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Apply for the 4th Pursue your chess scholarship of Rs.1,25,000

by Sagar Shah - 11/01/2023

The longest standing chess scholarship of the HelpChess Foundation - Pursue your chess is back. It's the 4th continuous year of this scholarship and each year the person behind it - Ashwin Subramanian, has increased its amount by Rs.25,000. The scholarship amount for this year has reached Rs.1,25,000 per year. The scholarship will start from the 1st of February 2023 and the last date to apply for it is 25th of January 2023. In this article you get to know about the first three scholarships, who won them, how has been their progress, how to apply for this years scholarship and you also get more information about Ashwin Subramanian, who has always been quietly working behind the scenes powering chess in India.

When we began with HelpChess (ChessBase India Foundation) it was not at all easy to find contributors. One of the first scholarships that we instituted was "Pursue your Chess" on 5th of September 2018. It happened thanks to the kind and thoughful gesture by Ashwin Subramanian. He didn't know us at ChessBase India so well back then as he knows us today, but he decided to trust the vision of the HelpChess Foundation and instituted the "Pursue Your Chess" Scholarship with an amount of Rs.50,000. At that point while we launched the scholarship, Ashwin said, "Basically I would like to ensure talented players don’t quit pursuing their chess goals for lack of money or funds to play in tournaments or study material or world class coaching etc." He called it the "Pursue your chess" scholarship because in his own case he couldn’t afford money for books or coaching or travel for tournaments when he wanted to and had to quit to pursue other career goals. Ashwin recounts, "One personal story is that when I wanted to buy a book on 2 Kasparov Karpov matches - it was Rs 35 and my mother/grandpa both refused saying it was very expensive. This was in 1991. My aunt lent me money and I clandestinely went to the store and bought it. That was my last book until I started earning myself! This was when I was in 9th std. So yes! “Pursue Your Chess” is what I’d like to enable!"

That's Ashwin Subramanian - the man behind the Pursue your chess scholarship.

And Ashwin has kept up his word. In 2018-19, the scholarship amount was Rs.50,000. In 2019-20 for the 2nd year of the scholarship he increased it to Rs.75,000. In 2020-21, for the third year he increased it to Rs.1,00,000. And now for 4th edition for 2022-23, the amount is Rs.1,25,000. We asked Ashwin, what is it that keeps him going? To which he replied, "My goal is very simple - I truly admire the passion, courage and commitment that aspiring chess professionals demonstrate in pursuing their chess career and want to do my bit to support them as I understand it’s very demanding financially for them and their families! Thanks for your wonderful HelpChess platform for the opportunity to do so!" Increasing the scholarship by Rs.25,000 each year is an amazing gesture. "My capacity to contribute went up and hence decided to increase the scholarship amount as well to offer greater support!" is Ashwin's straightforward answer.

The first pursue your chess scholarship of Rs.50,000 went to Sammed Shete, who had a rating of 2368 and 1 IM norm. The boy went on to become an IM at the end of the year.

Sammed Shete: "Pursue your chess scholarship 2018-19 really helped me to become an IM. When the scholarship began in December 2018, I had an Elo of 2368 and 1 IM norm. When the scholarship ended in December 2019, I had an Elo of 2398 and had completed all my IM norms and had become an IM!"

The second pursue your chess scholarship went to Shahil Dey (Rs.50,000). He had a live rating of 2376 and managed to complete his IM title at the end of the scholarship period. Aniruddha Potawad (Elo 1914) received Rs.25,000 and he worked for the first time ever with a grandmaster. GM Vishnu Prasanna trained him and that helped him a lot in his chess career.

Mithu Dey (mother of Shahil Dey): The scholarship which Shahil received from ChessBase India Foundation was used in his coaching with Roktim sir. It was a helping hand which push us and made us believe that we can go and continue our journey. The biggest satisfaction was not just money but also the recognition that he was selected as a winner of the scholarship based on his past performances. I would like to thank Mr. Ashwin Subramanian for his kind support."

