Sushrutha Reddy: Revolutionizing Chess in Karnataka at the Grassroot level
Chess in Bangalore and Karnataka is on the rise and it is only because of dedicated individuals like Sushrutha Reddy. His teachings to students in all the schools has made a significant change. His hardwork over the years has led to nearly 1500 blooming talents across the country. We got a chance to talk to the man himself, and his story through the years really grabs ears. His friend, and respected coach by his own stature, Aravind Shastry, also had his own insight into Reddy's journey. Some of his most loyal students also gave their piece of mind on his coaching. The summary of all their responses is common: that Reddy's teaching is unique in it's own regard. The following article is in honour of Sushrutha's birthday.
A good student cannot be without a good teacher. The teacher, who is of the highest-quality can change the student's chess career drastically. Meet Sushrutha Reddy, the man changing the career of over 1500 students across schools in Bangalore, Karnataka. He has truly changed the chess culture there, and is one of the people who inculcated the habit of playing chess. We were able to ask him a few questions, and his story throughout, from how he became a chess coach to now promoting the sport on a big scale in the city of Bangalore.
Avathanshu Bhat (AB): Could you please tell me something about yourself?
Sushrutha Reddy (SR): I am a chess player, and I’m a chess trainer. I teach occasionally at schools and also at my academy, Innovator’s Chess Club. I love movies, and very close to nature.
AB: I believe, your father is a doctor and your grandfather is a freedom fighter. So how did you get interested in chess?
SR: I was playing scrabble a lot with my aunt, Sujata. And, eventually we got fed up of playing the same game everyday. Thereafter she put me into chess, and at that point she showed me the pawn going sideways! So at the beginning, I was playing with the pawns going sideways, and you can imagine, it was a disaster!
AB: Why did you choose to become a chess coach, what made you to not pursue chess full time?
SR: I’ll tell you what happened, as a chess player I was never hardworking. The reason is because, point no.1, we didn’t have coaches at that time. By that I mean there were hardly three coaches then in Bangalore. There were hardly any pursuers of chess. When I became truly serious about Chess, I was well into my 20s. The way I got into coaching is quite interesting. Hanumanta from the Karnataka Chess Association was the person who tried to bring me into coaching in 2002. That time when I was training, I used to fall asleep! So I introduced him to Durgesh, my friend, instead, and I said I was sure they would not let him down. That is how Durgesh entered into coaching.
4 years down the line, in 2006, Hanumanta called me again. He told me Durgesh went away on an emergency and there is nobody to replace him as a trainer. He told me I should take up a mantle of coaching. I saw the sense of his words, quit my job thereafter, and started coaching. “I only saw uncles and aunties, never anybody from a young age group. I wanted to change that, and took up coaching.”
My journey for teaching began in Schools, expanded to Innovator's Chess Academy, and it all went from Monthly tournaments to weekly ones!
AB: How many students did you have when you started, and how about now?
SR: When I started I had zero! Seriously, I had some very loyal students with me, around twenty at one point. Currently, I have around 1500 students across schools.
People tend to ask me about Social Media and Chess a lot. I think that it has really changed the scene in chess. If suppose someone wants to know something about chess, they simply go and search about chess, and they are met with so many articles and videos to their content. We didn't have these, back then, and it is a great addition for chess training now.
"When I started, I din't have much hopes from chess, but now what with all these young and whiz talents, I can clearly say I was wrong! When I think of development in Chess, I think of ChessBase India. It is doing a wonderful job promoting chess, and making Indian kids major competitors in the world. Already, what some kids are achieving is very impressive! I really credit ChessBase India for that!"
One of the people in Sushrutha Reddy’s circle who we could speak to was Mr Arvind Shastry, his very good friend.
Arvind says that Sushrutha Reddy is one of the greatest organizers in Karnataka. “His academy's name Innovator’s Chess is very fitting, as he always comes up with creative and all-round innovative ideas, such as the 10 lakh prize fund for State in Karnataka, which was a first. In all over India, you will not find a 10 lakh prize fund for a state championship. To do that, he had to speak to Founder of Akshayakalpa, who helped him out with that. Most importantly, he revolutionalized Chess in Schools. He keeps coming with his ideas, such as a below 1600 tournament with laptops as prizes! Sushrutha Reddy is responsible for the weekly tournaments that take place in Bangalore! All improvements in chess in Karnataka is thanks to people like Sushrutha Reddy," says Arvind Shastry.
Along the way, Sushrutha Reddy took the most pride in his students. He specifically talks about two of them, Yashas Donthi and Vaibhav Kalpaka.
Vaibhav has been training under Sushrutha until a year and a half ago. He decided after some time of playing that he needed a high class coach, one with whom he could fine-tune his game best. Then his father came to know about ICA, so Vaibhav started going there more. “Sushrutha sir's quality of teaching was very high, and I had a sudden jump in my rating after taking coaching from him,” says Vaibhav, whose Elo is now 1579.
Yashas Donthi used to learn from Sushrutha at his school, where Reddy would teach him very well. Yashas says, "Sushrutha sir is one of the most popular coaches in Bangalore, and is one of the main people who is popularizing chess in schools in Karnataka."
Sushrutha Reddy’s teachings have always been of a very high quality. He keeps his classes fun and yet challenges his students to work harder. Training over 1500 students is quite an amazing feat. It would be safe to say that Sushrutha has truly played a huge role for the chess revolution that is currently taking place in the state of Karnataka and the city of Bangalore.