Ikan Waleed, at just 15 years old, has become a pivotal figure in the history of the national men's chess team, making him the youngest athlete ever to secure a spot.
Reaching the top 5 of a total of 65 participants, Ikan secured a spot in the National Team. He aspires to reach newer heights in the field.
His journey began at the age of five when, self-taught through games, he discovered chess. Initially, it wasn't seen as a competitive pursuit, but after winning the champion title for Jamaluddin School at seven, Ikan's interest shifted towards chess as a sport.
The turning point came in the 2015 Asian Junior School Championships in Singapore, where Ikan, guided by the late chess legend Ahmed Fuad Taufeeq (Dhooni), participated in his first overseas tournament and defeated a foreign player.
Despite Ahmed Fuad Taufeeq's passing, his inspiration lingered, and Ikan continued to thrive. His recent achievements include being the youngest player on the national men's team in 2023, securing fourth place in the National Chess Championship, and contributing to Club Chess Mates' third-place finish in the National Club Chess Championship 2023 Team Event.
"Ahmed offered Ikan a lot of support even before he left abroad for medical treatment. It was after he left abroad that Ikan got selected to the National Team. Ikan is now filling the former position of Dhooni. He called Ikan and told him you're filling the last position I sat in in the National Team, and strongly encouraged him," Waleed, Ikan's father, said.
Hussain Shiyan, President of the Chess Association, played a vital role in Ikan's success, providing strategic training opportunities. Ikan's potential was further honed through a three-month program with a foreign chess grandmaster.
"Ikan is a kid with a very skillful future," notes Shiyan, highlighting Ikan's potential. The young prodigy, currently a Class IX student at Jamaluddin School, displayed his skills by defeating experienced player Ahmed Ashraf in the national tournament.
Looking forward, Ikan is gearing up for the Asian Youth Chess Championship in the United Arab Emirates, representing a promising future for Maldivian chess.