chessbase india logo

Launching the Teach Chess India Mission

by Sagar Shah - 23/10/2023

Chess has the power to change lives. All those who have played chess are aware of the same. But how does it exactly work? In this article, IM Sagar Shah shows us how the work he along with his friends started at the Children's home in Chembur has made chess an integral part in the lives of the kids! Chess has brought a positive change in the premises. Read on to know how this happened. And with this ChessBase India also launches the Teach Chess India mission. If you too would like to make a difference, please do consider filling in the form to become a volunteer for this program. 

A children's home that embraced chess

It all began in March 2023 when we decided that we should begin teaching chess to the Chembur Children's Home in Mumbai. This home was established under the Child Care Institution (CCI). CCI houses kids who are orphans or are living away from their parents. CCIs are defined under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015. They were established to provide care and protection to the children.

It was such a wonderful co-incidence that the first session was held when Gukesh was visiting us in Mumbai to record a video course and was at our place. He decided to join us.

It all began with a few kids who got to know that a chess class is happening inside their home and joined us. They didn't know the names of the pieces nor did they understand how pieces moved. But they were very imaginative and inquisitive. When I would ask them to name a piece, they would invariably call the bishop - a rocket! At first I was stuck in my own way of teaching! But very soon I realized if we do have to make progress teaching these kids at the home, I had to give up my traditional way of teaching chess and embrace the way they wanted to learn it. And when you do think about it, Rocket, does sound better than a bishop, doesn't it?

We didn't need much to begin with - four chess sets and we would sit on the floor and play.

The kids were very interested in general, but had their own battles that they were fighting. I would often see them coming to class not in their best of moods! But when they realized that someone was going to come regularly to teach chess every Saturday, they would look forward to it.

The chess class very soon became fun for these kids!

Priyanka, my very good friend and a wonderful chess coach joined in this mission with me to teach the kids at the home

We realized very quickly that what was needed to make the kids grasp chess was a very loving and kind approach. They didn't need discipline in their life. Discipline was there all around. What was needed was someone taking genuine interest in their lives and talking to them with care.

Priyanka's kind and never-give-up on any kid approach was the key reason why the kids started enjoying these sessions

One day I brought the DGT Pegasus, where you could play against an in built engine on the board and the moment it suggests a move, lights come up on the board. The kids were enamoured and wanted to beat the engine!

Sometimes I would sit down with the kids and help them find the moves that can be played on the Pegasus board 

One of the things that greatly helped kids to focus on learning chess was the use of sheets. We had made different sheets teaching different rules of chess. For eg. sheet no.1 was about the basics of chess. Sheet no.2 was how the rook moves, then how the knight moves and so on. By sheet no.12 or 13, they were already learning how to defend, how to attack and eventually went to pin, fork and all these tactics!

Everyone became very focussed once the sheets were introduced

With the sheets, the kids had to be precise with their answers as they had to write them down. They also started discussing and collaborating with each other, which made it very enjoyable to see their growth.

We brought in small ideas like if you finished 10 sheets, we would give you a file where you could keep all the sheets! All the kids wanted that file for themselves.

When the Big Chess Summer camp was held at the ChessBase India Chess Club in the Phoenix Marketcity, Mumbai we got 4 of these kids to visit the camp. Coming outside the home and visiting the mall was a big moment for these youngsters.

While the learning was happening at a good pace, we realized that a tournament would help them greatly understand what chess is all about. It's not just the learning aspect. There is also a sporting element involved and with the time ticking down, and decisions to be made, it can become extremely exciting. That's how the idea of Chess Challenge 2023 was born.

The Chess tournament that was planned - it was called the Chess Challenge 2023

The tournament was held after nearly 6 months of starting our training at the home. This was roughly after 24 sessions!

Posters were put up at the home and the kids naturally got very excited

They did an absolutely brilliant job of decorating the place. This became the tournament hall for the Chess Challenge 2023.

The table and chairs were shifted from their lunch and dinner room specially for this event!

Beautiful medals were designed...

...and also some wonderful trophies. All of these were designed by Abhyudaya Ram.

The focus with which these kids played was tremendous!

The tournament also developed a camaraderie amongst the kids as they all came together after their duels and practiced for their next game! 

Even if you lose the game, you have to shake hands with your opponent. This does imbibe a spirit of sportsmanship!

The closing ceremony was a colourful affair

Rithin won the tournament with a 100% score of 5.0/5

The Lion Lady Auxillary wing of the Uptown Club had sponsored the Chess event and all of them were very happy to take a picture with the eventual winner of the tournament!

The tournament would not have been possible without the efforts of Rohit Sawant and Sagar Thorat from the Catalyst of Social Action (CSA). Rohit takes care of the kids on a daily basis and his love for chess is one of the primary reasons why the kids are improving so rapidly and continue to practice chess on the remainder of the days as well. 

Recently we had our good friend and very famous chess photographer Maria Emelianova visiting the Children's Home. She enjoyed playing against the kids!

Theo Wait, director of operations at Lichess also visited the home and played with a lot of kids! He also gave a lot of positive feedback to the kids.

The problemist at ChessBase India Satanick Mukhuty visited the chess club on one of the Saturday's. He gave a nice position to the kids. 

