India's first chess features print magazine published quarterly from Lucknow since 2004 by Aspire Welfare Society.

Monday, January 17, 2022

"Take Advice, but Play the Move YOU Want in Life!"

Indian chess found a literary and philosophical voice recently. Black & White catches up with Chennai-born engineer chess player-coach, and author, Naveen Karthikeyan. Zainab Raza Undulusi convinced the shy young man to step out of his shell for a bit.

Title: 18x64 - Chess Class, Life Lessons with Bhagavad Gita shlokas

Availability: Amazon, Flipkart, Publisher website, author website, select brick 'n mortar bookstores (discount link at end of article)

"Sit anywhere and have whatever if you wish to," smiles the lanky author pointing to a tray of tea and coffee sachets as you enter his study.

Part amused, part charmed you take off your mask and sit down.

"Freedom. I believe in Freedom," says Naveen Karthikeyan sounding apologetic, "I didn't mean to be rude according to Indian traditions of welcoming a guest."

Q: Indeed. Isn't there a whole chess and life lesson link to the idea of "Freedom" in your book?

Karthikeyan explains, "Everyone likes to control someone else's game of life. We are constantly told what move to play particularly when making the most important choices in life. Not that people want to harm you when advising. It can be well-meaning friends or family members but they may have no clue who you really are as an individual. It can be society looking at generalising everyone or prejudices etc. Just that freedom of individual choice is restricted or missing. It's your life, your game. No one else has the right to play it. Take advice and take decisions your way. Young Indians truly need to do that. Like in chess. It's worth the struggle to be you - the original you - and take responsibility for being you."

Q: So how do you know your decision is right?

"I don't know. Please don't project me as a guru. I'm not one. I don't have any answers," he's quick to reply.

There's a silence between us. I decide on the tea.

Karthikeyan continues, "This monk once told me that the decision has to feel right for you in your heart region. You try to sense honestly the energy there. 

"That's why we read, discuss, travel etc to cultivate ourselves, to have the knowledge to take good decisions for ourselves. It's not about me versus someone or society. It's about me versus the old me." 

Some fans picking up the book at a meet-the-author event
at Dubai Expo recently.


Q: You've already been apologetic twice about your thoughts here

"Maybe, I want to protect your freedom of not getting influenced by me," he smiles.

Such life lessons combined with super-strong chess studies make Karthikeyan's book a delight to read.

Karthikeyan says, "The 18 chapters of the Bhagavad Gita and 64 squares of the chessboard hold spiritual secrets. Isn't it amazing that we talk of two battlefields and the message is construction, not destruction."

"I have also tried to explore the concept of meditation in my book. It's state of flow. The world's best sportsmen, musicians, creative artists all go into a zone that is defined by a timelessness. Somehow, we can access creativity or, what I would call, a higher consciousness. We, as Chess players, feel the state of flow or meditation during our games." 

Karthikeyan adds, "I want the book to be a beginning of philosophical analysis among chess players and a beginning of Chess for non-players."

18x64 is written in simple English structured in carefully thought-out 22 chapters. Each chapter consists of a shloka (in Sanskrit), followed by a literal translation, scene setting from the Kurukshetra battlefield, a life philosophy interpretation and a thought for chess players. There are a total of 108 chess studies in the book which are sure to raise your playing strength.

Q: How did the book happen?

"Dr Junaid Ahmad (former chess champion of Uttar Pradesh) is a senior Indian chess player and chess club administrator. I was visiting him for my chess sets business at his club. I had no clue that a short trip would extend to so many days. The virus happened. There were no return flights. I was forced to spend time in his extensive library. My father had changed worlds a few months back. I was already emotionally at my weakest. The library kept me afloat. I was reading the Bhagavad Gita and I was studying Chess. By some grace, it all came together."

"The beauty of Chess is that you don't have to be a professional player to benefit from what it gives you. I'm no expert. I just want to share what I gained during my own healing process and while studying Chess," he says.

Q: An engineer by profession, Naveen Karthikeyan is also a chess coach and Fide arbiter. How's that?

"I started out by playing actually. I had to switch to teaching to earn during my father's illness," he says. "I hope I can return to playing, but my greater satisfaction now will be even if one person benefits the slightest from the content of my book - in life and in chess." 


*Hot seat Rapid Round*

Favourite world champion: Bobby Fischer

Favourite chess player: Grandmaster Jonathan Rowson (also my hero. I want to think, play, and write like him.)

Favourite openings: 1.e4, Caro Kann, King's Indian

Favourite city: Really can't say one please so that's Chennai, Lucknow, Berlin, Barcelona and Amsterdam. 

Favourite food: Dosa evermore 

I am happy when: the kids in my class fall in love with chess 

Future plans: all adventures entrusted to destiny 

Girlfriend/Partner: too personal to tell 

Life is: a game

Chess is: Life

India is: the best

Meditation is: Power

Workout: Yoga and Qi Gong

Chennai has so many GMs because: It's in the air

Other interests: learning languages, reading everything, gardening and cooking

Favourite book: Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach

Pets: Cat lover

Life philosophy: Freedom. Individual liberty and free societies.

The book can be purchased on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle versions.
If you purchase the paperback book on author website, use code BANDW for a Rs 100 discount.



Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Help Visually Challenged Kerala Chess Star Saliah

Mohammed Saliah is a national-level chess player with International Fide rating of 1463, but born blind. He has won several chess championships at the state and national levels. Saliah has the ability to play with multiple people simultaneously by memorising up to 10 boards. 



He is currently pursuing his LLB and his dream is to start a chess academy where he could support people to refine their skills in chess and giving training on techniques to improve memory and thinking power. 

