Soundarya Pradhan is a nineteen year old 100% visually challenged chess player from Odisha. With a current rating of over 1800, he is one of India's top most blind chess player. He won the National Championship for the Blind at a young age of 12 and ever since then he hasn't stopped achieving more and more in the game. This year he is the only member of the Indian team at the World Blind Team Championship who is completely visually challenged. He will also be competing at the World Junior Chess Championship for the Blind in August,2018.
Although Soundarya has got no professional trainer, he has reached an amazing level, which many can't boast of. He trains just like a sighted player would, the only difference being the accessibility for some software, which he manages to get otherwise. He trains for hours on end and has competed at some of the biggest chess events for the blind. These include- winning a bronze at the Asian championship for the blind in 2017 and at the National Premier for the Blind in 2018- amongst others.
This young man has not only some remarkable chess achievements to his name but also outside of it. He has received the honor of addressing parliamentarians in a special event organised by UNICEF on the occasion of World Children's Day in November,2017. He dreams of becoming a physics professor and a world chess champion. He has reached a step closer to accomplishing the first feat by gaining admission into the National Institute of Technology(NIT) in Jamshedpur.
From what started as a game when he was just four has now become more than a passion. Soundarya has defied all odds and has accomplished great success in his life. Project Checkmate would like to wish him all the luck for his continued improvement in the near future.
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28/7/2018 0 Comments
The Indian contingent at the 8th IBCA World Team Chess Championships,2018 in Sofia, Bulgaria were undoubtedly the underdogs of the tournament. Being the bottom ranked team in the B-Group of the tournament, the 5 member squad along with their coach IM Sagar Shah had nothing much to lose in this tournament as the other teams were much stronger on paper. However, these men did not lose any hope and performed way better than most of their counterparts. The boys beat players much higher rated than themselves, with Kishan Gangolli and Aryan Joshi both top-scoring for the team with 4.5 each out of the seven rounds that they played in the group stage.
The Indian team finished third in the B-Group, missing out on the semi-final spot by a narrow margin with Poland and Ukraine securing the first and second position respectively. This finish itself was great for the team and they now head into the play-off for the fifth to eighth spots. They will play against the fourth-placed team in Group A- Venezuela. Russia and Germany qualified from Group A for the semi-finals. The top two teams from both the groups will now clash against each other for the semi-finals and finals (Poland, Ukraine, Russia, and Germany).
The Indian boys did exceedingly well and all credit goes to their hard work and dedication. A huge shout out to the 16 year old Aryan Joshi, who out-witted much higher rated players than him with ease. Soundharya Pradhan and Ashwin Makwana also supported the team with their efforts, while Subendhu Patra did well in the two games that he got to play.
Project Checkmate would like to congratulate the team for their wonderful results and we wish you the best for the remaining rounds and the near future. Go India!
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Kishan Gangolli is a 25 year old, 75% visually challenged chess champion. He has represented the country in a variety of strong tournaments and has won two Olympiad medals along with being the current Asian blind chess champion. His most remarkable achievement is of winning the Indian national championship for the Blind five times.
Kishan started competing at the age of 19, and finished sixth in his first World Juniors in 2011 in Greece. He represents the Karnataka State and has played as the captain for the State team in the National School Games and other team tournaments. He has also competed in strong rapid tournaments with sighted players and has won prizes in these events as well. With an ELO Rating of 1996(standard), 2042(rapid), and 2006(blitz), he is the highest rated visually challenged chess player in the country at the moment.
This young man has not only these remarkable chess achievements under his belt. He is a Master of Arts(MA) holder in Economics from the Kuvempu University in Karnataka, securing the second rank there. Recently, he was also appointed as the brand ambassador of Akshaykalpa , a milk product company based out of Bangalore,Karnataka.
Currently, Kishan is playing for the Indian team at the World Blind Team Championship at Sofia, Bulgaria. Project Checkmate wishes him the best for his career and would also like to thank him for sharing his tips to our students.
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Chess came across to Megha when she was staying in her hostel in Brihalla, near Kolkata,India. She was only six years old at that time. A few girls playing on a chessboard made her curious to know more about this brain game. It was this incident that has drawn her to chess and now she aspires to achieve more in the sport.
Currently studying in grade 9, the fifteen year old has had a solid rise in chess. She participated in her first National for the visually challenged, where she achieved the second position, in 2016. She followed this up by a superb performance at her second national, this time in Ahmadabad, Gujarat a couple of months later in 2016. In this event, she even achieved her FIDE Rating, a step closer to becoming a professional player in the sport.
