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Rs.4,62,734 raised for Indian chess in a four hour YouTube stream!

by Sagar Shah - 25/07/2020

On 25th of July 2020 something unbelievable happened on ChessBase India's YouTube channel. Since last two months, we have been having the show "Improving Chess with the comedians" where IM Sagar Shah has been meticulously training three comedians - Samay Raina, Biswa Kalyan Rath and Vaibhav Sethia, along with the thousands of viewers who tune in to watch it each day. Today, was the 57th episode and it just looked like another day at business, when beautiful things began to happen! The entire community got together and guess what?! Before we knew it over Rs.4,62,734 were raised! Read on to know what happened!

451 viewers of ChessBase India YouTube channel come together to raise Rs.4,62,734

It was a morning just like any other. I woke up and switched on my laptop, set up my OBS, and sent the zoom links to all the three comedians (Samay Raina, Biswa Kalyan Rath and Vaibhav Sethia). It was the 57th episode of the Improving Chess series. 11-year-old super-talent Ilamparthi AR was going to be the guest. The idea was to show the chess world what a wonderful prodigious talent this young lad from Chennai is, and at the same time he could teach a trick or two to the comedians to get better at chess.

Ilamparthi is just 11 years old and with an Elo of 1989 is one of the biggest talents of the country. Although his rating is 1989, I believe his strength is close to the 2400 mark and once the tournaments begin after the lockdown, he is sure to fulfill this prophecy! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Improving Chess is a series I had begun along with Samay Raina, one of India's finest stand up comedians. We had started this initiative on 19th of May 2020 when Samay, who is thoroughly interested in chess, decided that he wants to make sure that he keeps improving at the game. The time decided was 8 a.m. in the morning and when we announced it a lot of people complained that they couldn't wake up so early in the morning. My thinking was pretty simple - if you want to get better at chess, the first thing you need to do is to fix your sleep. You cannot be sleeping at just about any time in the day and waking up at any time and expect to become a better player. Samay, who streamed a lot of chess on his channel, had built up a lot of fan following for himself and chess. The morning sessions of Improving chess were for those who wanted to go an extra mile and get better at the game!

The first thumbnail of the Improving Chess series!

Another big name in Indian stand-up comedy Biswa Kalyan Rath joined in from the fourth session and one of the coolest comedians Vaibhav Sethia joined in from eighth session onwards. An important thing I wanted to achieve with this series was consistency. It would not work out well if we streamed for a week and then took a break of three days and streamed again. Chess improvement is a tedious and long drawn out process and it is critical to work on your game each day. As you can see in the last 67 days we have had 57 streams! Samay, Biswa and Vaibhav would play games each day against the viewers and I would analyze them in great depth on the stream. Doing this over and over again helped to improve their chess understanding. In the process, the understanding of thousands of people who followed these episodes was also improving.

The image beautifully crafted by Pulkit Mehta showcasing the three comedians became our trademark thumbnail for all the future episodes!

The streams continued each day and a lot of different topics were covered. Some of them were: Checks, Captures and Threats (Three golden rules), understanding tactical themes like pin, fork, double attack, x-ray etc., Endgames - Lucena, Philidor, opposition and much more. We also had guest lecturers joining in, the most prominent of them being GM Cemil Can Ali Marandi from Turkey, who now resides in the USA, India's finest chess trainer GM R.B. Ramesh, GM Magesh Chandran, IM Eric Rosen, IM Saravanan, cameo appearances by Vidit Gujrathi, B. Adhiban and many others.

The Improving Chess with comedians Playlist has 57 videos + a bonus video analysis of Samay beating me in a blitz game!

Fast forward to 25th of July 2020 and the show began as promised at 8 a.m. in the morning. Ilamparthi joined in and so did Samay. Ilamparthi gave a glimpse of his brilliance as he solved tactics at the speed of lightning. At some point when we were analyzing the game between Ilamparthi and Samay, Anshuman Das, who is the biggest contributor through superchats on different chess channels (Samay's channel, Vidit's channel, Ganguly's channel etc.), decided to contribute Rs.10,000. A superchat is a way in which a viewer can contribute to a YouTube creator and his message would be highlighted in the chat for a few minutes. Now Rs.10,000 is a big amount and I felt that the best use of it would be to give it to Ilamparthi in the form of ChessBase softwares and chess books, so that he can use it to improve his game. This gesture was appreciated by other viewers watching the stream and very soon we had a huge number of people who began contributing via superchats! It was so overwhelming to see the support and I decided that all the money that we received on the stream today will be used to support talented and promising youngsters of Indian chess in need of the funds. And that is how it all began!

