Monday, 30th October 2017

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Dearth of GMs and search for solutions

Not enough attention is being paid to the dearth of Grandmasters and quality chess players in Bengal

By Sayak Banerjee in Calcutta
  • Published 5.09.19, 3:29 AM
  • Updated 5.09.19, 3:29 AM
  • 2 mins read
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Surya Shekhar Ganguly is the only player from Bengal among the 10 Indians participating in the World Cup that starts September 9 File picture

Chess in Bengal is in the news now, but only for the wrong reasons, thanks to the mudslinging in the Bengal Chess Association that required mediation from the All India Chess Federation.

But not enough attention is being paid to the dearth of Grandmasters and quality chess players in Bengal.

There was a time when Bengal produced a fair amount of Grandmasters on a consistent basis, with the likes of Surya Shekhar Ganguly, Deep Sengupta and Sandipan Chanda making headlines. Of course, the state has had players getting the GM norm thereafter with Saptarshi Roy being the last to achieve, in 2018. But is the current generation consistent enough?

Surya, preparing for the upcoming Fide World Cup to be held in Khanty-Mansiysk, stressed the need for proper coaching at the primary level. Surya is the only player from Bengal among the 10 Indians participating in the World Cup that starts September 9.

“There’s no dearth of talent in our state, but if we compare the current situation to that of Tamil Nadu and maybe some other states, we’ll only see that we are far behind.

“Look, you can’t judge the scenario here on the basis of the performances of Sandipan, Deep and me.

“Where three of us finish and how many tournaments we win don’t count. You have to see who are the youngsters and new guys coming up. What matters is how many young Grandmasters are we producing?” Surya told

The Telegraph.

“If you try to compare the U-15 level of our chess with that of Tamil Nadu, you will see we are terribly behind… Just incomparable in terms of rating…

“Now we have to ask ourselves why we find such a huge gap. Right at the rookie level, if you get good coaching, you’ll see quick results.

“In Tamil Nadu, some 10 years ago, a few Grandmasters quit playing and took to full-time coaching.

“One of the prominent names is that of RB Ramesh. He has this ChessGurukul where he teaches kids and youngsters and he’s among the new-age Grandmasters who are well aware of modern-day chess — the changes the game has undergone.

“Someone like R. Praggnanandhaa has learnt the game and honed his skills under Ramesh’s tutelage only. He is just one example,” Surya said.

Deep, however, has a different view. “Even after me, Bengal has had Diptayan (Ghosh) and Sayantan (Das) as Grandmasters, with Saptarshi achieving the norm last year. So, the situation is not that bad.

“Yes, Tamil Nadu is ahead, but ahead of not just Bengal… All other states as well, and that’s because of the infrastructure there. It’s mainly due to Ramesh’s initiative,” he said.

So, what’s the solution then to bring the good old days back? One of the ways is to get Grandmasters from other states and train the kids and youngsters, says Surya, but with a poser.

“From where do we get the funds to do so? That’s a problem…

“Obviously, I would like to take up coaching, but not till I’m a full-time player. Once I am done with playing, I would then certainly like to return the society something.

“But at the moment, I cannot force myself into coaching. That will do injustice to both coaching and my game. One cannot do two things at the same time,” he explained.

According to Soumen Majumder, secretary of Alekhine Chess Club, “If the state government steps up and gives a bit of support, more sponsors can come in which can lead to further improvement of infrastructure.

“In Odisha, guidelines for financial assistance to the players for international participation, advance training and coaching have been formulated. If the same is done here, our players may do even better.”