10 students of local academy have taken part in district-level tournaments
Little known Polakkunam village near here might well produce the next Viswanathan Anand.
A chess training school in this hamlet is stoking a passion for the board game among Dalit children hailing from indigent families in the neighbourhood, and has already thrown up a few mind-boggling talents. The ‘Sun Chess Academy' in the village teaches chess to about 40 boys and girls in the Dalit neighbourhood. Belonging to the 7-20 age group, the trainees are all students of the local Panchayat Union or Government Schools nearby.
As the academy has no premises of its own, students play the game in the courtyard of the local temple. Though the academy can count as its assets only a chess board, a set of pieces and a chess clock, it is registered with the District Chess Association.
J. Ramajayam, Academy founder, who himself never had a coach or a mentor to hone his game, imparts the basics and shares a few strategies with his students. And, the results are exciting.
While at least 10 students of the Academy have featured in district-level tournaments, a few have even gone on to bag titles. While K.Gokulakrishnan won the championship in the under-10 section at the district-level tournament, organised by Miracle Chess Academy at Tiruvannamalai in 2010, G. Annadurai secured the third place in the under-16 tournament, hosted by the District Chess Association. J.Sivabalan earned the fifth place in the same championship.
K. Sachin won the under-13 championship in the Dr.Prakasam Memorial District Level Tournament conducted by Vels International Chess Academy at Kannamangalam in March, while V.Nithishkumar, aged 7, who is playing chess for three years now, has already participated in two district-level tournaments.
“There are more talented players. But they are not yet ready to come out and participate in tournaments either due to parents' objections or because they are unable to cough up even the meagre amounts needed to enrol in competitions,” said Mr. Ramajayam.
Though initially the parents of his trainees disapproved of their children being glued to the chess board for hours together, they are now more supportive of the young talents after seeing some boys win prizes.
But, the parents shouldn't be worrying. “Our players excel in the studies as well. In fact, most of them are top rankers in class,” said Ramajayam.
To cap it all, Ramajayam himself is only a few notches away from getting FIDE international rating. While to get the rating one has to play against nine rated players and secure at least one draw, he has already played against seven rated players and won two matches at the Second AIM International FIDE rating chess tournament held at Namakkal in March.
Ramajayam learnt chess from a village mason at the age of 12 and began teaching the game to village youth.