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The Chess Academy of My Dream

by Praful Zaveri - 14/02/2023

Praful Zaveri is someone who is relentlessly working towards the growth of chess in Mumbai and India. He is the author of the best-selling book for beginners Chess Course. He is also the organizer of the famous IIFLW chess tournament which has helped many young talents in their career. Staying true to his nature of working on meaningful and chess empowering projects, he has launched the Russian Chess Academy in Mumbai. How did this project come into fruition? Read Praful's story of opening a chess Academy of his dreams.

An avant-garde Chess academy

I have a dream ... so said Martin Luther King Jr on 28th of August, 1963 and it inspired the entire humanity to dream, to believe and to make impossible the possible! I have also been nurturing a dream since 1996 soon after I started my career in chess training - to open a state-of-the-art chess school.

The influential thinker from Ghana, Lailah Akita has rightly said that that divine powers are always at work to help you fulfil your dreams and, a small window to see this dream got opened in the year 2010 when I got a dedicated classroom at Don Bosco High Schools, Borivali. I named it as Vishy Anand Chess Hall – the most famous alumni of this group of schools.

Interiors of the Vishy Anand Chess Hall, at Don Bosco High Schools

The academy signalled a virtual boom in chess activities in this northern suburb of Mumbai with tournaments, training and chess activities galore. This momentum helped me opened my 2nd centre at Don Bosco High School, Matunga – the central suburb of Mumbai – in the year 2021.

The chess centre in Matunga. Do you recognize the pictures in the top?

Sadly, this dream did not last long as we had to give up the Matunga classroom due to school’s expansion and the Borivali class due to covid. In between, we had resumed our activities at the Russian Centre for Science & Culture (Incidentally, the RCSC, who is located in four metros + Thiruvananthapuram had dedicated chess academies at all the 5 places).

The classroom at RCSC was small but we were permitted to conduct tournaments in the small foyer hall as well as the terrace.

Looking back, I feel immensely proud that we were able to hold 3 Grandmasters camps, two FIDE rating tournaments and more than 50 local tournaments in a short span of 3 years from 2017 to 2020 before covid put a brake.

The rating tournament in the year 2017 at the sprawling terrace of RCSC.

The Chessbase India GM camp conducted by the legendary Jacob Aagaard.

The camp of Alon Greenfeld in 2018, which was organized jointly with SMCA.

The simultaneous display by the visiting Grandmaster, Ivan Popov to mark the celebrations to the ‘Day of Moscow’ in October 2019. To the right of GM Popov is Dr. Sergey Fandeev, the then Director of RCSC.

We were able to resume our activities as late as April 2022 at RCSC and this was the month when I put forth my request to the Director of RCSC to provide me with a bigger space. And, the wait was finally over when the Moscow office of RSCS approved my request to provide me with a dedicated chess hall for training and tournaments!

The academy was inaugurated by Dr. Elena Remizova, Director of RCSC along with Mr. Sergey Mescheryakov, Deputy Consul General of Russia in Mumbai.

The brand new Russian Chess academy in Mumbai! Check out this video to see how every little detail is tastefully taken care off. 

The academy size is 1250 square feet to accommodate 100 players and coupled with the foyer hall and the academy room, there will be a space for 200 players to play. The bigger space will allow me to conduct rating & other tournaments and I am confident that it will help benefit Mumbai players.

About the Author

Praful Zaveri is the founder of Indian Chess School and holds the titles of FIDE Instructor (1st FI from India), FIDE Arbiter (FA), FIDE Trainer (FT) & FIDE International Organizer (FIO). He is also the author of The Chess Course – the book which has sold 100,000 copies!


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