022 as the year of Women’s Chess. A glittering awards ceremony was held in Chennai during the 44th World Chess Olympiad held in the state of Tamil Nadu in Southern India. It was held to recognize the strength of women chess players & related activities. The awards were made in 13 categories – best Players, best Performing Countries, best Educators, best Administrators, best Arbiters, best Organizers, best Trainers, best Politicians, best Media, best Photographers, best Disabled Performance, He for She ( Males who did best for Women’s Chess ) & the Outstanding Game Changers who have devoted for developing the sport. FIDE presented these awards for 04 different continents & Suneetha Wijesuriya was awarded as the best Game Changer in Asia. She was unable to be present in person to accept the prestigious award from Grand Master Vishvanathan Anand – the five times World Chess Champion from India. It was received by the Chess Federation of Sri Lanka officials who the Sri Lanka contingent participating at the Chess Olympiad.

Suneetha Wijesuriya commenced her chess career in 1979 & was Runner Up at the Inaugural Women’s National Chess Championship in the same year. She was the Sri Lanka National Chess Champion on 10 occasions from 1980 to 1997 & then she decided to to adjourn her active chess journey in 1998. Sunitha Wijesuriya won a Gold Medal at the 30th FIDE World Chess Olympiad 1992 which was held in Manila, Philippines. She became the first ever Women FIDE MASTER of Sri Lanka – the title granted to her for winning the Gold Medal. Exactly 30 years later, she was again in the news with the Outstanding Game Changer of Chess in Asia, Award.

After her retirement from competitive chess, the innovative Sunitha Wijesuriya commenced her journey of development of Chess with the assistance of the Russian Centre in Colombo. The Anatoly Karpov Chess Club was instrumental in organizing numerous islandwide chess promotional programmes, harnessing the experience & skills of the energetic lady. She was also the Secretary of the Chess Federation of Sri Lanka in the year 1994.

The Chess Federation of Sri Lanka organized / hosted the 16th Asian Schools Chess Championship 2022 & the Closing Ceremony was held at Temple Trees. The Prime Minister, Dinesh Gunawardene presented the lifetime award to FIDE Master Sunitha Wijesuriya on the invitation of the Chess Federation of Sri Lanka.

Report / Photos assisted by Bandula Withanage

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