Once this bright young lady achieved her rating, there was no one stopping her passion from exceeding further. She played in a couple of more tournaments and practiced mostly on her own using the computer. Her mother Ms. Bandana Chakraborty has helped her throughout her chess career, and she exclaims with pride that she will continue to support her daughter's career to the best of her potential. She even got in touch with Kolkata based trainer Mr. Durga Prasad Mahapatra to get support for improving her daughter's chess game for a while.
Megha's biggest achievement by far was to clinch the Open National Women Chess Championship for the Blind in Ahmadabad this July ahead of many strong contenders. She has, thus, been selected to play in the Indian Women's team for the upcoming Para Asian Games in Jakarta in October,2018. She trains daily for hours on end to make her country proud.
As Megha continues on her path to become a Grandmaster in chess, Project Checkmate wishes her the best for her journey. Her successes so far have been remarkable, and we can't wait to see what's next in store for this 'Wonder Woman' from West Bengal.
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Aryan Joshi is a sixteen year-old visually challenged player from Mumbai. He is the youngest member of the squad for the World Blind Team Chess Championships in Bulgaria,2018. Besides this, he has some remarkable achievements to his name. This young man has been an all-rounder right from the beginning. Apart from his chess career, which includes numerous laurels at the national and international level, Aryan has won medals at the state and national level Para Swimming. He has also scored an 87% in his SSC(grade 10) exams from the Maharashtra Board and has secured admission into the Poddar College, Mumbai. He balances chess, studies, and swimming by sticking to his daily planned routines.
When asked about his dreams and desires, Aryan says that he wants to become a 2600 ELO Rated Grandmaster in chess. While most visually challenged players aspire to become an International Master first, Aryan has set his aims high as he believes in this route of success. To achieve his ambitions, he participates in a variety of events all over the country and outside as well. He was supported by his coach Dronacharya Raghunandan Gokhale and the IIFL Wealth Management company to play in a couple of international events in the recent past.
He has started the World Teams with remarkable form , defeating two extremely challenging opponents in close to twenty moves each. As he now battles it out in the remaining seven matches and prepares for his next championship- the World Junior for the Blind in August this year-, Project Checkmate wishes him the best and hopes that he comes back home with many victories to his name.
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Can you share your first memory in chess?
I’m blessed to be born into a family with a chess culture. My uncle and coach Kesha Ranjan Pradhan is the former state champion and has represented Odisha in many national challengers. I was introduced to chess at a very tender age of 6. I was a naughty kid and liked to roam around breaking stuff and creating a mess in the house. At first, chess was taught to me as a measure of confining me into the 64 squares sitting in one place. Now, because of chess I’m exploring the limitless possibilities of life.
Why do you like the game so much and who is your inspiration?
It is a difficult question. I like chess because you can learn chess and never stop learning. I like it because it teaches you to discover the boundless options the life presents you with the limited resources. I like chess because it has so much in common with life. It is now an integral part of my life. 'Vishy Anand' and 'Capablanca' are my inspirations in chess. 'Dr. APJ Kalam' is someone I really admire.
How do you practice?
Of course, there are constraints in utilizing the technology to its full use, but yeah, I play online, analyze games using a computer, practice with my brother Soundarya, and read books with the help of my father or uncle.
What are your favourite memories in chess?
Chess has given me many great memories which I will cherish for the rest of my life. It’s difficult to single out. However, flying down to Montenegro for my first ever tournament abroad, and winning the Kolkata FIDE Blind Open would rank highest in the list.
What are your future goals?
Well, I’d like to complete Chartered Accountancy(CA) by 2021 and become an International Master(IM) in chess in the future.
What tournaments are you participating in next?
I’ll be taking part in the PARA Asian games in Jakarta in October. I’m not looking too far ahead.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Well, apart from studying and chess, I write poems and articles, sing and record music, play the keyboard, and spend time with my friends and family.
How do you think that Projects like 'Checkmate' can grow?
You’ve taken an wonderful initiative to reach out to blind chess players. This will immensely benefit the visually impaired chess fraternity in the country. With the inclusion of chess in events like the Para games, we need more and more players coming in everyday and Project Checkmate is going to play a great role in that.
Why do you think that it is important to play chess for the visually challenged? Can you share some advice for upcoming players and for sports players in general?
