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ChessBase India turns 8 years old

by Sagar Shah - 19/01/2024

On 18th of January 2024, ChessBase India turned 8 years old. What is it that ChessBase India does? What are its core businesses, we have been asked this by a lot of people. And our answer has been - we are into anything and everything that helps an Indian chess player. In this article you get to know some of they keys projects we did in last one year and what do each of the key team members of ChessBase India think about the previous year.  

ChessBase India turned 8 years old on 18th of January 2024. For both Amruta and me this is a surreal feeling. From sitting in a small room where we were debating on what the name of the company would be on incorporation, to now ChessBase India growing into an organization with 21 team members and a reach of close to 3 million people! In the last one year we produced close to 3000+ videos and 1200+ articles in English and Hindi! 

ChessBase India as a project has been a very personal one for both Amruta and me. Over the years it has helped us evolve into better individuals. On 18th of January each year we look back upon the year that has gone by and see the work we have done. For example: year 2 in 2018, year 3 in 2019, year 5 in 2021, year 6 in 2022, year 7 in 2023.


For ChessBase India the role of team is growing. The number of projects done by our team members in growing. And hence this year you will see that each of the key people in the company has shared their thoughts on the year passed by. For now let me share with you a list of projects that we were quite proud that we managed to pull it off in the last 1 year.

The ChessBase India Studio

An extremely interesting project that we embarked upon in 2023 was making the ChessBase India studio from where we could record our video courses. Gukesh was kind enough to trust us when we began and he got the project started. In the last one year we worked on 5 video courses: Attack with Gukesh, Calculation with Vidit Gujrathi, 2 volumes of rook endgames with Surya Ganguly and the anatomy of mistakes with GM Vishnu Prasanna. Four out of these five courses have been released. Thanks to the studio we also rented a ChessBase India Apartment where we had guests coming in from all across the globe to spend time. The studio and the apartment both added a lot of value to the activities we are doing and we will continue the work in 2024 as well.

ChessRanga - an interactive chess learning platform

Chess improvement is a subject that is very close to my heart. ChessRanga has taken a long time to come together as a platform, but slowly and steadily we do feel that we are on the right track. More courses, much better features will come in 2024 as Adarsh continues his work in this direction. We hope that step by step it becomes an important resource in the world of chess!

Chennai Grand Masters 2023

With all the growth of Indian chess, if there was one thing missing in Indian chess, it was a classical super tournament. The Chennai Grand Masters, which we organized jointly with MGD1 and NODWIN Gaming filled this gap. With a rating average of 2711, the event was made possible because of the support given by the Tamil Nadu Government. I am quite hopeful that thanks to this tournament, India will have more super tournaments in the year 2024.

The HelpChess Foundation

The HelpChess Foundation has been growing strength to strength. The previous year ending 31st March 2023 we managed to raise Rs.26 lakh for Indian chess. This year we have already raised more than that amount and helped  a lot of young talents. A detailed report will be written after the 31st March to show transparently all the funds that have to raised and utilized. But here I would like to mention that the HelpChess Foundation with its dedicated website is becoming a huge asset to Indian chess.

Teach Chess India

Currently we teach chess in a childrens home in Mumbai and are seeing massive benefits of how chess is impacting the young boys. We are hoping that we can spread the joy of chess teaching and learning on a big scale with our Teach Chess India mission! We launched this in 2023 and hope to see it grow in 2024.

The Big Chess Camps

If you asked me what is that one word that comes to my mind with regards to the Big Chess Summer and Winter Camps - it has to be "Abundance". More than 1200 people learned chess in both these camps. The camps were completely free, the trainers, volunteers, organizers and students all gave their time with a smile on their face. If you ever visit a big chess camp, you will get the feeling of a very positive vibe. A big thanks to Priyanka Ved and Nithin Chandan and all the trainers/volunteers for believing in this idea and giving their all.

Team Members:

ChessBase India team is growing all the time and we are now up to 21 team members. We also have a lot of freelancers and contributors with whom we interact on a regular basis. Below are the thoughts of a few of the team members about how the last year went for them.

Supriya Bhat

Supriya handles everything on the backend of ChessBase India. Right from finances, to operations, to events! She is the lifeline of the company. And in 2023 she shifted to New Zealand! Below Supriya writes about her experience of working from Down Under!

"What a dramatic year it has been! Leaving the country and my beloved people, enjoying the beautiful life here yet missing my amazing workplace and not being there physically, missing some major milestones yet staying connected everyday! It truly is an oxymoronic life!


