“I realized I was doing something right when the Guinness Book of World Records called, or when TV stations came to my school.”[i]
Bhat made his final move, becoming the king of chess when he broke the USCF record in 1994 at just 10 ½ years. He became the “youngest national master in US history.”
“I think I had an aptitude for certain aspects of the game. Some stuff I knew how to do early on—the geometry of the board and certain patterns were immediately understandable to me. In the first year I played, it wasn’t like I was beating people left and right. I didn’t get bit by a magical spider or anything,” Bhat said.
Bhat is the son of Subru and Vijaya. When he was six years old, his mother introduced him (and his brother) to the game-she taught them how to play and took them to the Fremont Library on Fridays to “play chess with 15 other kids.”
“For my mom, chess was casual—she never played a tournament…” Bhat said. “Mostly I loved playing the game, and both my parents were happy to drive us around to develop that skill.”
At nine World Youth competitions, Bhat represented US with “top five finishes on five different occasions.”
“At the very top level, it’s not just a mental sport but a physical one. Top players are ultra competitive. There’s nobody who gets to the top just because they have a natural gift, though. At the very top echelons, it becomes harder to differentiate yourself unless you have some spark, unless you’re bringing something new to the board rather than just studying positions,” Bhat said.
He proved to be the ultimate when he earned the title of “International Master” just at age 16.
“I don’t give off anything for my opponents to feed off. If you’re expecting me to behave a certain way, well…I’m gonna be totally blank. I’ve been doing it for so long I’m not sure if this is me or the way I play now,” Bhat said.
Bhat attended Lynbrook High School. He went on to receive two Bachelor’s degrees in Political Economy and Statistics at the University of California, Berkeley from 2002-2006; he was the Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholar there.
During that time period, he interned at Compass Analytics (in 2005) and co-founded the East Bay Chess center where he “designed and maintained [the] business website” and “revitalized organized chess activity in the East Bay through tournaments, lectures, lessons and exhibitions.”
After graduation, Bhat started working at “economic and litigation” consulting firm, Cornerstone Research, as an analyst in September 2006.
After receiving the Samford Fellowship (which “[provides] financial support for talented American chess players under the age of 25”) in April 2008, Bhat quit his job a month later so he could “continue his studies in chess.”
“You interact with a lot of these players a lot, so you know what their normal behavioral pattern is. Usually the positions on the board are too complicated to know the outcome. You might have a sense, but it’s almost impossible to gauge immediately. So it’s useful to know what your opponent thinks,” Bhat said.
He served as a Senior Data Scientist and eventually became the Director of Analytics at Vinyl Interactive.
During that time period (from 2012-2013), Bhat attended Stanford University and received a “Graduate Certificate in Data Mining and Applications, Statistics.”
Currently he works at Shipt (he started as the Head of Data for Science & Engineering before becoming the VP of Data there).
Some of Bhat’s awards and recognitions are:
- State Scholastic Chess Championship (which took place at the Santa Clara Convention Center)-first place
- World Rapid Chess tournament in France-“tied for second place in his age bracket”
- A place in the Guinness Book of Records for being the “youngest player to earn the status of chess master in the US”
Some of the other tournaments he has competed in:
- 2002 Qingdao Open (China)
- 2006 Balaguer Open (Catalunya, Spain)
- Sort International (Spain)
- Benasque Open (Spain)
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Bhat, Vinay. “About.” There and Back Again, WordPress.com, vbhat.wordpress.com/about/.
Bhat, Vinay. “Vinay Bhat.” LinkedIn, LinkedIn.
Gardner, Christopher. “Metroactive Features.” Metroactive Features, Metro Publishing Inc., www.metroactive.com/papers/metro/04.23.98/slices-9816.html.
“IM Vinay Bhat.” Dallas Chess, www.dallaschess.com/USJ2002/Photos/.
Payam. “GM Vinay Bhat, Board 2 Playoff.” My Memorable Tournaments, 2 Apr. 2012, uyangabyambaa.blogspot.com/2012/04/san-francisco-mechanics-uscl-united.html.
Saint Louis Chess Club. “Vinay Bhatat Seen Here at the 2010 U.S. Chess Championship.” U.S. Chess Trust, The U.S. Chess Trust, 10ADAD, www.uschesstrust.org/is-it-worth-it-to-keep-playing-chess-if-you-find-it-stressful/.
Sanzgiri, Shona. “On the Red Couch with Chess Grandmaster Vinay Bhat.” Flipboard, 28 Jan. 2016, about.flipboard.com/inside-flipboard/on-the-red-couch-with-chess-grandmaster-vinay-bhat/.
Shahade, Jennifer. “Vinay Bhat Gets 3rd Norm in Spain.” US Chess Federation, United States Chess Federation, 31 July 2007, www.uschess.org/content/view/6625/358.