Project Checkmate Journey

My journey with Project Checkmate has been extremely fruitful not just for the students who learn under this project, but for me as well. In April 2016, when I started teaching chess for the first time, I wasn't sure if the project will work out. I thought that there wouldn't be many things that I could do in this project in such a short period of time. However, I kept moving forward and didn't want to stop. I thought that the passion that these children had for chess was enough for me to make this project grow. At first, I didn't know about many ways to expand the project, but with time I created my own training plan for the students. I wanted them to feel good when they played chess and wanted them to enjoy the game as much as possible. I wanted them to explore a new territory, which had never been explored before. I wanted to step into the unknown and I wanted to make a positive contribution to the society.

I started small by teaching them the basics and giving them various tips from some books that I had. I also organised a few lectures on world champions and conducted regular quizzes for them to test their skills. I played simultaneous matches with them and showed them some of the historic games of the past.

The students learnt a lot through this project. They learnt how to play a game which was completely new to them. They learnt how to play against the mainstream society. Most importantly, they did something useful in their free time apart from their education from school. It would be difficult to explain the joys that these students felt when they went for their first State tournament. They were given a standing ovation by the entire NGO when they returned. It made them feel important and made it a moment to cherish in their lives forever. It is a proud moment for them to be registered with their state and get a state certificate. It meant the world for them and I was happy to have played some part in their moments of joy.

I could feel a difference in their attitudes when I organised a tournament for them at the NGO. Having played a state tournament with all the latest rules and regulations, their confidence was far from the usual. They knew exactly what they were doing and had improved by leaps and bounds. That is the reason why competing at tournaments is so important and has its own place apart from training at home.

The months after the start proved to be extremely eventful for these students. They were able to take part in various other events and they also got an online training software for their training schedule. They also received various books and stationery apart from the bags and water bottles that they had already received. Some of them even got specially prepared chess kits for their training along with a few tips from my sheets.

In October 2016, I took another big step for the development of this project. I organised a fund raiser at my colony's annual Diwali Mela. I raised sufficient amount of funds for the project and during this time I expanded to teaching chess to the blind students at the National Association of the Blind.

My book called 'Chess Notes' was finally launched after four years of writing and editing. It is a self-help book for beginners and inter-mediate players and has some of my experiences while playing on the international circuit. This book was given to the blind students in a special braille format and was also given to the students at the NGO. The book was useful for the students who were about to participate in the 1st ever National Schools for the Blind in Maharashtra.

The funds that were raised in October were used for the chess program at the NGO as well as for the blind student's travel to the National Schools.

The National Schools was a tournament to remember forever. The students won the top three prizes in the girls category and it was a proud feeling for me as I was able to help them achieve something big in their lives.

The next few months were filled with tournaments for the blind students. They participated in a local Delhi tournament winning a few medals, participated in the North Zone tournament and qualified for the National 'B' Chess Championship to be held in Kolkata, and they also played in the Modern School, Vasant Vihar inter-school tournament.

The biggest victory for this project was when one student learning under it achieved his international FIDE Rating. This was an extremely important moment in the student's chess career as it is one step closer to achieving success on the chess circuit.

The students also got an opportunity to compete against an AGM in a simultaneous exhibition.

There is more to come for this project and I feel that every good cause is rewarded. I have enjoyed my journey so far and it is something which has touched my heart and change the way I look at life. I have learnt a lot through this project and I hope that I could make it a global initiative soon.

P.S.- Visit the project's website for all the latest happenings of the project.
www.projectcheckmate.weebly.com

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