Could I have done a better job with the HelpChess Foundation if I had been there? Wouldn’t I have celebrated the numerous crazy events at the chess club if I were present there? How much would I have been joyously involved in the Super GM Tournament in Chennai? I couldn't be there when 7000+ new books arrived. I wasn't there when the ChessPa activity book launched. I haven’t touched those signed balance sheets! How could I forget, I haven’t had the cutting chai and Bhau Vada pav with my team in forever!


I haven’t had Pav Bhaji at Amruta and Sagar's house and chatted past midnight for months!  Choosing my life in one of the farther countries but staying determined to be with CBI no matter what it may take is one of the best decisions I have ever made. I could have quit but I chose to stay with my beautiful CBI family and I wasn’t wrong! After all it is 7+ years of bonding. It wasn’t easy to look after this little kid from offshore whom we have nurtured for so long. It was challenging yet fun, it was stressful yet peaceful, it was tough yet satisfying!  Thanks to my team for bearing with my strict instructions, some delays, midnight messaging, and unanswered calls. I think we did pretty well!  Also, to all the people out there, I'm sorry  I could not reach you back many times; time zones are befuddling! Now that I have settled, things can only improve from here! Wish you my beloved ChessBase India a very Happy birthday!"

Niklesh Jain

Niklesh Jain is the voice of Indian chess in Hindi. He works around the clock to provide high quality hindi content to all the chess enthusiasts. Not only that, he is working extremely hard to promote chess in his city of Bhopal and the entire north India.

"Today is the eighth birthday of ChessBase India. In the world of chess, in these eight years, ChessBase has brought this game of eight files and eight ranks to chess lovers from all over the world day and night with full dedication, sincerity and truth. Personally I am proud that I am a part of this team and as far as I remember, I was probably one of the first people to join, which makes me proud of my selection. Here I don't think it is wrong to feel a little arrogant! :)


On September 02, 2016, I wrote my first Hindi article and since then it has been going on continuously. Many achievements have been special in the last year. It was special to write about the achievements of the new young generation of India, making Gukesh India's number one player, Praggnanandhaa's amazing World Cup, Vidit's transformation and him and Vaishali winning the FIDE Grand Swiss, five Indian players winning Candidates was special and also feeling the thrill of World Rapid and Blitz at the end of the year was amazing.


Last year I won a total of 260 articles, made 270 videos, made about 20 live telecasts and 20 shorts. Covering the Sharjah Masters in person was very special. The aim will be to do more and more work in the coming year. Apart from all this, the launch of ChessBase India Academy in Bhopal was a special moment. We organized 3 camps this year, along with this, the biggest moment was the launch of Khelo Chess India campaign with the aim of creating 1000 chess players in Bhopal with which we organized 3 school seminars. and a total of 24 tournaments throughout the year.


During this period, we also distributed prize money of about Rs 2.5 lakh in Youth Tournament, Sunday Masters, Blitz and Rapid Tournament. I am excited to cover big events like the Candidates and the Chess Olympiad in the coming year. Happy Birthday ChessBase India, lots of love, thanks Sagar, Amruta and the entire team, keep moving forward and shining the light of chess to the world."

Shahid Ahmed

Mr. Consistent! That would be the perfect nickname for Shahid Ahmed. The man behind the ChessBase India newspage. Shahid writes close to 3 articles each day and makes sure that every player who performs well in Indian chess is featured on the ChessBase India website. His hard work keeps the soul of our coverage alive - the players.

"I would say out of 26+ years being associated in chess in some capacity, nearly 6+ years as a full timer out of 8 years of ChessBase India, last year 2023 was the most special one. I have been a player, coach, teacher, organizer, promoter, manager, almost every possible role, one can imagine, yet the one I enjoy the most is my current one. The freedom of writing, interviewing, interacting with players, organizers, officials, parents, accompanying persons, from people all over the world, I enjoy it most. I do not know how many people actually appreciate what I do, I am sure there are plenty who like, and some may dislike the mistakes I make but hey I am a human being, keeping the newspage running 365 days is not an easy task, especially last year since I have been on the road for 85 out of 365 days, still we managed to have 1070 articles in 2023 itself which is roughly 3 articles per day.


