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The first ever ChessBase India Chess Club session

by Sagar Shah - 26/03/2022

ChessBase India launched its first ever chess club at the Phoenix Market City in Mumbai. Located in Kurla, Phoenix Market City is one of Mumbai's finest and biggest malls. 50 chess sets were placed for chess enthusiasts from all across the city to come and play over the board! We had close to 300 people visiting the venue making the event a grand success! The idea of the chess club is to create a hub in the city of Mumbai where people can come, learn, enjoy and play a game of chess! Doing it in a mall helps in popularizing the game as well.

Phoenix Market City and Chess

In the Covid-19 lockdown a lot of people found themselves at home trying to figure out how should they spend the time that they had on hand. In such a situation online chess became a natural place to go to! The streaming scene in India had become vibrant thanks to the efforts of Samay Raina, ChessBase India and many chess players including Vidit Gujrathi, B. Adhiban, Anish Giri, Teimour Radjabov, Tania Sachdev, Soumya Swaminathan and many more. The chess fever that started roughly around March 2020 wasn't short-lived. By this time in 2022 the casual interest in chess had developed into hardcore love for many of the people. Playing chess had become a daily ritual and all of these people craved for offline meets where they could play chess over the board. As things started to open up in 2022, we received an email from Gaurav Mistry - the Assistant Marketing Manager of the Phoenix Market City in Kurla, Mumbai. He wrote to us, "Brings me immense pleasure in connecting with you, Thanks for all the chess and chill throughout the lockdown. I work for Phoenix Marketcity Kurla, and would love to offer you space to conduct a major Chess Event. Would love to discuss over the same. "

Phoenix Market City located in Kurla is one of the biggest malls in Mumbai

The mall is very close to the ChessBase India office in Vidyavihar and Amruta and I have always loved the vibe and environment of the place. The Crossword bookstore and the Pizza Hut store inside the mall are some of our favourite go-to places! We were quite thrilled and excited with the thought that Phoenix Marketcity could potentially become a chess hub in the city. We went and met Gaurav and he told us about the possibility to do chess related events in the Atrium 5 area.

Situated at the lower ground floor of the mall, the Atrium 5 area is nicely nestled under two giant mushroom like structures! 

March was being celebrated as women's month in the mall. In order to kick off the chess activities we decided to hold a simul where Amruta played against 20 players.

In her nearly 25 years of playing chess, this was the second time that Amruta was going to give a simul

It's always a special feeling to have your photo displayed in a mall!

The simul proved to be a very positive event where we not only had ChessBase India followers who turned up at the mall from all across the city, but we also had casual visitors to the mall halting by and witnessing the spectacle. For many, watching one person taking on 20 players was quite awe-inspiring. Amruta, who hasn't played professional chess for quite some time, was of course not in the best of her forms, but she fought on and on for nearly 4.30 hours to score 17 points out of 20. She had 15 wins, 4 draws and 1 loss!


Amruta Mokal vs Shalini Hublikar

This is a position from the only game that Amruta lost! Looks unbelievable doesn't it? Well, Amruta played her rook to b7 in this position! When she moved around all the 19 other boards and came back to this one, Shalini jaunted her rook across the board to d1 and announced checkmate! Amruta just couldn't believe what she had done!


Here are a couple of good quality games that were played in the simul by Devin Anand and Akshay Mohan. Akshay was very close to winning but the game ended in a draw.

To get a feel of all that happened in Amruta Mokal's simul, check out this video!

ChessBase India Chess Club

The simul took place on 10th of March and we decided to launch the ChessBase India Chess Club on the 19th of March 2022. What should be the format of the Chess club? When I was young, we had the Ghatkopar Chess Association (GCA) run by my first trainer Mahesh Ved and Praful Shukla. The idea of GCA was simple. You had chess boards, and you had players of differing levels coming and playing against each other. When one game would end, players would go and play with someone else. When I look back at those days I really felt it helped me improve very quickly. I would write my games and then analyze them with my opponent or some friends who were there. Sometimes I would come back home and think about the moves I made. As it was very close to a tournament atmosphere, it also helped in getting players acquainted to what they would face in a tournament. This was the same model we aimed for at the 1st ever ChessBase India Chess Club session.

50 tables and 100 chairs were set up by the Phoenix Market City and the chess club looked so beautiful

The day chosen was Saturday and the timing was 5-7 p.m. Weekends are generally convenient for students as well as people who have jobs. The evening time was generally a time when people get out from their homes and would visit a mall. The 5-7 p.m. timing means that you could enjoy your chess playing time and then club it with a nice dinner with family or friends! We also wanted to decide on a day and time that we could continue with throughout the year. Saturdays 5-7 p.m. looked the best. Although we had announced that the chess club would begin at 5 p.m. we already had people pouring in from 3 p.m. onwards!

By 5 p.m. the entire space was filled to the brim!

An aerial view of the first session of the first ChessBase India Chess Club!

A chess universe! | Photo: Asim Khan

What made the experience truly unique was the fact that there were casual players as well as serious ones. There were youngsters as well as veterans. There were rated players as well as absolute beginners! It was a perfect chess atmosphere where every person present was engrossed in the game! Although the capacity was for roughly around 100 players, we had close to 300 people visiting the venue! And the best part was that everyone got a chance to play a few games, as people would keep jumping from one board to another after every game.

A duel between a father and son!

ChessBase India mods Mayur Gondhalekar and Akshay Mohan visited the club and played a few games!

Many of the players used their mobile phones as a chess clock! Maybe some day we can have a chess clock on every board!

Some nice chess themed t-shirts were on show!

This youngster played very seriously and defeated many opponents!

We loved the fact that both of them used their notebooks and wrote down their moves!

2 vs 1!

My first coach Mahesh Ved gave me a surprise by visiting the venue!

My good friends and children of Mahesh Ved - Rahul and Priyanka played against each other. Both of them are strong players and played against each other after several years!

The uncle was just walking around in the mall and saw the chess club and decided to play a game!

Asim Khan, who helps us with the photos and coverage during our Saturday events as well as making of reels on ChessBase India Instagram, also played a couple of games!

There were many people who came wearing the ChessBase India t-shirts!

I also played a few games, one of them was against a talented youngster named Arvind Iyer! Check out the game below along with the analysis:
Arvind Iyer (1731) vs IM Sagar Shah, commentary by Sagar

It was so nice to have all the chess lovers in one place...

So many of them!

The idea of the ChessBase India Chess Club is to provide a wholesome atmosphere for people to come and play against each other. This will definitely help them to improve their game. Along with it we want people to come, socialize and just enjoy a fun game of chess. Already in the first session we had so many strong FIDE rated players who came and played. In future we hope to have IMs and GMs who can visit and guide the players. Simultaneous exhibitions will be a regular feature of chess at Phoenix Market City. Yes, there are a lot of plans, but we take it step by step! For now, it is Every Saturday - 5 to 7 p.m. The vision of ChessBase India has always been to make chess the most popular sport in the country and this we believe is a step in the right direction. The club is free for everyone to come and play chess.

A picture with the man who made it possible - Gaurav Mistry, Assistant Marketing Manager at Phoenix Market City. A special thanks to the entire team at Phoenix Market City and Gaurav for making the ChessBase India Chess Club a reality and powering the chess culture of India!

Supriya Bhat, the head of sales and marketing at ChessBase India, played a vital role for the start of the ChessBase India Chess Club.

She was ably assisted by Yaseen and Yusuf Sheikh, who work at ChessBase India

The 2nd session will take place on 26th of March 2022 from 5-7 p.m. Do join in! We will be doing this every Saturday.

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