Students at the Inter-School Team Chess Championship at Modern High School for Girls on Sunday. Picture by Bishwarup Dutta
Knights and bishops are leading students down the path to better marks as city schools line up to do a Narendra Modi.
Acquainting the students with the chess pieces are professional coaches, who have now found a place in school staff rooms.
The authorities’ aim behind employing chess coaches: introduce youngsters to the brain game and improve their academic proficiency into the bargain.
The renewed interest of students in chess and how their game has improved under the tutelage of professionals were in evidence at the Inter-School Team Chess Championship, in association with TTIS and powered by The Telegraph, organised by Future Hope School on Sunday.
While DPS Ruby Park won the tournament with 15.5 points, three schools, including the “A” team of the hosts, were tied at 13.5 points for the second place. Lakshmipat Singhania Academy was eventually declared runner-up on the basis of the BH points its team had garnered by virtue of taking on tougher opponents.
Four of the participating schools — Lakshmipat Singhania Academy, Ashoka Hall, GD Birla Centre for Education and Mahadevi Birla Sishu Vihar — have made chess a part of the curriculum and the results have been impressive.
“As a rule, the performance of students in mathematics and physics improves after they take up chess. Their concentration also improves and they become more responsible,” Bipin Shenoy, who coaches six schools including the hosts, said on the sidelines of the tournament.
Dolon Chanpa Bose, who teaches chess at GD Birla, said she had seen the mathematics skills and “memorising capacity” of students improve after they start playing the game.
Citing the example of Gujarat, she commented that all school students should be introduced to the game to unleash their true academic potential.
“Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi had visited Baku in Azerbaijan, the birthplace of chess living legend Garry Kasparov, two years ago and found the game had been made a mandatory part of the school curriculum. He also observed that the kids in Baku were considerably more intelligent than kids from other areas he met on the tour,” said Bose.
“Right after coming back to India, Modi made chess compulsory in all schools in Gujarat. That has done wonders for the game and helped students improve their studies,” she added.
At the Calcutta tournament, DPS Ruby Park, where chess is not on the curriculum, came up trumps after being tied with three other schools on eight points after three of the five rounds.
“We picked up our game in the last two rounds to get 7.5 points,” said Soumyodeep Chaudhuri, the captain of the DPS Ruby Park team.
Don Bosco, the third team that was tied for the second place after five rounds, rode the shoulders of Aubhropratim Manna, the skipper and the best rated player in the tournament, and Aritra Chowdhury. The two won all their matches, bagging 10 points between them.
“Because I was too restless, my parents had introduced me to chess, thinking the game would calm me down. I am glad they did. I started doing better in studies because of chess. Today, however, my parents are not glad that I am spending the entire day at the tournament since my board examinations are coming up next year,” said Aubhropratim, who thinks Viswanathan Anand’s feat of becoming world champion in three formats of chess will not be matched this century.
Good players leaving chess is a problem that has dogged the chess fraternity in the city for years now.
The coaches feel the solution lies in drawing more children to the game.
Chess buffs in the city can take heart. Aubhropratim’s hero Anand has promised to ask Mamata Banerjee to follow Modi’s footsteps when he meets her next.