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Mission man's creative moves to reach a crore

Chess veteran takes board game to schools across state to sharpen minds

RIGHT TARGET: Pritam Singh plots a move at JRD Tata Sports Complex in Jamshedpur on Wednesday. (Bhola Prasad)

Jamshedpur: Veteran chess player and 10-time state champion Pritam Singh, 45, is steadily inching towards his target of teaching chess to one crore people in Jharkhand, age no bar.

Singh, an income tax employee and a resident of Mango here, took up Mission Chess in 2016 and is looking to train one crore people by 2021.

"Chess improves and refines thinking and creativity and increases composure and focus," Singh said. "Chess keeps people away from negativity. For children, it works wonders, teaching them logical and lateral thinking. It's not called a mind game for nothing," said Singh, also CEO of All Jharkhand Chess Association (AJCA).

Though in these two years he has not been able to "quantify how nearer I am to my one crore target", he has been able to introduce chess at schools in Garhwa, Chatra, Giridih and Ramgarh districts, where previously there was no mass-scale chess playing culture.

"These four districts were hitherto untouched and it was thought to be a wise idea to start the game in schools to help inch us closer to the target," he said, adding the game was gaining ground in places such as Seraikela-Kharsawan and Chaibasa. "Chess is very prevalent in Jamshedpur, Ranchi and Dhanbad," he added.

He added that chess festivals hosted by AJCA in Jamshedpur, Dhanbad and Ranchi were another interesting way to meet the one crore target. "Chess festivals are meant for those between Under-7 and Under-19 age groups. These festivals have competitive events that add a spark to daily chess practice," Singh said.

He has also gone around giving one-hour lectures on why play chess at DAV Schools (CBSE) in NIT (Adityapur), Simdega, Baharagora, Jhinkpani, Chaibasa, Noamundi, Gua and Chiriyan. "We appointed four chess tutors at Sarla Birla Public School in Ranchi. The state outfit and Jamshedpur's Carmel Junior College jointly organise inter-school chess tournaments where students from Jamshedpur, Ranchi, Dhanbad, Chakradharpur and Bokaro also compete," Singh said.

"The state chess outfit and other dedicated chess players are lending me the much-needed support. The mission is not a one-man's job. The idea may be mine but it is all about teamwork," Singh said. "Even if this mission doesn't produce grandmasters, it will help children and youngsters sharpen their thinking that will help them in many ways."

Both Singh's daughters Prakriti, 15, a Class X student, and Smriti, 8, in Class III, at Loyola School, play chess, which he and his wife Bina encourage. They train at Jamshedpur Chess Academy, of which he is the secretary, and which is located in the same building of his Mango residence. "Time permitting, I also sit with my daughters to play chess," Singh smiled.

Will you enrol your children at a chess training centre? Tell ttkhand@abpmail.com

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