Chess Kerala Hosts Online Tournaments To Raise Money For COVID-19 Vaccine Collection In State
In a winning move, Chess Kerala, a collective of players from Kerala, is currently leading 2021 Grand Prix tournaments of the COVID Chess Kerala Vaccine Challenge, a series aimed at raising funds for the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund ( CMDRF) to aid the vaccination campaign in the state.
“Ageless players around the world can participate in eight online tournaments that take place every Sunday evening at 8 pm. The first took place on May 23. Participants and non-participants are urged to contribute at least the cost of a COVID-19 vaccine (₹ 300) or its multiples, to help Kerala fight the pandemic ”, says NR Anil Kumar, President of the organization and a former member of the Indian Olympic chess team and an international master.
As of now, 100 Indian and foreign players have confirmed their participation and 1.5 lakh has been collected. The tournament is hosted on Lichess.org, a free online chess portal.
Along with the fundraising tournament, Chess Kerala is also organizing a Women’s Grand Prix for players from Kerala. “Women’s failures have been marginalized. We have decided to organize a series of tournaments on behalf of former state champions. The most senior is Sreedevi Varma who was the champion in 1974. Then there is Sethu Varma, six times state champion, as well as PV Lalitha and Vasanthi Unni ”, explains Preetha KS, member of the Chess Kerala committee in charge of The advertisement. Since many women were participating in a tournament for the first time, two chess books were sent to them to perfect their moves.
A 23-member committee, made up of women, organizes the online tournament series every Saturday. Three hundred players from all over the world participate. The mega-final is in the name of Koneru Humpy, the current women’s fast world champion, and the super-final is in the name of chess legend Judith Polgar.
This is not the first time the organization has turned to gambling to help the state fight the pandemic. Last year, during the first lockdown in March 2020, Chess Kerala hosted the Checkmate COVID-19 international online blitz tournament on May 2, 2020. Three hundred and fifty players from 16 countries had registered for this tournament.
Many Grandmasters and International Masters like Viswanathan Anand, K Sasikiran, Nihal Sarin, SL Narayanan and others supported the event. Viswanthan Anand had tweeted about the event and he sent a video message to support it. Her tweet was re-tweeted by Judith Polgar, who also shared a video post.
Tara Devi Sunilkumar, member of the association’s executive committee, says the players, their parents, friends and supporters raised ₹ 4.55,000 which was donated to the CMDRF last year. There was no registration fee but each player had to pay at least ₹ 250.
Previously, Chess Kerala hosted a series of Chess Kerala Grand Prix to raise funds to help chess players and coaches in distress in April 2020. Anil says the event raised ₹ 90,000. “We were able to purchase a laptop computer for seven-time state champion OT Anil Kumar to help him teach online and make a living. In Idukki, we bought a desktop computer for KM Rajan, who is physically disabled. Many of them were working as coaches and trainers and our intention was to help them in any way we could, ”says Anil.
Likewise, they had raised funds during the 2018 flood by running tournaments and raised ₹ 138,500 for the CMDRF.
Meanwhile, to keep chess players motivated during the lockdown, 14 tournaments were held, each tournament in the name of brilliant old chess players, chess champions and organizers. “We wanted to introduce them to a new generation of players. We have produced videos, articles and organized tournaments on their behalf, ”says Anil.
It takes a village
Formed four years ago, Chess Kerala aims to help players, coaches and former players and encourage the game. Independent non-profit organization, its members are players, parents of children playing chess and tournament organizers in Kerala. He actively organizes events, children’s coaching camps and chess seminars.
Anil points out that unlike many sports organizations in India, every member of Chess Kerala has the right to vote and is not just pawns in the organization.
The organization has introduced a number of innovative events to popularize the old board game. “Seven of us, friends and ardent chess players, have an informal group, Oriental Chess Moves. I had traveled aboard the Chess Train, a tourist event in Prague, in which chess players have the chance to see the Czech Republic and play chess. I got the idea for Chess Houseboat 2020 and took it over with the Kerala State Tourism Development Corporation. A group of us traveled from Alappuzha to Thrissur, admired the scenery and also played chess, ”he explains.