My Chess Journey: Paying It Forward with Chess

By Shrey Gandhi

January 14, 2016

I am a US Chess member. I have enjoyed playing chess and the past few months received the privilege to learn playing chess from Mr. Barber. Seeing his passion for chess and wanting to teach chess has truly inspired me. The last three birthdays, I decided to not accept any gifts or presents from friends and family, but instead I requested they give me a check or cash. Instead, I donate to a charity organization called Sewa Rural in rural India to help serve the under-privileged.

I decided to do something special for my 10th birthday. I decided to play and teach chess to the physically handicapped and under privileged kids in India. During my visit to Ahmedabad, India this last summer, I visited a place called Pearl School for the Disabled. The school admits kids and makes them think that they are capable of doing anything.

I went to talk with some teachers at the school. After that, one of the teachers took me to the class to play chess with one of the students. When I reached the classroom, I asked, “Does anybody want to play chess?” Only one person named Nilesh raised his hand.  I taught him that you are supposed to shake hands at the beginning of a game and at the ending of a game. Then, we started playing a game.

I thought he was pretty good although I won the first two games we played. I observed in the third game that he was skilled at the opening, but weak in the endgame.

While everybody gathered around Nilesh to watch us play, I quickly finished the game and then taught the other people how to play chess. Two of the people started playing chess after we finished and I guided them while they were playing. I had a lot of fun, I hope to go there again, and had an incredible and stupendous time. When I left the school, I donated chess sets that Mr. Barber had given me.

I also went to a place called Sewa Rural where they have a charity hospital to serve the medical needs of poor people and played two games of chess. In addition, we decided to have some fun so we played a couple of games of suicide chess, a game in which you have to lose your pieces instead of winning them.

The third place I visited was called Apang Manav Mandar. In this place they have an all-day hostel for kids who have diseases, are disabled and sent to this place when their families are not able to care for them. Since the kids understood only the local language (Gujarati), I had to first learn what the pieces were called in their local language. I played and explained some chess moves in their language so they could understand. I played with two people and then when they had a chance to checkmate, I asked if they could recognize it. Having enjoyed playing and teaching chess, I also went to the same place again the next day. I played with four students, two of whom were very good and they actually beat me. After this, the two students who had beaten me played each other and the person who won received a magnetic chess set.

We took a picture of me and the winner holding the magnetic chess set and then I said good-bye to the fourteen people who had been there to play chess and I hope to go there again and play new people. I hope more and more people learn chess so that I can share the game with them. We donated multiple chess sets here as well. Teaching chess to others not only taught me to play better, but has increased my respect for the game. It has given me an immense joy of helping somebody else to learn the value of the game.