Six members of his family are blind including his grandfather, father, Saliah himself, his two sisters and his daughter. Your donation will light up their life.

Most people who watch his game, congratulate him, sympathise and some rarely offer donations but no one has really come forward to help him create a stable income by starting his own venture in the field of chess. 
Saliah is 100 % visually challenged. However, most of his accolades were achieved not as a participant in that category!

For donation details contact: Mr Unnikrishnan Nair @ +919745009573

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Moscow's Chess Metro Train!

Moscow, Dec 28: A new branded train Chess joins the Sokolnicheskaya (red) line of the Moscow metro. Starting from the depot Severnoe on 28 December, the train has opened a new page in Russian chess history. The Chess train's start was witnessed by the many-time world champion Anatoly Karpov, general producer of the Chess musical and Artistic Director of the MDM Theater Dmitry Bogachev, Deputy CEO on Client Services and Passenger Work of the Moscow Metro Yulia Temnikova, General Director of MTS Entertainment Mikhail Minin, and the CFR Chess Museum's curator, Candidate of Historical Sciences Dmitry Oleinikov.

Photos by Eteri Kublashvili















 

The new themed train's addition to the Moscow Metro is a joint effort of the International Chess Federation (FIDE), the Chess Federation of Russia, the Broadway Moscow Theater Company, and MTS Entertainment.

Each of the five cars of this unique train with no counterparts in the world is dedicated to different chess-related themes — game history, chess development in the Soviet Union and in Russia, VIP names in the world of chess, and, of course, the elegant chess pieces on easily identifiable black-and-white squared that keep inspiring representatives of creative professions. In addition, the train displays noteworthy facts about chess in cinema, visual arts, theatre, literature, and in the life of celebrities.

What about Madonna being an avid chess player and hiring the Scotland champion as her coach? And what about Marilyn Monroe's possessing a hefty collection of chess, which included sets made of precious metals? Or that the role of Svetlana from the legendary musical "Chess" was composed by ABBA with Alla Pugacheva in mind?

As for the game itself, everyone will definitely find something of interest here. Thus, as we know it today, classical chess is far from the only representative of this ancient art. What else is to know, after all? Something for the passengers to find in this new train, which is essentially a chess encyclopedia on rails. That said, it's high time we visit the metro, the Sokolnicheskaya line, get on the chess train and watch, read, wonder, and admire! And, needless to say, be proud of how crucial chess has been for the history of our country and that our grandmasters are world stars! The Chess train is a real mobile gallery gifted to the tourists and natives of Moscow: to get in touch with the chess history, you no longer need to buy a ticket to the museum — a metro ticket will do!

The chess train will circulate along the Sokolnicheskaya Line of the Moscow Metro for six months for everyone to have ample time to enjoy the stylish mobile chess gallery.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

You have to enjoy what you do to excel: Carlsen

Magnus Carlsen (right) of Norway and Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia at the press conference in Dubai on Wednesday. (International Chess Federation Twitter)


DUBAI, 24 November 2021 – Reigning world chess champion Magnus Carlsen and his Russian rival Ian Nepomniachtchi revealed some of their motivations during a press conference at Expo 2020 Dubai today, before they go head to head for the crown at the FIDE World Chess Championship (24-16 December).

The Norwegian has held the title since 2013 and is considered one of the greatest chess talents of all time. Carlsen became a grandmaster at the age of 13, and has been the world's number one player continuously since 2011.

Two-time Russian champion Nepomniachtchi is the winner of the 2020/21 Candidates Tournament and finished second in the 2019 FIDE Grand Prix, which qualified him for the Candidates Tournament.

Who is going to win this championship?

Ian Nepomniachtchi: “Normally, I think the best player wins.”

Magnus Carlsen: “I predict that the person who scores the most points over the next three weeks is going to be the winner and hopefully that’s going to be me and if I do win, it will probably be because I made some good moves and good decisions.”

Magnus, as you have held the World Champion title since 2013, does the pressure get easier?

Magnus Carlsen: “I think some parts of it may get easier as you get more experienced but it come comes down to how you perform over the board. It’s so intense and you also have lots of people in the team who have World Championship experience. But you’re probably a little bit less nervous than you are the first time.”

Women are a minority in the world of chess. Why do you think that is?

Ian Nepomniachtchi: “I think the general issues are that girls are less amazed [than boys] in chess skills classes, and they also have other hobbies. But I think there will be a time when we see some really strong female players.”

Magnus Carlsen: “I think this question is way too complicated to answer in a few sentences. There are a number of factors, especially cultural that have led to the situation we have today. I encourage everybody to play chess. And what I’ve found around the world is that young girls find as much joy as boys in the game of chess. And if that could be communicated more, I think that would be very helpful.”

As you know, Expo 2020 Dubai is focusing on inspiring our youth – the leaders of tomorrow. What’s your advice for young generation, who want to become champions like you?

Ian Nepomniachtchi: “You have got to enjoy what you’re doing, whether it’s chess or science or sports.”

Magnus Carlsen: “That what I would say – you have to enjoy what you do to excel in your field.”

Moderated by Maurice Ashley, the FIDE World Chess Championship Press Conference also featured Andrey Gureyev, CEO, Phosagro; Arkady Dvorkovich, FIDE President; and Dara Maher, Regional Head of Marketing, Kaspersky.

Magnus Carlsen also visited the Spain Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, host of the World School Chess Tournament from the 25-29 November. Carlsen joined the world’s best female player in history, Judith Polgar, to take a group picture with the young participants. In total, 108 teenagers and children from 10 different countries have been grouped in 12 teams to play the finals at the event. -- Expo2020

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