The highlight of 2023 was to cover FIDE World Cup 2023, interview Carlsen twice, Vishy Anand once and a lot of other players for the first time in my life - Vasyl Ivanchuk, Anna Muzychuk, Leinier-Dominguez Perez and a lot more. World Cup is something I am following since 2013. Although I remember 2015 vividly more as Peter Svidler was 2-0 up and then went on to lose it. Few days before I was asked by Sagar if I wanted to go, I told a friend that this year I don't think I am going to go to World Cup but I will keep working, maybe in 2025 or 2027, I will attend. Little did I know, that I was going to go on my longest trip of my life 30 days in Baku, Azerbaijan. The Azeri people were very nice, I loved the local food and exploring the city. I liked it so much and kept telling everyone who would listen about my experiences. Within the next four months I was back in Azerbaijan for the 9th Gashimov Memorial.


Gashimov Memorial was an unforgettable experience. Despite being afraid of cold, I decided that I must go. It was a good decision as I had a fantastic experience, even better than my previous trip in the same country. The bus journey from Baku to Gabala with Gelfand, Vidit, Arjun, Jorden, Rapport and Radjabov along with organizing team was amazing. Maybe someday I will write about it if I ever decide to write a book. There only I got to know about a train to Samarkand from Tashkent. Oh btw, before going to Gashimov Memorial, guess what was the last destination on an airport gate I saw in Delhi? Tashkent. Well, little did I know that my long desire to attend a World Rapid and Blitz 2023 finally came true. I took a lot of risk and it was the most uncertain journey for me. Why? That's a story for another day. Once again I relied on my hunch, took a leap of faith and it paid off. Sometimes in life you have to trust your instinct, of course it should be based on how many times you have been correct before.


Okay I wrote a lot. Hopefully this year, I get to explore some more new places and travel a lot more as it is a leap year and we all have an extra day :)"

Abhyudaya Ram

Abhyudaya Ram has played a key role is making chess more enticing and exciting with his impeccable editing skills. Be it creation of thumbnails or making of reels or just about any endeavour, you can bank on him to do it in the most elegant way.

2023! Wow, it's a very special year for me with many firsts. I covered the FIDE Women's Grand Prix solo for the first time in Delhi. Then, I moved to Mumbai to the ChessBase India apartment, which was a huge move for me, living alone in a different state and city altogether. We had our first Big chess summer camp, where I was the head coordinator, and we successfully pulled it off. Next, I covered my first international tournament in Dubai, which was my first international trip for the Global Chess League. I had the privilege to meet many important people there and also experienced skydiving for the first time, stepping out of my comfort zone. After that, we had the Qatar Masters, my next international tournament, providing a whole new experience. I was able to interview many players, something I hadn't done before.


Also, there were some new records for the ChessBase India Instagram – three reels crossed over one million likes, and social media activity surged, crossing 200k followers. Next, I was part of the Chennai Grandmasters 2023 organizing team, India's strongest and first super tournament. We successfully pulled it off in a short time, and it was such a successful event. I learned a lot about organizing a chess tournament. Gukesh won that tournament and eventually made it to the Candidates. Immediately after the Chennai Grandmasters was the World Rapid and Blitz tournament in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. The ChessBase India team was present to cover the tournament. One of my favorite moments was meeting Magnus Carlsen after he won both world titles and taking a selfie with him after he gave an interview to ChessBase India.


All in all, it was a huge year in terms of my career and personal life – moving to a new city, three international trips, meeting many new people. 2023 was memorable, and I'm looking forward to an even better year in 2024! Thanks to ChessBase India for providing me with new experiences.

Aditya Sur Roy

Moving from one tournament to the next, Aditya Sur Roy is the man behind the on-ground coverage of ChessBase India. He recently got married and has had to shift homes and face many personal challenges. But none of that has come in between his work for the coverage of chess. Even as we write this, he is in Bangalore covering the Bangalore GM Open 2024.

"Many people in the world have two birthdays, the actual one and a legal one. I also have two! One is the day I was born and the second one being when I met Sagar and Amruta - 5th December 2021. I can easily say that this day changed the course of my life and gave it a completely new meaning. You rarely meet people like Sagar and Amruta. Their work ethic and energy is contagious. Their vision is way ahead of what I could imagine and thus there was always a thought if I would ever get a chance to work with the power duo. I joined ChessBase India on the 1st of February, 2022 and I was at a difficult crossroad of my life when I took the decision. I had no idea about coverage, no experience of playing a chess tournament and most importantly no special skills to be able to fit the role. I had my doubts. And just like that two years have passed by and I have probably lived the best two years of my life.


