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Group e4 raises Rs.1.2 crore for Indian chess talents in last 3 years

by Sagar Shah - 06/02/2024

A phone call and then a message on a WhatsApp group is all it took to setup something truly unique in Indian chess - Group e4. A crowd funding initiative started by Satya Prabhakar, the founder of Sulekha.com and Vishy Anand, this group has seen the involvement of over 200 families. How did this come about and how were they able to raise Rs.1.2 crores in the last 3 years? We speak about this story in the article. On 7th of January 2024, the entire group met at the Madras Club. IM Sagar Shah was also present at the venue and tells you all that transpired. 

A beautiful initiative to support budding talents in India - Group e4

When Vishy Anand became part of the Educational committee of Tamil Nadu, Satya Prabhakar, the founder of Sulekha.com called him to congratulate him. While speaking on the call, Anand told Satya Prabhakar about how many of the talented chess players were usually short of funds. And that is how the idea of Group e4 came about. Satya asked Vishy Anand if he could join him and ensure the right talents get the right backing and he will make sure that the funds come in. Vishy Anand and Aruna Anand always being keen to support talented youngsters, agreed to it. What happened next was very interesting. Satya Prabhakar sent a message on one of his WhatsApp group where he was connected to his friends and told them about the initiative of raising funds for chess players. Very soon money started to flow in! That's how Group e4 began - a phone call and then a WhatsApp message!

The forces behind Group e4 - Aruna Anand, Vishy Anand, Sangeeta Kshettry and Satya Prabhakar

Very soon Aarthie Ramaswamy (above) and R.B. Ramesh joined in, who are helping with the young talents being identified for support to be given.

The allocation is done by all five (Anand, Aruna, Satya, Ramesh and Aarthie) taking into consideration multiple factors: their current rating, progress made in the last one year, potential, and need. Here are some of the important things about Group e4 that you should know.

1. Total amount raised: ~ Rs. 1.2 crores in 3 years

2. Total number of families and firm donations: 200 +

3. Players supported: 18

4. Commitment that all donated amount goes 100% to players/parents (For example, the costs for the function held on 7th of January 2024 was not taken from the fund that was raised.)

5. Amounts donated by the donors is not revealed. There is no minimum amount and all are equal.

Players supported by Group e4

One of the biggest stars of Indian chess - Praggnanandhaa has been a beneficiary of Group e4

Talents supported by Group e4 already!

Families and organizations supporting the Group e4 initiative (1)

Families and organizations supporting the Group e4 initiative (2)
An interview with Vishy Anand on Group e4 in January 2023

Interview with the founder of Group e4 - Satya Prabhakar

Interview with Satya Prabhakar, CEO of Promanage and Sulekha and the co-founder of Group e4

Sagar Shah (SS): Satya, what you've managed to put together with Group e4 is simply phenomenal. Did you envision something like this when you initially reached out to your contacts?

Satya Prabhakar (SP): No, I truly did not. I want to emphasize that the roots of this initiative owe a great deal to Vishy Anand and Aruna Anand's significant contributions. The support provided to these young Indian chess prodigies has been remarkable. This past year has been extraordinary for chess, and credit for spotting and nurturing the talents goes to GM R.B. Ramesh a grandmaster herself, for spotting and nurturing this talent. All these kids come from modest economic backgrounds and lack resources for coaching and other necessities. We're grateful that many families and firms have joined us, contributing 1.2 crores to support these kids. Beneficiaries like Grandmaster Pragnananda, Grandmaster Vaishali, and others have shown tremendous progress. We're delighted to have played a role in their success. The overwhelming support from 200 families in 45 cities worldwide is heartening. The credit goes to these contributors and the selectors for this phenomenal success.

 

SS: Can you tell us about the genesis of Group e4? How did it begin?

SP: It began with a phone call I made to Vishy Anand. We're both part of the same clubs. I called to congratulate him on his selection for the educational committee of FIDE. During the conversation, I learned about these world-class young chess players needing support. Many didn't even have laptops to practice on, which deeply affected me. I offered to help, and Vishy agreed to select the players, ensuring credibility for the initiative. Our approach is transparent and equitable, with all funds directly supporting the players. This has been gratifying for the contributors, who can see their support making a tangible impact, like in the Candidates Tournament, where three out of eight players were from India. It's a landmark year for chess in India, and we're thrilled to be part of it.

