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Sarayu, Sahithi and Mrittika get the Sarada Scholarship of Rs.10 lakh

by Sagar Shah - 18/11/2023

A kind gentleman who lives in Bangalore approached us with a proposal to support young and talented girl chess players of India. His proposition - he wanted to institute a scholarship in the name of his mother Sarada. He wanted the amount of Rs.10 lakh to be used in the best possible way for young Indian girl chess players. This is the reason why we came up with Sarada Scholarship via HelpChess Foundation where the amount of Rs.10 lakh is distributed among three extremely talented young girls of Indian chess - Sarayu Velpula (Rs.5 lakh), Sahithi Varshini (Rs.2.5 lakh) and Mrittika Mallick (Rs.2.5 lakh). This amount is going to be an invaluable contribution in the journey of these young talents.

Sarada Scholarship of Rs.10 lakh

"Supporting women and girls in their chosen paths of excellence was something very close to my mother’s heart." says the initiator of the Sarada Scholarship. He wanted to keep his own name publicly anonymous. Saradaji, in whose memory the scholarship is setup, passed away recently. Her son who wants to support the young and talented girls of Indian chess mentions, "There is nothing like supporting young girls in pursuit of chess which by itself is such a deep and individual strife for excellence and creativity."

Saradaji in whose memory the Sarada Scholarship has been instituted

The amount of the scholarship is Rs.10 lakh and after due deliberation it was decided that it would be split between three upcoming talents of Indian chess - Sarayu Velpula (Rs.5 lakh), Sahithi Varshini (Rs.2.5 lakh) and Mrittika Mallick (Rs.2.5 lakh).

The benefactors of Sarada Scholarship. (From left to right): Sahithi Varshini, Sarayu Velpula and Mrittika Mallick

Sarayu Velpula (Elo: 2444)

Sarayu Velpula is the current India no.4

Sarayu Velpula shot into prominence in the second half of 2023, when the young girl from Telangana jumped from an Elo of 1835 to 2444. That's a 609 Elo gain in a period of just 2 months!

Sarayu's rating graph shows a very hungry worm at the right end!

The thing which makes Sarayu's recent successes special is the fact that she was stagnated in the 1800-2000 zone for almost 4 years! While her rating was not growing, she was working hard each day and the result is here for everyone to see. It's quite possible that Sarayu will take some time to stabilize herself in the 2400+ Elo zone. And that would mean playing in more tournaments and getting more exposure and this is the reason why 50% of the scholarship amount was decided to be given to her. Sarayu comes from a very humble and modest background and this amount will greatly help her in her chess journey. One thing is for sure - the girl completely sleeps, eats and breathes chess. Not just her but also her family. Just for her chess they took a brave decision of shifting from their hometown of Warangal to Hyderabad, so that she could be closer to her coach's (IM Krishna Teja) academy.

Sarayu Velpula speaks about her journey

When we informed Sarayu about the scholarship, she was elated. She mentioned, "Firstly, I would like to thank the donorHelpChess for choosing me for Sarada Scholarship. This means a lot to me. This has come at the right time for me - just when I am planning on what I should be doing that will take me to next levels on my chess journey. This scholarship gives a good head start on what is planned for me over next few months. This will cover 1/3rd of yearly expenses that we expect we will have to incur over next year. Plan is to do atleast 4 international trips this year and I intend to use this to fund a couple of these trips (& 2-3 tournaments a trip)."

Sahithi Varshini (Elo: 2181)

Born in 2007, Sahithi Varshini is a big talent

Sahithi Varshini is a very talented and aggressive player. She likes to hurl her pieces towards her opponent's king launching imaginative attacks. Towards the end of 2021, her father took a bold decision of putting his work on hold and travelling with her across the world for an entire year. This helped her break into 2300 Elo and also get a spot in the India 3 team at the Chennai Olympiad 2022. Her rating has dipped a bit lately and is currently 2181 and she hasn't played any chess since nearly 4-5 months. But this is the calm before the storm. The youngster will play in the Sunway Sitges tournament in December in Spain and also at the World Rapid and Blitz/Lorca tournaments. It will be interesting to follow her journey.


What does this assistance mean to Sahithi? Speaking on behalf of her, her father Lokesh, who is also her coach, said, "The assistance will be immensely valuable in bolstering Sahithii's journey, particularly given that my resignation from my job to fully support Sahithi's chess career has brought about financial constraints. At this stage, your support is truly pivotal." A few months ago, Sahithi's father quit his job at HPCL so that he can fully dedicate his time to his daughter's chess career. "We will be utilising this support for Sahithis way forward journey towards WGM and IM titles."

Check out the games of Sahithi Varshini in this video titled - Mikhail Tal would have been proud

Mrittika Mallick (Elo:1970)

Mrittika Mallick is the current under-17 national champion

A talented youngster from West Bengal, Mrittika Mallick is born in 2008. She is extremely talented and her current Elo of 1970 does not represent her true strength. She comes from modest means and this support is sure to boost her chess career. Mrittika's father Arindham Mukherjee wrote to us, "At the outset I convey my gratitude from the core of my heart for selecting Mrittika for the Sarada Scholarship from HelpChess. The scholarship amount of Rs. 2.5 lakh will be used only for the purpose of providing or creating opportunities to Mrittika so that she elevates to a better position in her career as a chess player. The amount of Rs.2.5 lakh is a significant amount for us. This scholarship amount is giving me much needed confidence that now I will be able to send my daughter abroad (mainly to European countries) to take part in the tournaments going to be held in near future and I firmly believe that Mritikka would be immensely benefitted by taking part in those tournaments. She is also very much confident that she would be able to increase her rating by taking part in those tournaments. The amount has brought a ray of hope among us as well as Mrittika that in near future we are going to see another GM from our country."

Mrittika when she became the under-14 National Champion
Mrittika's father on his daughter's success when she became the under-14 national champion

A final word from the donor:

"You (Sagar) and Amruta are fine ambassadors and supporters of the game and its ecosystem in India. So this is as much a support of what you both do as it is a support of the players themselves." On our part we are extremely grateful that the Sarada Scholarship has been instituted. Pravaha Foundation earlier this year showed their support towards some of the most amazing girl chess talents in the country - Savitha, Vantika, Shubhi, Saparya and Charvi (along with Ilamparthi). And now with the Sarada Scholarship we have three more talented girls who are being supported. Indian women's chess is making rapid strides in the right direction.

About HelpChess Foundation:

HelpChess is a registered charitable Trust with 80G tax benefits run by ChessBase India. If you would like to contribute towards the growth of Indian chess players, please go to the official website and become a believer or a big believer (contribution above Rs.50,000). If you are a big believer then you can give a name to your scholarship by writing to us at We can assure you that every single penny that you contribute will be used to support Indian chess players.

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