Four rising Indonesian chess players worth looking at

In Indonesia, the recent enthusiasm in the game is apparent from the packed rooms where chess tournaments are held, such as in the 12th JAPFA Chess Festival 2022.

Radhiyya Indra

Radhiyya Indra

The Jakarta Post


Indonesia's hope: Mohamad Ervan (center) is pictured during the 2022 JAPFA Chess Festival as he competes against Philippine's Darwin Laylo on Monday. (JP/Radhiyya Indra) (JP/Radhiyya Indra)

September 13, 2022

JAKARTA – Indonesia has a number of talented chess players worthy of appreciation for raising the country’s standard in recent years.

Chess has a long history in Indonesia. The Indonesian Chess Association (Percasi) was founded in 1950, not long after the country’s independence. Since then, talented players from Utut Adianto to the late Herman Suradiradja have made their names in the international scene.

But there has been a recent spike of interest in the game, thanks in part to the 2020 Netflix hit series The Queen’s Gambit which caused a new chess mania across the globe, with sales of chess sets skyrocketing up to a thousand percent, NPR reported.

In Indonesia, the recent enthusiasm is apparent from the packed rooms where chess tournaments are held, such as in the 12th JAPFA Chess Festival 2022 at Gedung Serbaguna Senayan, Jakarta, which is currently ongoing.

To keep new chess enthusiasts up-to-date with the industry, here are four rising chess players we think you should know:

Azarya Jodi Setyaki

Born and raised in Bekasi, Jodi has been playing chess since he was four. At the age of 24, he is now a five-time junior winner of the Indonesian Chess Championship and has won two gold medals at the Indonesian National Games (PON).

“I fell in love with chess from looking at my mom playing it,” he told The Jakarta Post through text on Monday. Jodi’s mom, Lisa Karlina Lumongdong, was also a professional chess player, holding the Woman International Master (WIM) title.

“Hopefully, Indonesia will give rise to more chess grand masters,” Jodi said, himself an International Master (IM) now.

Chelsie Monica Ignesias Sihite

Chelsie is another gold medalist in the Indonesian chess world. She acquired the WIM title in 2011, at the age of 15. She has been known in the industry from a young age and even achieved her first international medal when she was 10 years old.

Chelsie is also a streamer on Twitch and YouTube with over 73,000 subscribers. Her games and analyses, sometimes with revered Indonesian Grandmaster (GM) Susanto Megaranto, have spread the interest in the game to a wider audience in Indonesia.

Mohamad Ervan

Ervan is an IM player who has made his name in recent years within the chess world. He is now representing Indonesia in the 12th JAPFA Chess Festival 2022 and competing against Philippine’s own GM, Darwin Laylo. “

Ervan has a higher-rating opponent now, so this is a really good opportunity for him to [show his talents].” Percasi representative Hendry Jamal told the Post on Monday.

Born in Probolinggo, Ervan is one of the only two players who represented the country in the 2021 World Chess Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, the other being Susanto Megaranto.

Medina Warda Aulia

As the youngest Woman Grandmaster (WGM) in Indonesia, a title she achieved at age 16, there is no denying Medina’s power and ability in chess.

“She’s a big young talent,” Hendry said, mentioning that even before she was 20 years old, Medina was ranked fourth in the world among junior chess players.

For someone who has received a sign of honor from the sixth Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and was invited to get special training with American-Hungarian chess GM Susan Polgar, Medina might not fit the “rising” category, but her young age proves that she still has many achievements to come.

The game goes on

Both games of the grand master boards on the second day of the 12th JAPFA Chess Festival 2022 on Sunday ended in a draw.

Despite being 100 ELO rating lower, Medina once again held the WGM Gong Qianyun to a draw, resulting in another half point each for the two.

Playing the Caro-Kann Defense, Medina dragged Qianyun to a 37-move game where nothing really happened as the two players decided to trade queens before move 20.

The second game between IM Mohammad Ervan and GM Darwin Laylo lasted half as long as the two agreed to a draw on move 15, which was a noteworthy accomplishment for the IM considering how he played Black and his opponent is a higher-rated player.

The Petrosian System of the Queen’s Indian Defense appeared on the men’s board and both players knew that it was a draw position early in the game, translating to half point each; Ervan leading with 1.5 and Laylo sits behind with half a point.

Additional reporting by Deni Ghifari

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