From the CEO

On 19th of June 2024, I made a special one day trip to Pune! Generally you don't want to be travelling 7 hours (going and coming back) when you are only going to spend a few hours there, but I can say these were the most exciting 12 hours I spent in recent times. I attended the Chess For Freedom conference organized by FIDE and Indian Oil. 

Since quite some years, I have always been saying chess is more than a sport. It is a social tool. And I have seen the impact of it first hand at the children's home (for kids who are separated from their parents) where we teach. However, the way in which this impact was created was way different from what my conventional understanding was. People say chess makes you more concentrated, improves your analytical abilities, decision making etc. and so when we began teaching at children's home, I thought, Oh! now the kinds will become more disciplined and concentrated! :) Far from it. It was difficult to make them sit in one place for the first 4-5 sessions. No one was interested to learn, everyone was hitting each other, shouting at each other and so on. And this is when we realized, the kids don't really need chess in their life. They need a medium where love and consistency can be offered to them. And this is how the program became successful. The kids would be excited to see us every Saturday. And we took care to make sure there were no directions given to them. Everything was dealt with great love and care. The children took up to chess immediately. Chess for them became a very pleasant experience.

Hence, when people say chess helps prisoners to respond and not react, I understand it logically. But no prisoner is going to take up the sport because of these benefits. Chess has to fill in something that is missing in their life. And when I went to the Yerwada Prison, I got to understand what exactly it was. Yerwada is a very famous jail in Pune, where Mahatma Gandhi also spent a year during the Indian freedom struggle. He signed a pact under a tree, which still exists, with Dr. Ambedkar. On 19th of June, was the first time that the prison premises were opened up to media in a way that has never happened before. The Additional Director General (ADG) of the prison Amitabh Gupta said, "Prisons should reform people." When someone leaves the prison premises after serving the period that they have to for the crime they did, they should become an asset to the society. And while most prisons don't really think about it, don't you think this is important?

This thinking was a huge shift in my mindset. Traditionally we have seen prisons as a place where people who have committed crimes are put in as punishment. While punishing someone for their crimes is logical, it is also extremely logical to think, how will a person interact with the society when he is released. This is where the transformation part comes in. And this is where Indian Oil is playing an important role with their program called Parivartan - transformation through sports in prisons. I met the prisoners in person and they told me how chess has helped them to ensure that their time passes by in the prison. It has helped them get rid of negative thoughts because a lot of their mental space has been occupied by chess!

The inauguration of the Parivartan - Prison to Pride scheme back in 2021. Photo: IOCL

But how did chess become so interesting and exciting for them? Well, here is the masterstroke played by FIDE. The organized the intercontinental championships for the prisoners. This was an online tournament which pit 4 players from one prison against 4 players from another prison. This competitive aspect of becoming the world champions was so exciting for those inside the prisons, that suddenly it felt as if their life had a meaning. The inmates would spend all of their free time either playing chess, or thinking about it. An exemplary job was done by Ketan Khaire, the coach and his team. I couldn't believe how strong the players had become. For eg. I saw Vijaypal Singh, one of the inmates, hold IM Eesha Karavade to a draw. And this he has managed to do by learning chess in just 2.5-3 years! Prison provides the perfect space to learn chess as the inmates have a lot of time and also no real distraction. So if someone really starts getting interested in the sport, they will surely improve rapidly.

Vijaypal Singh photographed by IM Sagar Shah. Check out his complete game against IM Eesha Karawade

I interviewed Satish Pawar, who served 10 years in prison and was just released in January 2024. When he was convicted, he was just 19 years old and was in second year of Engineering. 10 years is a lot of time. When you come outside the prison, you can often find yourself out of place or lacking a purpose in life. However, Satish told us that he found himself in good stead because he had chess by his side. His Lichess rating is 2200, and his aim is to become a GM. Coach Ketan Khaire is helping him to also find some employment as a chess trainer and he is looking for a sponsor so that he can pursue his dream of becoming a GM by playing tournaments! There was a confidence in his voice, which would not have been possible if it were not for chess.

Satish Pawar photographed by IM Sagar Shah.

As I travelled back to Mumbai at 10 p.m. I thought to myself how fruitful the day was. Chess is a sport I truly love and adore. It has changed my life in a beautiful way. And on that day I learnt how chess can change the lives of prisoners. I was amazed at the work done by different people to make this project a successful reality. GM Abhijit Kunte, MCA, AICF, Indian Oil, FIDE and the prison authorities. So many people had to coordinate with each other to make this possible. I am totally amazed! Chess continues to be something that has so many layers to it. It has so much to offer to our society. Every time I think of it, I feel lucky to have chess as my career path! - Sagar Shah