 

Ravindra Potawad (father of Anirudhha Potawad): The sponsorship amount was used to train with GM Vishnu Prasanna. Until this point Anirudh had never received personal coaching. During this period, Anirudhha has learned many new things. Vishnu Sir taught him how to work on his weak parts. Vishnu sir explained him how to work on chess in upcoming time and assured him to ask doubts whenever needed. A big Thank you to Ashwin Sir for such a huge help.

Anirudhha has been taking part in the ChessBase India 4th Saturday tournaments at the Phoenix Market City mall in Mumbai and has won the 2nd and 3rd edition. I met him on one of the days and asked him how he was doing. He replied, "Ashwin sir recently sent me six months of premium membership of ChessMood so that I can continue practicing." This was after a year of Pursue your scholarship! This just goes to show how much Ashwin thinks about the players he helps and is a constant support to them even after their scholarship period has ended.

The third pursue your chess scholarship went to IM Harikrishnan A.Ra and IM Neelash Saha.

Harikrishnan bought a new laptop with the funds and worked on his chess with it

Harikrishnan A.Ra: The scholarship helped me get a good laptop which aided me tremendously to prepare for strong events. I was really close in getting GM norms twice in this year and missed it. I hope I would do much better in this year 2023.

Neelash Saha had a very good year in 2022 winning quite a few events and he also reached a career high Elo of 2474 in that period.

4th Pursue your chess scholarship

We are now launching the 4th Pursue your chess scholarship with an amount of Rs.1,25,000. The deserving player who will be selected for the scholarship will get Rs.15,000 in the first month (February 2023) and Rs.10,000 on the first of every month for the remaining 11 months. This scholarship will begin from the 1st of February and the beneficiary's account will be credited on the first of every month with the scholarship amount. The last date to apply for the scholarship is 25th of January 2023.

Please note: If the players need is for more funds to be sent immediately, an exception can be made.

 

Who can apply?

1. Any Indian chess player. There is no age limit.

2. Should be in need of funds

3. Should have achieved some substantial results in the chess world

4. Wants to pursue chess aggressively over the course of the next year

All those who are interested in the scholarship must fill this form and submit before 25th of January 2023

Message from Ashwin for all those who would like to fill in the form: "It takes a lot of courage and conviction to pursue passions outside the “mainstream” so I truly admire you for doing so! Keep setting big audacious goals and pursue them relentlessly!"

Know Ashwin Subramanian better

This is the picture of the first time I met Ashwin at the Akshayakalpa Bangalore State Championships 2018. He had come to the venue with his family and he had asked me for some advice on how to get better. I gave him this position to solve. 

Training position

Black to play. Find the best move.

This position is taken from one of my favourite books - Practical Chess Defence by Jacob Aagaard. Black is a pawn up but is struggling because there is a lot of pressure on his kingside. The white queen is ready to join, the rook can swing over the third rank. It can all get really messy. However, Black has a very clean solution. You begin with ...Nxg4! and the neat point is that after Bxe7 you play the classy move Qc7! attacking the e7 bishop and also the pawn on h2. Black has simplified the position successfully and maintains a clear advantage.

Ashwin with Frederic Friedel (the co-founder of ChessBase) and one of India's finest women players R. Vaishali at the Microsense Kramnik Gelfand training camp that was held in Chennai

A picture that is extremely special for any chess fan - with the great Boris Gelfand and Vladimir Kramnik. Ashwin remembers this fondly, "Being at the 2020 Chennai Chess camp (for prodigious Indian chess players) for a few days with chess legends Boris Gelfand and Kramnik was very special to me as Frederic Friedel had asked me to build a Chess server for use at the camp and also visit to meet them!"

Ashwin with his family - Aruna and Anjana travelling in the Mumbai local train.

 

One of the most lovable families we have met

At the famous Elephanta caves in Mumbai. Ashwin, Aruna and Anjana with Shikhar Saxena (in yellow t-shirt). Shikhar has been instrumental in building the HelpChess website.