 

SS: What's your personal connection to chess?

SP: My connection comes from my father, a mathematics professor and an excellent chess player. I learned chess from him and played in leagues in the US. Though I'm not as skilled, I enjoy the game deeply.

Satya Prabhakar with his father Late. Venugopala Rao who inspired his love for chess

SS: Do you think this initiative will continue to grow?

SP: Yes, it will. We aim to educate more families and firms about this cause. The generosity we've seen is heartening, and we don't pressure anyone to contribute. Our goal is to reach a million dollars in the next couple of years, which will significantly impact the players, enabling them to participate in international tournaments without financial hardship.

 

SS: Considering you run a major company like ProManage and Sulekha, how do you find time for this?

SP: It's manageable because it doesn't require a lot of time. The contributors are enthusiastic and grateful to be part of this initiative. The player selection is handled by Vishy Anand, Ramesh, and Aarthi, so my role is primarily organizational. This event energizes everyone involved and highlights India's potential to be a powerhouse in the chess world.

The Group e4 Felicitation on 7th of January 2024

Group e4 consists of the core team of Vishy Anand, Satya Prabhakar, Aruna Anand, Ramesh and Aarthie, the 200+ families who have contributed and the players who have been benefitted through the support. On 7th of January all of them were brought together in a get-together that was held at the iconic Madras Club. Below are a few of the pictures that give you a feel of what happened. At the end of the article you can also see the video of the entire function. Personally for me, it was an absolute pleasure to be present at the event. When I entered the room, I felt so much of the positive energy. The players had a smile on their faces. Yes, the financial support is important but more than that, an opportunity to meet Vishy Anand and also a recognition of their achievements is something quite unique. As all the players were called up on the stage to receive their prizes, everyone cheered in the room. It was a sight to behold.

A very talented youngster of Indian chess - Sneha Halder with her father

Lyndon Mendonca (father of Leon) gets a wonderful opportunity to discuss a few things with Vishy. This was 10 days before the Tata Steel Challengers 2024 began, which Leon went on to win!

Daakshin Arun (second from left) and his entire family were present at the event

Little Charvi, who has made everyone proud with her exploits, with Satya Prabhakar

Winning the Grand Swiss, making it to the Candidates, Vaishali went on to become the 3rd ever female player from the country to become a GM

Aditya Mittal is one of the biggest rising talents in the world of chess. With a rating of 2588 he is ranked 19th in the juniors list.

Vishy Anand with one of the most well-known Tamil directors Nelson Dilipkumar. Recent megahit Jailer featuring Thalaiva Rajnikant was made by him. He is one of the contributors to Group e4. 

Just 15 years of age Aswath is already an IM. He won the silver medal at the Asian Juniors recently.

Aswath's entire family is attached to chess in some way with his sister, mother and father all teaching chess!

Ethan Vaz's mother Linda receives the prize on her son's behalf

Linda with her other son Edrick. Ethan and father Edwin were in Europe playing a tournament!

A huge talent - IM A.R. Ilamparthi is also a beneficiary of Group e4.

Second IM from North East India Mayank Chakraborty is now on his path for trying to become a GM

He had his exams on the next day, but how could he miss the change of meeting Vishy Anand - the extremely strong and talented youngster from Bangalore GM Pranav Anand

He has already crossed 2600 Elo and has been acknowledge by Magnus Carlsen as a real talent in the world of chess - Pranav V.

A boy who has risen from very tough background to become a GM - Pranesh M.

Savitha Shri was in Budapest training with Judit Polgar, so her parents received the award on her behalf

Sneha Halder and her proud father

This event also provided an opportunity for all the donors to meet and interact with each other

A picture with the golden siblings of Indian chess

A picture for posterity!

It's initiatives like Group e4 that power Indian chess. The talents receive support to continue their dreams. When they sit at the board, they know that there are people out there backing them. Hats off to all the people involved in this initative. It is sure to grow even bigger and support more players in the coming days.

Check out the video to get a feel of what transpired on the 7th of January 2024

Related news:
Group e4 - Vishy Anand's initiative to support young talents financially

@ 10/02/2023 by Sagar Shah (en)
A Move with a Heart

@ 21/04/2022 by ChessBase India (en)