UAE: How 14-year old Emirati’s gambit turned her into chess prodigy

Roudha Al Serkal is now ranked second among national players in the women’s category

by

Ahmed Waqqas Alawlaqi

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Photos: Supplied
Photos: Supplied

Published: Sat 11 May 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Sat 11 May 2024, 8:54 PM

At just 14 years old, Roudha Al Serkal has already accomplished more in chess than many players could achieve in a lifetime. The Emirati prodigy's meteoric rise in the world of competitive chess has been nothing short of astounding, fuelled by her unwavering passion, relentless work ethic, and unconditional support from her family.

Roudha was four years old when she became interested in chess. She asked her mother for several weeks to let her join a local chess club. Little did they know that this simple request would lead her to achieve great things in the game.


From the moment she joined the club, Roudah’s talent was undeniable. Within just three months, she secured her first bronze medal at the UAE national championship, a remarkable feat for someone so young. This early success was just a glimpse of the triumphs that lay ahead.

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Successful moves

At the age of five, Roudha won the Asian Championship Under-6, which has earned her a status as a rising national star. As she grew older, her accomplishments only multiplied — she won the Under-20 UAE Championship at eight, the World Cadets Championship Under-8 in 2017, and the World Schools Under-9 in 2018, among numerous other titles.

Roudha's most recent accolades include victories at the Asian amateur women’s tournament, where she took home the bronze medal in the Asian Youth Under 14 category, and the Jeddah Open Tournament. She has also been crowned the World Champion in the Solving Puzzles Category C and the West Asian Champion.

The young Emirati attributes her success to having a strong support system led by her mother, who has played a pivotal role in her journey. She said: "My mom is my biggest supporter. She has attended all my tournaments for seven years straight, pushing me to train harder and improve myself constantly."

Pivotal roles

Roudha's mother is not alone in her unwavering belief in her daughter's potential. The coaches and Abu Dhabi Chess Club equally played a pivotal role, providing her with the best training opportunities and nurturing her love for the game.

Despite her incredible achievements on the chessboard, Roudha remains grounded and well-rounded. She enjoys a variety of hobbies, including drawing, piano, baking, and even writing mini-stories.

Balancing her academic pursuits with her chess commitments has become increasingly challenging as she grows older. Still, Roudha approaches this obstacle with the same determination that has propelled her to the top of the chess world. "It's all about time management," she said, emphasising the importance of catching up on schoolwork during tournaments and leaning on her family's support.

Roudha is now ranked 2nd among national players in the women’s category and aims to further improve her standing in the game.

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