As we are celebrating the eighth anniversary, let’s talk about 2023. I started with some National tournaments - National Schools, National Teams, National Rapid and Blitz which are always exciting to cover. In the month of March, I got the chance to cover a very nice tournament - The Capablanca Chess Festival. And after that it was time for a series of major events- Satty Zhuldyz in Astana followed by my second world championship coverage - this time the Nepo vs Ding Liren match in Kazakhstan. Then Sharjah Masters, Al Ain Spring Festival, Dubai Open and Abu Dhabi Masters. A special note of thanks to Abu Dhabi Chess Festival to call me on the stage and handing over a memento. Global Chess League was another fun tournament to cover. A surprise tournament was the Alef Super Stars. I liked the format a lot.


Though professionally everything was going great but there were multiple personal hurdles which I had to tackle simultaneously but everything eventually worked out. There were also other tournaments where I had the opportunity to cover- SLAN International, 1st Bishan Singh Ji Memorial Chess Tournament, Delhi Open etc. And finally the cherry on the cake, the epic finale of the year was the World Rapid and Blitz. It was my ultimate wish to get a chance to cover the event and boy we did. Right from the lineup, the venue, the location, the climate, the mood, everything was just perfect for the tournament. And the tournament ended on the greatest note possible of getting to spend some time with Magnus Carlsen. A fantastic year indeed. I am glad to be a part of an amazing team and already looking forward to 2024."

Adarsh Bhadauria

Adarsh has come to ChessBase India with an aim to stabilize the tech. We have many ambitious projects - one of them being ChessRanga and Adarsh's presence has ensured that this dreams, don't just remain dreams but actually become reality.

"I am the newest addition to this team, and it’s already been an amazing journey so far. Everyone at ChessBase India has a lot of passion for chess, and after talking to anyone in the team, you realize how much chess is involved in their day-to-day life. Specifically, Sagar and Amruta, I've never seen them take a rest; they are working all the time to create content, manage the team, and make sure that everyone is trying to do their best - maybe that’s the reason ChessBase India has reached where it is right now.


I am one of those people who was totally engaged in watching what Sagar and Samay brought to the chess world during COVID and learned everything from them, from learning chess fundamentals to watching team India become Joint Winners at the Chess Olympiad 2022! It was all a thrilling experience served with a lot of humor and excitement. I was as hyped as I have ever been watching football/cricket finals. And now, it's a privilege to be a part of this.


I am taking care of everything “tech” at ChessBase India, and I am excited about what’s to come next. We have been putting our everything to make sure the products we build will bring chess to a lot more people in a structured way and make it easier for everyone to follow or get started learning chess. Here's to eight years of passion, growth, and consistency! May the next chapters of our story be filled with even more eminent success, learning, and the joy of sharing the beauty of chess with the world. Happy Birthday to us, the warriors of chess content excellence!"

Himank Ghosh

If you enjoy ChessBase India's content on its social media, you must thank Himank Ghosh. Himank's ability to consume information and keep himself updated with all the things happening across the globe related to chess makes him a perfect person to handle the ChessBase India's Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and he does an impeccable job at it.

"2023 was a very special year for chess I feel, and also for ChessBase India. I started working in ChessBase India in June 2022, so by all means 2023 is the year I learnt a number of things working with our amazing team! On a personal note, I also had a big life event in 2023 - I graduated college!


Coming to chess, the past year was the year of flagship events I felt. Even if we keep the top events which happen every year like Tata Steel Chess, Norway Chess, Sinquefield Cup away, there were so many new events introduced this year! Starting from the WR Masters, FIDE World Cup (not new, but this is my most favorite event which happens once in two years!), Global Chess League, World Rapid Team Championships, the return of Qatar Masters, Levitov Chess, and of course, the first Super-GM event in India organized by ChessBase India, MGD1 and NODWIN Gaming - the Chennai Grand Masters!


Following these events closely and making updates and posts on our social media pages is a big part of my work. It does help that I am a huge chess fan and love watching Sagar and Amruta's commentary! If I had to pick one event among these which I loved the most, it has to be the Global Chess League. The tiebreaks in the finals were too stressful - I remember feeling that I am in the venue itself!


As I had mentioned earlier, this year I learnt a lot in work. While I initially joined as a social media manager, I have learned loads of new things since! Working on articles, editing videos, taking interviews, and many more - and I have to thank each and every one of my teammates who helped me so much in this. I also got to cover tournaments live, which was really cool! I covered 3 tournaments in person this year - the Indore GM Open in April, the Tata Steel Asian Juniors (Jamshedpur) in September, and the National Under-9 Championships (Seraikela) in November. It was fun to shoot videos of the playing hall, taking interviews of players, and just enjoy the vibe of the tournament in person!