Ashwin with Judit Polgar and her parents Laszlo and Klara

Ashwin with the world class chess photographer David Llada at the World Championship Match 2021

With IM V. Saravanan at the very recently concluded Tata Steel Chess India

Apart from contributing financially, Ashwin has helped many chess players with their technology related questions so that they can make the right choices (Laptops, Streaming, Speedify etc.). Ashwin mentions, "I really love tech and chess. So, being able to help chess players with their tech needs is a huge privilege I truly enjoy! Ashwin is also an avid photographer. "Starting 2018 Tata Steel India event at Kolkata, I’ve been able to do photography at a few amazing chess events (TS 2018/2019/2021, Anish-Vidit death match, and 2022 Chess Olympiad, WACA event and COTB + Arjun vs Gukesh Death Match) - thanks to you, Amruta, Jeroen and David Llada for your confidence in me and providing me these amazing chess photography opportunities!"

Ashwin as a speaker at Judit Polgar's Global Chess Festival
"Play Chess, become a leader!"
My experiments with Biofeedback in chess

Ashwin is someone who has been working in the field of biofeedback in chess since 2018. He has done quite a bit of research on how to enable heart rate monitoring during the event. Thanks to his expertise, we were able to apply the heart-rate monitoring in three events that were streamed on ChessBase India - Death Match 1.0, Death Match 2.0 and Tata Steel Chess India 2022.

We call Ashwin now the "Heartrate guy" in chess!

Regarding the Global Chess Festival, Ashwin mentions, "I’ve had the tremendous opportunity to participate and contribute to the Global Chess Festival and Judit Polgar’s Chess Foundation! I’ve attended this festival 5 times now (2017, 2018, 2019, 2021 and 2022) - in 2019 we created a Indian Classical chess song / dance as part of the festivals opening ceremony - the song was written by Niklesh Jain, sung by my wife Aruna, my daughter Anjana danced for it and I did the background video so it was a wonderful family project for us! In 2021, I gave a talk on Biofeedback in Chess at the festival based on my own personal experiments with heart rate monitoring and eye tracking with chess.

What a beautiful chess song!

When the Indian team was struggling with internet connection during the Online Chess Olympiad 2020 Ashwin was the one who suggested to Vidit (India's captain) to use Speedify for Internet connection. And being able to suggest (to Vidit) and help the Indian Chess Olympiad team with Speedify for Internet connection redundancy during the 2020 Online Olympiad was super special! Says Ashwin, "It was an amazing moment for all of us and a huge relief personally when Speedify logs indicated that we had not disconnected but it was cloud servers hosting chessdotcom that had gone down, resulting in India winning Gold along with Russia!"

 

What has been Ashwin's biggest inspiration for Philanthropy? "My philanthropy is greatly inspired by what I’ve seen in my family (“giving” was always a priority!) growing up, a talk by author Harv Eker and a book by Vishen Lakhani titled “The Code of the Extraordinary Mind” - while I’ve always contributed in many ways, reading the book inspired me to focus and channelise it in a structured manner for maximum impact.

In case you have missed the link to apply for the 4th Pursue your chess scholarship

Important links:

1st Pursue your chess scholarship application

Winners of 1st Pursue your Chess scholarship announced

2nd Pursue your chess scholarship application

Winners of 2nd Pursue your Chess scholarship announced

3rd Pursue your chess scholarship application

Winners of 3rd Pursue your Chess scholarship announced

How can you contribute towards the growth of Indian chess?

ChessBase India started its foundation to help chess players back in 2018. Now it is a Charitable Trust with 80G registration and CSR registration (CSR00016763.) So if you do decide to contribute towards the foundation, you would not only be supporting chess talents to fulfil their dreams, but you will also receive the tax benefits. In 2022, we launched the HelpChess website, to ensure ease of transfer of funds for the donors and also for transparency. You can check out the website and decide to become a "Believer" or a "Big Believer" based on your ability to support. In case you would like to institute a scholarship, you can write to us at chessbaseindia@gmail.com.


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