The stream had roughly around 1500 people watching! Nothing out of the ordinary for the morning Improve your Chess streams!

I assumed that a few more people would contribute and that would be the end of it. But I couldn't be more wrong! Seeing that the money was going to be used for a good cause, a lot of people came forward and contributed via superchat! But what does a lot mean? 50 superchats? 100? 200? Not really! A total of 556 superchats were received and combining the money received in Google Pay and PayPal a massive amount of Rs.4,62,734 was raised in 4 hours!

Vidit joined in the stream and so did Biswa. Vaibhav, who has been such an integral part of the show, was sleeping, but Samay made sure he too was present in this historic moment!

We also had Vidit's mother joining in for a couple of minutes... well as Samay's mother!
Check out the entire stream and enjoy the positive and wholesome atmosphere of it! We also touched the highest concurrent viewers ever in a livestream for ChessBase India - 5300+ people!

A note of appreciation:

Through YouTube streaming chess players have built a very closely knit community. The efforts of chess players like Vidit Gujrathi, Anish Giri, B. Adhiban (just launched his own channel), Teimour Radjabov, Surya Ganguly and ChessBase India have made a big impact. But it is amalgamation of chess with the comedians that has brought in the new people to follow the sport. Led by Samay Raina's love for the game and his constant innovative ideas has built up a new viewership for the sport who hitherto weren't aware of how cool chess was! Bringing massive YouTube stars like Tanmay Bhat, Flying Beast (Gaurav Taneja), Bhuvan Bam, and many others on his channel and making them play chess has definitely brought so many new followers to the sport. But Samay himself would not have been able to go on this journey if it were not for his friends - Biswa Kalyan Rath, Vaibhav Sethia, Anirban Dasgupta, Akash Mehta, Abhishek Upmanyu and many others! And how can we forget Agadmator, the man who instilled the love of chess in these comedians! As a chess promoter since over five years now, I am proud of this wonderful chess community that we have built up in this lockdown!

The people who have gathered a massive following for the chess community with their hard work and efforts in the lockdown. Top row L-R: Adhiban, Vaibhav, Samay, 2nd row L-R: Biswa, Vidit, Anish Giri, Bottom row L-R: Surya Ganguly, Agadmator, Radjabov

Total funds raised

Sr NoDonor's NamePortalDonationSum of Total INR
1Ansuman DasSuperchatINR 7000070000
2Shrish NagvekarPayPalUSD 1006847
Shrish NagvekarSuperchatUSD 60043200
3Karthik Ram SrinivasanSuperchatUSD 50036000
4ZeusSuperchatUSD 30021600
5Mohan GGSuperchatUSD 21515480
6Gaurav GupteSuperchatUSD 15010800
7KARTHIK B AGpayINR 1000010000
8Kishore HazarikaSuperchatINR 8337.248337
9Ruchir SutariaSuperchatUSD 104.997559
10Rahul PawarSuperchatUSD 1007200
11Dr. sminil mahajanSuperchatUSD 99.987199
12Amol PatilSuperchatINR 55005500
13Ayushi SharmaSuperchatINR 52005200
14Anuj GuptaSuperchatINR 50005000
15Anchit GuptaSuperchatINR 50005000
16rhishi24SuperchatUSD 66.664800
17Keith MascarenhasSuperchatUSD 664752
18CreativeNoobSuperchatUSD 614392
19Aman SinghSuperchatUSD 614392
20Namrata VoraSuperchatUSD 574104
21Jewel GulianiSuperchatUSD 574104
22Kaivalya K. S.SuperchatINR 41004100
23Sushrut PuranikSuperchatINR 40004000
24Tushar SawantSuperchatUSD 553960
25Devin anandSuperchatAUD 74.963823
26Shantanu PatelSuperchatUSD 503600
27Karthik VenkatesanSuperchatUSD 503600
28Akshat ShenoySuperchatUSD 503600
29Hemant KamathSuperchatUSD 503600
30Siddharth RanadiveSuperchatUSD 49.993599
31Abhijeet RawleSuperchatUSD 49.993599
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PiyushINR 4040
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Pankaj VirmaniSuperchatINR 100100
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471Pritesh JagtapSuperchatINR 4040
472Rushi BhattSuperchatINR 4040
473TarunSuperchatINR 4040
475harsh lunagariyaSuperchatINR 4040
476Aditya ShekharSuperchatINR 4040
477Snehil NarahariSuperchatINR 4040
478Yash VishnoiSuperchatINR 4040
479Trivikram BhardwajSuperchatINR 4040
480Anand TharadSuperchatINR 31.3431
482Tanmesh ShahSuperchatINR 2020
483historical funkierSuperchatINR 2020
484Yash AcharyaSuperchatINR 2020
485ritika jainSuperchatINR 2020
486AdolphViL2SuperchatINR 2020
487yadu mohurleSuperchatINR 2020
488MrCracker7SuperchatINR 2020
489Pankaj GehlotSuperchatINR 2020
490Akshit GuptaSuperchatINR 2020
491Rajesh RakshitSuperchatINR 2020
492Talusani MadhukerPayPalINR 1010
Grand Total523,345

