Mumbai: FIDE master and South Mumbai Chess Academy (SMCA) chief coach Balaji Guttula battled against 40 students of the Mount Litera International School in the age group of 5-13 years in an interactive simultaneous chess session organised by the SMCA at the school premises on Wednesday. This was the fourth such session organised by the SMCA, which has done a remarkable job in nurturing new talent in the sport.
A total of 40 chessboards were set up in a circular setting at the school’s spacious basement gymnasium. Balaji promptly moved from board to board, taking less than five seconds per opponent. Also, students were allowed to make their moves only when the Grandmaster arrived at the board. The FIDE Master had already picked up his first victory within the first 20 minutes and he said that the sport is essential for increasing focus and patience among kids. “Chess is rapidly growing in India…It is an essential sport for increasing patience and focus among such young kids,” he said.
The session continued for two hours, at the end of which Balaji was able to get the better of all 40 opponents. The final five players were awarded medals by the SMCA for their efforts. “These talented students would be further trained to get a chance to play against Vishwanathan Anand,” said an SMCA member.
Rating all the kids as talented and well versed with the game, Balaji said, “Nowadays, parents prefer indulging their children with electronic gadgets or mobile phones and this practice has affected the concentration levels of these children.” He also said that these youngsters also made many impulsive decisions.
But Balaji also maintained that practice is the key in order to achieve success in chess. Talking about the position of the sport in the country, he emphasised on the efforts that he is making as a coach in association with the SMCA to groom more and more children in order to give India her future champions in chess.
Speaking about Vishwanathan Anand’s legacy in chess, the SMCA chief coach said, “He may be past his prime but he (Anand) remains an iconic player of the sport. He truly is a legend. Players like Pentala Harikrishna, Vidit Gujrathi and many more that we don’t hear about often, are doing a phenomenal job. Since chess is not an Olympic sport, the attention it gets is perhaps a little less,” he added further, while talking of the future Indian stars in chess. For the record, SMCA being one of the top chess academies across the globe has already produced players like Suhaani Lohia, Dev Shah et al in the junior category who have made the country proud on several occasions.
However, Balaji appeared largely relaxed even after a gruelling two-hour simultaneous chess session, having walked around the room, plotting and calculating 40 boards all at once. Now, after penetrating the school level, the coach said that he got involved in a simultaneous chess after a long time. “The last simultaneous exhibition that I was a part of was over 16 years ago, in my college,” he said.