Thursday, 19 July 2018

How Good is Samantha Edithso?


The 10 year old Indonesian chess prodigy Samantha Edithso is well known to Malaysians, having had the performance of her life at the Selangor Open Challengers in 2017.

I met Samantha for the first time (although I had seen her playing on several occasions over the years when visiting Indonesia) at the Asian Youth Chess Championships held in Chiang Mai, Thailand from 1-10 April 2018, where she won two Golds.

These were in Rapid and Blitz in her age-group. In Standard chess, Samantha moved up one category and interestingly was never in contention.

While at this event I had the opportunity to get up close and personal with this young talent thanks to my long friendship with Indonesian Head of Delegation Kristianus Liem who brought just three players but who were all serious medal contenders.


This deepened with the arrival of Indonesian chess patron Eka Wirya Putra who brought with him a journalist, and at their urging, I started having direct chess contact with Samantha.

What one immediately notices about this young girl is her absolute self-belief and the way she projects this confidence... and how articulate Samantha is in both her native Indonesian language as well as in English.

I do not for a moment mean arrogance but clearly Samantha is used to being the centre of attention and she handles it very easily and quite maturely.

Recently Kristianus Liem brought Samantha together with WIM Chelsie Monica Shite as her second to the World Cadets Rapid & Blitz Championships in Belarus and with everything going her way, it was mission accomplished, winning Gold and the title of World U-10 Girls Rapid Chess Champion.

How good then is Samantha? Obviously very talented and motivated and she has the backing of PERCASI (All Indonesian Chess Federation) and various sponsors. 

But we have seen so many young talents burn out or somehow, for some reason or another, never reach their early potential and while she should get all the support needed, the proofs are when 1) her Standard chess results become as good as her Rapid chess results, 2) she is ranked among the top with her peers, and 3) in four or five years time, she is able to successfully compete with the best junior girls in the world. 

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