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Chess at the end of the dark tunnel

By Newsd
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Childhood is a gift but unfortunately not all are blessed with a happy one. The plight of underprivileged and blind children spurred a school student with a passion for chess to do something unique.

18 year-old Devanshi Rathi believes that one must never give up hope and that firm belief made way for ‘Checkmate’.

A 12th standard student, Rathi is a chess enthusiast and initiated a project called ‘Checkmate’ in April 2016 to help underprivileged and visually-impaired children to learn the game of chess.

As we know, Chess is the only sport in the world which allows visually-impaired players to compete against any other normal-visioned player.

Under this project, 20 underprivileged students and 20 visually-impaired students are learning chess. According to Rathi, their “biggest achievement was when a student achieved international Fédération Internationale des Échecs  (FIDE)- organisation that governs international chess competition, rating.  Even though the project focuses on chess development but it also aims to educate these children to develop their minds holistically.

The students have been participating in numerous events through this project. They have been winning accolades at local, zonal, and national school championships.

When asked why she chose chess to help these children, she said “I feel that teaching chess was the best that I could do. This is one field that I have some experience in. Besides, I find that there is nobody doing this kind of work in India and even if there are, there are just a few. This is one field which has a lot of scope to expand and maybe we might find our next Vishy Anand amongst these children”.

Giving details about the project, Rathi said that the classes are held at Ishwar Ngo in New Delhi for two hours twice a week.

“I have now started working with blind students at the NAB, New Delhi. I conduct classes mostly via Skype. I also go to the centre a few times for their training. Like I mentioned earlier, I have mentored a student personally via emails, skype calls, facebook conversations, and in face interactions. I try to make them as independent as possible and give them regular homework to do. Besides, in chess, you need to do much of the work via self-studying and a trainer can only provide you with all the tools needed. This is the motto that I have imbibed in these children so that they are able to improve faster,” she said.

The project is entirely financed through fundraisers and donation campaigns. Rathi has also contributed her prize winnings from chess tournaments. She mentioned that the society has been quite helpful. However, she added, “Funds are a major hindrance for this project to grow internationally”.