What started as a pass-time for Apaar Saxena is now a serious sport, with him devoting three to four hours every day to chess. Apaar, 7, made his first move a year ago when his mother had handed over a smart phone to beat his boredom at the New Delhi airport. A year later, the first move made on the online chessboard has helped him bag the Bronze award at a national chess-meet and qualify for the 2020 world championship, which was organized Global Chess Foundation and Bengal Chess Association held from 1-6 June 2019. More than 300 children took part in the six-day tournament and top six performers, three each in the open (girls and boys) and girls’ category, were qualified for the World Cadet Chess Championship of the World Chess Federation.
Making an early start on the checkered board, Apaar started attending multiple tournaments in the year 2018 in places like Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Kolkata, etc. where he began representing Karnataka on National levels. Realizing the immense interest and potential shown by Apaar, he joined professional coaching where he began nurturing his skills and interests. “When Apaar started off, he would play the game on the tab without understanding much. Without much professional coaching he won a few tournaments and that’s when we realized that he should be playing more seriously,” said his mother, Ruchi Saxena.
“At a Parents-Teachers meet, Apaar’s parents had requested for our support during his tournament days and we were more than ecstatic to support Apaar’s interests. Children do very well with constant support and encouragement and as a school we prepare our students to balance academics with their interests”, says Hema Chennupaty, Principal of Oakridge, one of the best IB school in Bengaluru.
Apaar’s FIDE Global Rating Point is 1152, which is India’s 3rd rank for his age group. Understanding his potential, he is aiming to compete in many tournaments with targeted preparation with his coach, to increase his Global Ranking and then appear for World Championship which will be held in Georgia. “He started chess as a mode to kill time online or on video games. While the children are trained under coaches, parents also undergo coaching and counselling tips, where are educated about how huge the environment of chess really is. Apaar’s involvement in these tournaments did take away a few of his academic classes at the school, but his class teacher and the principal at Oakridge were highly supportive throughout and made the entire journey smoother than expected”, explains Prashant Saxena, Apaar’s father.
“Starting off young helps, as coaches get time to groom the children and the players have both the time and motivation to become world champions,” said Atanu Lahiri, the secretary of Bengal Chess Association and Asia representative of the World Chess Federation’s education wing.