Arjun Erigaisi dominates 5th Stepan Avagyan Memorial with a 2823 performance

Arjun Erigaisi is playing phenomenally for a really long time. Despite winning 5th Stepan Avagyan Memorial 2024 with a round to spare, he did not want a quick draw. He kept fighting against Manuel Petrosyan (ARM). Tried to look for chances. While all other games got over much earlier, Arjun played on. The game only ended in a draw via perpetual check as there was no better choice left for the current World no.4. He scored an unbeaten 6.5/9, with a performance of 2823 and gained 7.2 Elo rating points, taking his live rating to 2778.1. The defending champion, Samuel Sevian (USA), M Amin Tabatabaei (IRI) and Bogdan-Daniel Deac (ROU) scored 5/9 each. They secured second, third and fourth place respectively. However, they shared the prize as per the tournament regulations. Photo: Chess Academy of Armenia

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Advanced Tactics and Calculations are of utmost importance when it comes to improving your chess. How do you calculate long variations and where do you stop? When can you rely on intuition, and what methods are there to choose from? Tactics are taught early and lead to serious improvement when you learn themes like Pin, Double Attack, Fork etc. as a beginner. However, after a certain level, it is not so straight forward to simply work on tactics and improve. That's the reason we have recorded the Master Advanced Tactics and Calculations like a Super Grandmaster with GM Vidit Gujrathi.

In this video course we use studies to present the different aspects of Advanced Tactics and Calculations. As Vidit navigates his way through the world of studies, you get to see a world class GM in action. When does he use brute force and calculation and when does he rely on his intuition - these are all the things that you get to learn from Vidit's video course. IM Sagar Shah sits along with Vidit and tries to break down the thinking of a Super GM in a way that it is easier for you to understand. If you decide to seriously work on the material presented here, you can be sure that you will become stronger at chess calculation!

Today, we have a big 10% discount on "Master advanced Tactics and Calculations like a super Grandmaster by Vidit Gujrathi"! Just use the coupon code "VIDITG10" to avail the discount. The offer expires on 29th June 2024 - hurry up and get it NOW!


India wins eight medals at 26th Asian Youth Chess Championships 2024 Classical

Narayani Umesh Marathe lost her final round game at 26th Asian Youth 2024. However, her compatriot, Nakshatra Gumudavelly crushed her opponent, Asena Golizadeh (IRI). That win ensured Narayani clinches Gold in Under-8 Girls and Nakshatra Bronze. Top seed of Under-8 Open, Sarbartho Mani scored an important win to secure Silver. Aaradhya Das won her game to secure Bronze in Under-10 Girls. Siddhanth Poonja shattered Aadik Theophane Lenin's Silver medal chances by winning the game. He got Bronze in Under-12 Open. Pratitee Bordoloi made a tough save to salvage a draw and earn Silver in Under-12 Girls. CM Velavaa Ragavesh scored in a must-win game to earn Bronze in Under-16 Open. IM Harsh Suresh spoiled the sole leader's golden chances to earn himself a Bronze in Under-18 Open. Blitz Round 1 starts tomorrow at 10 a.m. local time, 10:30 a.m. IST. Photos: Shahid Ahmed


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Nihal Sarin wins Cluj Grand Prix Rapid 2024

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4th Cairns Cup R7-8: Anna Muzychuk's win over Kosteniuk helps Zhongyi Tan extend her sole lead

GM Zhongyi Tan (CHN) extended her sole lead to 5.5/8 at 4th Cairns Cup 2024. GM Anna Muzychuk's (UKR) first and crucial win over GM Alexandra Kosteniuk (SUI) in the penultimate round, assisted Zhongyi to gain a full point gap. It means Zhongyi just needs a draw against Kosteniuk in the final round to become the champion. It goes without saying that the tournament is far from over as Kosteniuk has played seven decisive games out of eight. GM Harika Dronavalli survived a scare against Anna in the seventh round. She managed to salvage a half point by going for a perpetual check. In the penultimate round, Harika had a solid draw with the tournament leader, Zhongyi. Five women - GM Mariya Muzychuk (UKR), GM Nana Dzagnidze (GEO), Anna Muzychuk, Kosteniuk and Harika are at 4.5/8 each. Round 9 starts today at 1 p.m. local time, 11:30 p.m. IST. Photo: Saint Louis Chess Club/Lennart Ootes

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Shreyas Das wins 1st Khelo Chess India International Classical FIDE Rating tournament

Shreyas Das from Delhi has won the Khelo Chess India Classical International Rating Tournament organized by ChessBase India in Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh! A total of 174 players participated in this tournament, which was part of the FIDE 100 series being held this year to commemorate the 100th year of the World Chess Federation. The great thing is that the members of Hindi ChessBase India YouTube channel played a special role in organizing this tournament! This six-day tournament, which was started with the aim of organizing a world-class event at a low entry fee, was successful in its objective. Through this event, about 25 new players got their FIDE ratings, while 68 players played classical tournament for the first time and got FIDE ID. Revansh Vaidya of Bhopal secured second place, while Anil Kushwaha of Bhopal secured third place. On the last day of the tournament, a special event was organized under FIDE 100 in which Colombia's female international master Angela Franco and Bhopal's under 10 national champion Madhavendra Pratap Sharma gave a simultaneous exhibition against a total of 20 players. The presence of our CEO and founder IM Sagar Shah in the prize distribution ceremony increased the enthusiasm of all the players manifold!

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