*Please note: The funds were raised on 25th of July 2020 and the total amount was 4,62,734. On the next day when we had the stream, there were many people who said they too hadn't contributed. So we have included the superchats on 26th July as well in the list. The final amount is now 5,23,345. If you have contributed and your name is missing, please write to us at


A big thanks to Dnyansagar Gadgil and Supriya Bhat from the ChessBase India team for putting this data together in a short time.

Some heart warming messages:

I started playing chess watching Samay's stream, and got introduced to Sagar Shah. Indians don't realise who Vidit is, and YouTube becoming such a great bridge to this genius. You are our honor young man! Keep going 🙂 - Amrit Sarkar


apart from reintroducing me to chess, these streams have got me through past 4 months. Thank you Samay , vidit, sagar, biswa and vaibhav 🙂 - Yg97


Thanks for making chess great again!!! I have been playing chess from my childhood finally feels to be great to be playing chess. #sagarop #viditop #samayop #biswaop - Aditya Udupa


thanks to you all guys .my best timepass in lockdown is writing poem and playing chess. my childhood love .trying to gain that streak ag.reaching1100 - Vivek Mayank


I was going through a serious clinical depression during the lockdown. All your guy's streams have actually helped me overcome it. Thanks! love y'all. - Rahul Jain


3rd Superchat Today: Proud to say that recently I have updated my resume and linked in profile with chess as a hobby. Thanks for existing you guys.❤️ - Shashank Shukla


Sagar and gang, you inspire me to work towards my all time dream of setting up a sports school in Assam. Hoping to see many more GMs from Assam and India! - Mrityunjay Jalan


LOVE FROM BITS HYDERABAD. My friends have started playing chess because of you all! You all made chess a movement! - Anamol Bajpai


These are extremely stressful past few months for all the doctors and other healthcare staff around the world. That includes my family. Have been watching your streams everyday every single one ! It really helped us get through these difficult times. - Dr. Sminil Mahajan


I forgot chess which my father first taught me. Now coz of you guys, it's my life. Thanks all and Love you Samay bro. Biswa my Fav. Sagar-Vidit Gr8Job - Nishan Panchal

A few of my friends meet everyday to play and discuss chess for hours. Thank you folks for reintroducing chess to us! - Yash Shah


Every night I unwind watching Sagar’s stream and when I wake up first thing I check is if Samay or Vidit is streaming. Thanks for making lockdown so much fun.  - Chaitanya Singh


I've stopped playing PUBG, spend time watching chess playing thinking chess.. what have you done man!!! - Rajvinder Singh


This stream turned out so emotional.Special thanks to Samay for what u have done for ppl like me who were hunting for positivity for mental wellness during lockdown.Love u Samay ❤️ - Monalisa Chowdhury


You guys are awesome ♥️ Streams have helped me survive this lockdown. I never knew I could be hooked to chess streams soo much. Samay thank you for introducing us to this beautiful game and community. - Anisha Nair


Sagar, in your video on why you did not become a GM, one point was sponsorship, this stream proves- Ilamparthi has been recognized by Ansuman and NRI community - Mohan GG


Amazing to see what you can do just by using a laptop and a good internet connection and change lives of so many people! You taught us in-spite all odds. Came every morning at odds hour, jis time pe watching bilkul milti hi nahi. Janta pyaar toh karegi hi! Nice Shirt! - Kishore Hazarika


I am getting emotional don't know why just pure connection I think with this community my first superchat but watching from day 1 🤗 - Aayush Khandelwal


Mr. Sagar Shah - Dont have a single doubt that its a miracle! Have been following you since starting days and this day had to come. years of hardwork. Kudos to Samays dedication thruout. Btw, Kal ka game baki hai Samay bhai - Kunal Pednekar

How will the funds be utilized?

ChessBase India will recognize the best talents in the country who are in need of funds and will use them for their benefit. Please be rest assured that the funds will be utilized in the best possible way for the development of the sport. All of the updates will be shared with you on the ChessBase India website and also on our YouTube community page and social media.


Please note: YouTube takes away 30% of the amount contributed via Superchat. We have written to YouTube to not charge us this fee as it is all going to be used for a good cause. We will keep you updated regarding the same.

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