Not just for the visually challenged, chess is important for everyone. A recent study, as quoted by honorable PM 'Modi ji' in his 'Man Ki Baat speech', shows that students playing chess excel more in their education. Chess is important for the visually challenged people because it is the only game where a blind player can compete at par with a sighted person. It makes you stronger as a person and gives a new perspective on life.
I’d just say work hard and believe in yourself, but never be complacent. Never stop learning for there is so much more to learn.
Thank you Prachurya for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us. Project Checkmate wishes you the best for your future in chess and academics.
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Twins Deeptyajeet De and Yudhajeet De have a lot in common. However, their biggest successes have come from the 64-square board. These two remarkable boys have done their city and country proud through their various achievements in chess.
It was Yudhajeet who first picked up the game, and this inspired Deeptyajeet to follow suit. In Deeptyajeet's words, '' I played my first game against my brother, which I lost badly. This is my first memory of chess. The only person to have inspired me is my very own brother, who created a kind of ignition in me to play chess.''
Both of them have obtained their international FIDE Ratings and have participated in a variety of events all over the country. For Deeptyajeet, his most precious victory was that of him winning the National Open tournament for the visually challenged in Tamil Nadu. He says that his dream is to become an international master. He is trying to reach this ambition by practicing daily for over four hours, solving end games, playing online games, and studying the openings. He looks to participate in open tournaments in his state and outside, adding that he would like to participate in international events as well.
Since chess takes up most of this young man's time, Deeptyajeet says that he enjoys spending his free time with his friends and family. He adds that to improve at chess, the visually impaired must try to play as many matches with the normally sighted as possible. Besides, he concentrates on his philosophies of working hard and meditating in order to keep calm and succeed.
As their journey in this amazing game continues, Project Checkmate wishes them the best and hope that they achieve their dreams soon.
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July marks the time of this year's World Blind Team Chess Championship in Bulgaria. The Indian team will be headed by captain Kishan Gangolli, the country's highest rated visually challenged player. He will be accompanied by Aryan Joshi, Ashwin Makwana, Soundarya Pradhan, and Subhendu Patra on the other four boards.(the fifth being the reserve board)
This time around these five players have been selected through the National Blind A held earlier this year. IM Sagar Shah, co-founder and CEO of the media news company Chessbase India, has been the trainer of the team. He had held a week long training camp for the team members in Mumbai, just before they left for the championship. This intensive camp was preceded by a number of other training sessions conducted by the international master.
The Indian team looks in great form before the tournament and these participants have also gained some valuable exposure to strong Grandmaster tournaments prior to this event. In May,2018, they also got the opportunity to take part in the Kolkata GM Open and some of them even competed at the Bhubaneswar and Mumbai Mayors Cup tournaments. With such an intensive playing and practice schedule, it goes without saying that the team has a solid chance to perform well in the World Teams this year. Project Checkmate wishes them the best and hope that they come back with the gold!
Darpan Inani was all of three when he got the Steven Johnson Syndrome, leaving him 100% visually challenged. However, this young man has left no stone un-turned in his life. The 24 year old has won the bronze medal at the World Junior Chess Championship for the Blind in 2013, the National Blind Premier in 2010, the Gujarat state tournaments, and has also represented the country at four Olympiads for the blind, being the youngest ever to do so in the history of the country.
Besides his accomplishments in the chess world, Darpan has done the unthinkable. He had secured the 99.75 percentile in his grade 12 board exams and had been admitted into almost all the IIMs except Ahmedabad. He wants to become a chartered-account and India's first visually challenged international master. He has appeared for his CA Finals in May,2018 and has now taken a month long tour to Europe to compete at the strongest of tournaments in order to improve his game and get his performance to the next level to become an International Master(IM).
Darpan's tenacity is hard to defeat and it goes without saying that this man, who was also the face of the 2014 Documentary-film 'Algorithms' by 'Ian Mcdonald', is going to make some big waves in the vast oceans of chess, if he hasn't done that already. Project Checkmate is proud of his spirit, energy, enthusiasm, and work ethic. We wish him the very best for the future.
The Checkmate blog will be used to share stories, achievements, interviews, and more about the world of the disabled and visually challenged chess. It is aimed at improving the reach of the game amongst this sector and around the world. It will highlight the heroic accomplishments of the sports players and athletes, giving them a platform to showcase their potential to the world.
Interested in being covered on the blog? Send your story to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will get back to you shortly.