Shreyas Royal was born in Bengaluru in India and shifted to the UK at the age of three along with his parents and is a chess champion.

Family of Indian chess prodigy appeals to let him stay in UK
news Chess Tuesday, August 07, 2018 - 08:07

A nine-year-old chess prodigy from India, who is living in London, has been asked to leave the United Kingdom (UK) next month when his father's work visa expires. 

Shreyas Royal was born in Bengaluru in India and shifted to the UK at the age of three along with his parents and is a chess champion. But he has now been told he will be sent back to India when his father's work visa expires on September 10. Shreyas' father Jitendra Singh can renew the visa is if he manages to earn more than £120,000 a year, something he admits will not happen. 

The decision to ask Shreyas to leave the country has drawn a reaction from MPs in the UK who have asked the Home Office to intervene on behalf of the boy due to his 'exceptional talent'. In a letter to UK Home Secretary Sajid David, MP Rachel Reeves mentioned that, "Shreyas Royal is a chess prodigy. 9-years-old, he spends his spare time travelling around the country and the world to play in chess tournaments and regularly beats competitors a decade older than he is."

She pointed out that Shreyas was ranked the fourth best chess player in the world at his age. "He won a silver medal for England at the Under-8 European Championship. However, English chess stands to lose Shreyas' considerable talents in September when his father's visa eligibility is due to expire," reads the letter. 

"These visas are designed to allow people employed by large companies to live and work in the UK for defined periods of time. The UK should always encourage the world's brightest and most talented people to work and make their lives here. If Shreyas Royal is forced to leave the UK and return to India, the country will lose an exceptional talent," she further added. 

The MP's appeal was backed by fellow MP Matthew Pennycook, who represents Greenwich and Woolwich where Shreyas and his parents live. It also garnered support from actor John Cleese who took to Twitter to raise the issue. 

Shreyas' father Jitendra Singh confirmed that he received a letter from Sajid David asking him and his family to leave the country by September 10. The letter was sent in response to a previous appeal by the English Chess Federation in July highlighting Shreyas' achievements and arguing the need for him to stay in the UK. 

Jitendra said that he was surprised by the decision asking the family to leave. "A talent that developed in England is not being allowed to continue here," he said speaking to TNM over the phone. 

He further revealed that Shreyas began playing chess in London as part of his mother's efforts to involve him in extracurricular activities. "It was at the age of 5 that Shreyas was encouraged by his mother to involve himself in extra-curricular activities including horse riding, swimming and chess. We hoped that his concentration would improve with chess. He started playing club level and when he won gold at the London Classic in the Junior Category, we realized that he had the potential. He would like to continue playing for England," he said. 

Jitendra, who hails from Bokaro in Jharkhand state of India, relocated to Bengaluru in 2005 to work for Motorola. He later joined TCS in 2011 before leaving for London a year later.  "We hope to continue living here but if nothing will work out, I am planning to move to a European country as I don't want to stop his chess career. We are looking at the Netherlands and other Nordic countries depending on where I will get the new assignment at TCS," he said.  

He confirmed that his son is not considering returning to India since he wants to continue his chess career in Europe. He is hopeful that he will hear good news from the Home Secretary. "We have not received a response to the fresh campaign to allow Shreyas to continue playing in England and we are hopeful that he will be allowed to continue," he added.