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Off the Board Tales #11 – Jayaram Ramanna

by Avathanshu Bhat - 04/07/2021

'Off the Board Tales' is a series by ChessBase India, where the premise revolves around people who are passionate about chess despite it not being their career. An emotional and short story is what you're up for, so read on for tales of joy, tales of aspirations, tales of sorrows, and tales of success. Jayaram Ramanna is the founder of ‘Chess Shoots’, based in Bangalore. He has trained many top international players.

“I want to quit my job. I want to teach chess.”

Leaving one's job to do what they love is never easy, and it took Jayaram Ramanna a very calculated approach to sustain during the initial days.

I was a senior designer at Volvo when I decided to quit and teach chess. I had known for a long time that chess was my true passion, and years of playing it on and off convinced me that it could work. My friends – who are now Karnataka’s leading coaches, would practice with me, and we used to meet to play chess 4 days a week! Books were expensive and took nearly 4 months to deliver, and I’d save up all my pocket money, just to play online chess in a café.

Jayaram has always been an active player in Karnataka along with his friends. It was clear to him that coaching would be the way to go.

When the time came, I went abroad for my higher education and worked as an engineer. I got a job offer in 2002, and yet a part of me missed my days of playing the game. To the shock of my family, in 2010, I quit my job, saying that I would focus on building a chess academy. Having spent a hefty sum for their son’s education, sending him abroad, and learning that he’s quitting didn’t sit well with my parents, which I could understand. However, there was no turning back.

Jayaram was able to deliver high-quality chess coaching and is one of the people responsible for its rise in his state.

Things were not as rosy as I had imagined, and I had forgotten to consider the sheer number of days students were off, which included 2-3 months for holidays, and 2 months for exams! I was earning barely enough to break even initially, but my friends who had become quite renowned in the chess scene provided me direction and helped me out.

Jayaram has already expanded his academy's student count by a massive amount, and it's his goal to keep it going and get more of the Karnataka youth into chess.

Now, my academy Chess Shoots has over 700 students training under various coaches. Every time I see the joys, sorrows, and playfulness of the kids in the academy I think back to when I had first started when I had the creeping sensation that I had made a mistake as others were better off than me. It reminds of me how far I’ve come, and the time and effort that I had to put in those days, leading to what it is now. I can comfortably say that I’m doing very well now - better than I could’ve even with my job – and online classes are going splendidly. I’m glad as ever that I chose to pursue my passion and brave the hardships. I hope that more people decide to do the same; to do what they love.


About the Author:

Avathanshu Bhat is a 16-year-old from Mumbai. He is the Editor-in-Chief for ChessBase India Juniors and Manager for ChessBase India's Elite Pass. He recently began a new series called 'Off the Board Tales' on ChessBase India's social media pages. He is a voracious reader, a Nolan film enthusiast, and is passionate about everything tech and games.

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