It was in September 2016 when a pizza outlet located in Sector 19 was having practice sessions of Chess on Sunday morning, around 20 kids from the U-14 age group could be seen engrossed in their practice matches which happened between 9 am to noon. These sessions continued for about two months. In May, 2017 the first open Chess tournament was organised at the Chandigarh club which saw participation by 45 players.
This was the start of the Chandigarh Parents’ Chess Association (CPCA), a journey of five city parents to provide more opportunities for players to have frequent tournaments, training, and counselling sessions.
Gaurav Bansal, Parveen Goel, Parminder Chaudhary, Ashish Kushwaha and Vikas Goel are the five behind the association.
“My daughter Precious plays chess. In fact all five of us connected through the game as all our children play chess. It was a routine for us to provide them chess coaching apart from personal guidance from our side. In 2016, my daughter became the state champion from Chandigarh in the U-7 girls category and so was Vikas Goel’s son, Amey Goel, in boys category. As they qualified for nationals, we took them to Puducherry where for the National Championship. However, it was an eye opener for us as where we stood. Our kids gave a tough fight, but were no match in front of players from the Southern region. This is how we started making efforts to bring children under one platform to play tournaments and have as much exposure as people in South India do. Chess is played in every nook and corner in the region, and that was not the case in Chandigarh”, said Gaurav Bansal, an IT marketing consultant while talking with The Indian Express.
Parminder Chaudhary, whose son Shaunak also plays chess, said, “We started with practice sessions from a pizza outlet, which couldn’t work well. But finally we succeeded in a tournament in May 2017. Everything happened through word of mouth. Our aim was to provide players more exposure and make chess more visible in the city.”
So far the association has organised 18 tournaments. These tournaments initially saw participation by players from Chandigarh only but now, players from Punjab, Haryana, UP, and HP also take part. The number of participants ranges from 60 to 120. They charge Rs 200-Rs 600 from the participants. A few months ago, a member of the association also organised chess sessions in public parks of Panchkula to make this game more visible.
“My son’s rating was around 1200 when we began the journey with this association. Initially they played enough dummy sessions amongst themselves before playing an actual tournament. Now he is a 1900 plus rated player and I owe the regular tournaments as the base for his improvement as top players of the state are now coming to play in these tournaments, giving children enough exposure”, said Parveen Goel.
Chess coach Mohd Ibrahim from Erode, Tamil Nadu settled in Chandigarh, two years ago, after being invited for camp in the city.
“Over 15 players have attained a rating while a few have gained upto 500 points due to such practice matches. They used to be called practice matches in the beginning where the top 10-15 junior players used to be awarded. The idea was to keep them motivated, as a medal means a lot for children. However, now the top 3 or top 5 are adjudged”, added Gaurav. Winners now get cash prizes, medals and trophies.
The association organises open tournaments in which players from any age group can take part and category prizes for U-7, U-11, U-13, U-15 players are given, to make them compete with tough players.
“We have planned second and last weekend now for open and category tournaments and in the future. We are now looking for a sponsor to organise a rated tournament in Chandigarh as our players have to go out for playing rated tournaments”, said Bansal. The association works as a team, while the fathers manage the organisational part, the mothers manage the accounts, help in writing down results and making the certificates. The children themselves love setting up tables before the tournaments and pack up the chess sets.