White to play and mate in 1

This one is slightly tougher, but very beautiful. White to play and mate in 2.

As many of the kids are not so well versed in English, Niklesh Jain's videos on Hindi ChessBase India are proving to be a valuable resource for the young kids to learn the rules and also get better at chess.

The dog always comes and relaxes during the chess class! A truly chess loving creature! :)

Through these 6 months, the kids have not only improved at chess, but also the quality of their lives have gone up quite considerably. I see them more disciplined. But not only that they are more happy and energized during the sessions. While in the first few sessions, it was extremely difficult to teach them things, now they are keen to learn new things. One of the caretakers at the home mentioned that he found the kids becoming more responsible, and taking their personal hygiene much more seriously. I am amazed at what a positive change chess has made in their lives.


It is for this reason that we are launching the Teach Chess India Mission. The idea of the mission is to teach chess across the country in places where it is difficult for people to afford chess learning. This could involve children's homes, orphanages, old age homes, hospitals, prisons, public schools, slums and more.

We would like to spread chess in a big way and if you would like to be a Teach Chess India volunteer, please fill the form below: 

Become a Teach Chess India Volunteer

Currently there is a need for female volunteers to teach at two homes in Panvel and Vasai.

The team of volunteers during the Chess Challenge 2023 tournament - (From left to right): Sagar Shah, Abhyudaya Ram, Yaseen Shaikh, Rahul Ved, Ankush, Vidhi Karelia, Mayur More (arbiter) and Ravindra Potawad.

A huge thanks to my friend Venkat Krishnan (right) who was the first one to introduce us to the children's home

Related news:
HelpChess Foundation raises Rs.54 lakh in 2023-24 for Indian chess

@ 04/07/2024 by Sagar Shah (en)
14 youngsters receive laptops through the ChessBase India YouTube members program

@ 25/06/2024 by Sagar Shah (en)
The Pursue your Chess Scholarship 5 is here with a fund of Rs.1,50,000

@ 09/06/2024 by Sagar Shah (en)
Intellion's Women's day campaign makes use of chess in a creative way

@ 22/03/2024 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
14 laptops to young Indian talents thanks to ChessBase India YouTube members

@ 22/03/2024 by Sagar Shah (en)
HelpChess Foundation: Shreya Hipparagi wins the Tanay Johar Scholarship of Rs. 50,000

@ 27/12/2023 by Avathanshu Bhat (en)
Sarayu, Sahithi and Mrittika get the Sarada Scholarship of Rs.10 lakh

@ 18/11/2023 by Sagar Shah (en)
The HelpChess Fundraiser during FIDE World Cup 2023

@ 06/08/2023 by Sagar Shah (en)
HelpChess Foundation supports Indian chess players to the tune of Rs.26 lakh in 2022-23

@ 25/04/2023 by Sagar Shah (en)
Special Mentorship Program for differently abled chess players

@ 24/03/2023 by Sagar Shah (en)
Sumer Arsh wins the Arjun Erigaisi Death Match 2.0 scholarship of Rs.3,25,000

@ 10/02/2023 by Sagar Shah (en)
Apply for the 4th Pursue your chess scholarship of Rs.1,25,000

@ 11/01/2023 by Sagar Shah (en)
Arpita Mukherjee wins the 1st Mystic Wealth Chess Scholarship 2022-23 of Rs.1,50,000

@ 09/11/2022 by Sagar Shah (en)
Sarayu Velpula gets the YouTube Membership fund for the month of January 2022

@ 26/05/2022 by Sagar Shah (en)
Sadhana App Sponsorship of Rs.4,50,000 to boost the careers of 3 young chess players

@ 11/05/2022 by Sagar Shah (en)
Apply for the 1st Mystic Wealth Scholarship 2022-23 of Rs.1,50,000

@ 07/03/2022 by Sagar Shah (en)
WIM Mounika Akshaya wins the King's Gambit Scholarship of Rs.120,000

@ 11/02/2022 by Sagar Shah (en)
Harikrishnan and Neelash win Pursue your Chess Scholarship-3, get Rs.50,000 each

@ 09/11/2021 by Sagar Shah (en)
Rs.6,18,603 raised for Sanjay's fight against Osteogenesis Imperfecta

@ 05/09/2021 by Sagar Shah (en)
Help 10-year-old chess player Sanjay fight Osteogenesis Imperfecta

@ 28/08/2021 by R. Ananthram and Sagar Shah (en)
Shahil Dey and Aniruddha Potawad win the 2nd Pursue your Chess Scholarship for Rs.75,000

@ 12/05/2020 by Avathanshu Bhat (en)
The boy who attacked Celebral Palsy - Samarth Rao wins the Dennis Kow Scholarship for Rs.51,000

@ 26/03/2019 by Sagar Shah (en)
Vintage Vishy - Why do we call him that?

@ 14/02/2019 by Sagar Shah (en)
Walking a few steps with a future queen

@ 11/02/2019 by Deepan Subbiah (en)
Krishna Prabhakar scholarship for Vishy Anand Camp in Pune

@ 07/02/2019 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
Dennis Kow scholarship of Rs.51,000 for the differently abled

@ 07/12/2018 by Sagar Shah (en)

Contact Us