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700 people learn Chess at the Big Summer Camp 2023

by Sagar Shah - 26/05/2023

It's a mall located in the busy city of Mumbai. When you enter it, you will find the mall is huge and quite spectacular, but nothing will really alarm you about it. But take the escalator and go to the Lower Ground floor and the Atrium 5 area and you will see something magical happening! What exactly? The Big Chess Summer Camp was held there by ChessBase India and it was one of the biggest chess camps out there. More than 700 people learned chess and got better at the game. And the best part? The camp was free and open to all. How was this done, check out the article to know more.

A chess camp like no other!

A final group selfie at the end of the last day of the Big Chess Summer Camp

This was a chess camp like no other. More than 700 players learned chess at the Big Chess Summer Camp. It was held at the Phoenix Marketcity Mall in Mumbai and organized by ChessBase India. What made this 10-day camp truly unique?

1. It was free of cost and open to players of all ages

2. We used a model of training which involved the use of sheets for different levels. In all there were 32 levels. The curriculum was designed in a way that if someone who didn't know how chess works attended the camp, they would end the camp with the ability to play a good game of chess.

3. It was a self paced camp - which meant that anyone could come any number of days or for any number of hours and learn at his or her own pace.

Sunny Dubey, a volunteer who worked for all of the 10 days at the camp, explaining the concepts to the new students

Surrounded by sheets!

Now in order to make this entire camp work, an extremely key ingredient were the trainers and the volunteers. They were the heart of this camp. The amount of time, energy and dedication that they put in was phenomenal. Volunteers poured in their heart and soul and this enabled so many people to learn chess. We not only had a three-year-old boy who attended the camp, but also 62-year-old grandmom who learnt how to play chess for the first time in her life. And while many of the volunteers applied to be a part of this camp, there were many who finished all the sheets as students and then felt the urge to help others. Among them was 8-year-old Aarish, the youngest volunteer of the camp. The young boy did a phenomenal job of helping others improve at chess.

8-year-old Aarish solved all 32 sheets and then became a volunteer. He was, of course, the youngest volunteer at the camp!

When asked whether he likes to teach chess more or play, he said he would like to become a teacher!

The most dedicated volunteers of the camp received certificates and goodie bags from FI Praful Zaveri, the chief guest of the closing ceremony. From left to right: Aarish Gandhi, Parth Awasare, Ajinkya Katke, Aayush Belekar, Ayush Yadav, Sunny Dubey, Shashank Mokashi.

We had a lot of mothers who came to the camp and worked hard through all the days to learn the game. Many of them didn't know even how the pieces moved, but went back home with a certificate in their hand!

Helping each other to get better!

Prasoon helps his mother Reena to understand the complex topic of Zugzwang...

...Everyone has left but the mother-son duo go on!

Certificates were given to all those who worked hard and finished all the sheets in the camp. Close to 50 people completed all the sheets. FI Praful Zaveri was the chief guest of the day and he gifted his famous book Chess Course to four players who worked with extreme dedication in the camp.

A top view of the premises!

When one looks at the camp from the outside, you would see that there was extreme chaos. There was noise and people were moving from one place to another. How does one learn chess in such an environment? However, on closer inspection you will realize that there are beautiful things happening - people are sharing their knowledge, they are helping each other and there is a free flow of positive energy. It's a place where everyone who comes falls in love with this game. We would often see people coming with some apprehension on their face and after a few minutes could not stop solving one sheet after another! They were hooked.

The calmness in chaos!

We want to take this opportunity to thank Phoenix Marketcity for being such wonderful partners and supporting us in our endeavour to spread this beautiful game of chess. The Big Chess Summer Camp was a huge success and we hope that we will be able to bring this concept of chess all across India and the world. At several points many people came to us at the registration desk and asked, what is the fee for this camp. They couldn't believe it when we said there was no fee for the camp! Well, what can we say? Some things are even more precious than money and the joy of learning and teaching chess is one of them! :)

Pranali works at ChessBase India in the back office. During the camp she helped us with the sheets.

Priyanka taught Pranali and a 62-year-old grandmom the rules of chess!

And there you have it! A new chess player created! :)

Head Coach no.1 of the Camp, Priyanka Ved. She worked extremely hard to build the syllabus. Priyanka has a wonderful way of teaching chess to the beginners! She can teach a 5-year-old as well as a 70-year-old the basics of the game was great ease!

Joining Priyanka in her efforts was Head Coach no.2 of the camp, Nithin Chandan. Nithin teaches calmly and has great patience. He is also a Yoga instructor and much of his poise comes from there it seems!

Coming from Bangalore and playing an integral role in the camp was Rakshit Singh. He helped with creation of sheets, formatting them, training students, coordinating things and much more.

Abhyudaya Ram was the head coordinator of the event!

Ketaki Kulkarni with Priyanka Ved. Ketaki is the illustrator of the ChessPa in Chess Adventure Park book and she was the one made 4 sheets for kids below the age of 4 years!

Avathanshu with his mom Supriya Bhat. Supriya has been instrumental in creating a beautiful environment at the Chess Club. In this camp she worked in the background to ensure that everything works smoothly.

A man whom I look upto, both philosophically as well as in reality! FI Praful Zaveri was the chief guest at the closing ceremony. He is the author of the best selling chess book for beginner "The Chess Course".

His books were gifted to players who showed dedication throughout the camp. These four power women (Clockwise from top left): Suman Sharma, Reena Tyagi, Chetana Parekh and Chandan Shah didn't know the rules before they entered the camp and they finished all the sheets. In order to facilitate their chess learning The Chess Course book was given to them. 

Kavan Shah (left) enjoyed solving the sheets eating popcorn with his father

Kavan started crying when he received the certificate because he had not solved one question in sheet 32!

Naksh Malik is a strong player and he finished all his sheets within couple of days. In order to facilitate his learning further we recommended him to solve from ChessRanga website.

While most of the learning happened through sheets, sometimes we would setup a demo board and one of the trainers or volunteers would show something interesting!

On the last day we had a quiz to test the general knowledge of everyone who attended the camp! Look how hooked everyone was!

These kids came from the nearby area called Kajupada, didn't know chess when they started, but by the end of the camp, were completely in love with the game!

ChessBase India teaches at the Chembur Children's Home. 4 talented youngsters got a chance to visit the chess camp!

They hardly get to go outside the premises of their home, so they were naturally thrilled

They got to play chess with many people and made many new friends!
A small video to show what a memorable day it was for Vikas, Sameer, Subhash and Dinesh.

Do visit the ChessBase India Chess Club in Phoenix Marketcity every Saturday from 5-7 p.m. to be a part of this beautiful chess community in Mumbai.

Videos from the camp:

IM vs 21 opponents!
3-year-old superstar Tivra
Method in chaos

All photos of the camp can be found here

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