The thing which I enjoyed working on the most this year is definitely the ChessBase India Newsletter. Over 20,000 people are now subscribed to the newsletter, and it is one of the best ways to recap all the top chess news of the week! Video editing is also something I was not too familiar with - thanks to the help of my teammates, I am editing quite a few videos now, and have also gained more info on creating thumbnails and writing titles for our videos. Seeing our Facebook page hit 1 Million Followers was also a surreal feeling - and I got to meet Vishy Anand at the Asian Juniors in September!


I wish to keep working well in 2024, and becoming better at the things I do! Chess is already becoming a lot more popular than it was before - and I aspire to grow chess even more. Hyped for Candidates 2024!"

Satanick Mukhuty

The Problemist at ChessBase India and the man who loves chess composition. Satanick also played a crucial role in the video course of Vidit when he came to Mumbai and in general loves the sphere of problem solving. He also organized the winter solving contest of ChessBase India and makes sure that people in India and all across the world can experience the joy of solving.

"ChessBase India turns eight years old today. I have now been a part of the company for five of these eight years, and in that time, its role in my life has been so integral that I can barely see myself as an identity distinct from it. At a time when the culture of individualism dominates, I like being identified as a member of ChessBase India, for it is not just a place of work for me but a family that I can turn to for help and guidance in times of need. Indeed, Sagar Shah and his wife Amruta Mokal—the founders of ChessBase India and its foundation—have saved my bacon more times than I can count. They are hands down the most dedicated people I have ever met; I wish I had even a tenth of their passion! But more importantly, they are uncommonly kind. They have been kind to me when I didn't quite deserve kindness, and they believed in me and my work even when I refused to believe in myself, ravaged with doubt. I have made many great memories working with the ChessBase India team. Here are some that just happen to have been recorded in pictures!"

Avathanshu Bhat

Avathanshu Bhat studies in Australia and has an extremely busy schedule. Yet he finds time to help with various endeavours of ChessBase India, the most notable one being customer service. Avathanshu's knowledge with softwares and computers ensures that all the customers are satisfied at the end of the day when they bought a product from our shop!

"My year with ChessBase India is best described as ‘amphibious’ in nature. Leaping through the hoops of a traditional academic future while dipping into the ocean of possibility and creativity where I feel at home. Like chess players finding that balance, I felt a pull from one side when going for the other. And I loved it. When the ChessBase India chess club was finding new footing, I joined in on many Saturdays to contribute and communicate with the community I know all too well now. When the creativity swirling around ChessPa was at a new peak, I pitched in with Amruta Ma’am, adding some extra flavor to an already astounding brew of ideas. Of course, whenever there was a desperate plea for technical assistance, I would rush to fire up AnyDesk regardless of what assignments awaited. I never saw any of these projects as a thorn in my side but rather a respite from other demanding tasks. It’s refreshing when that satisfaction comes through during a successfully executed task using years of built-up knowledge; it did wonders for my psyche in a phase where every word is unfamiliar. ChessBase India is to me what an acorn is to a squirrel – something to gleefully carry along through the ever-changing seasons. It’s like what I say to myself every year, “There’s never been a better time to be a part of CBI!”

Other team members:

We want to thank the efforts of our other team members who work tirelessly to ensure that ChessBase India keeps growing. The backend e-commerce team of Yaseen Shaikh, Pranali Joshi and Ankush Kori. Ravindra Potawad for not only helping with the backend office but also the video editing work. Shashank Mokashi, who joined us recently and has been working on ChessRanga. Anushka Salvi is our accountant. Nongsha Angom ensures all the broadcasts on go smoothly. Mihir Vaghela takes care of the ChessBase India Chess Club in Mumbai and the clips channel as well.


ChessBase India now has 21 salaried team members but we also have people who have contributed their time to help us. Here are some notable ones: Priyanka Ved, Nithin Chandan, Rakshit Singh, Harsh Kumar, Shikhar Saxena, Ashwin Subramanian, Siddharth Parekh, Pankajakshan Ramavallabhan, Mayur More, Trina Sen, Swapnil Pote, Sneha Tiwari and many more. The number of people who have contributed towards the growth of ChessBase India is immense and it is impossible to mention all of them here.

Of course, a big shout out to our friends in Hamburg who run ChessBase, without whose support this endeavour would have never begun!

A big thanks to Rainer Woisin - The CEO of ChessBase who has always been kind and helpful.

The future

What are our plans for 2024? While some of the projects are long term and will continue, we would love to adopt an approach of being in the present moment. What it entails is that you do not have any preconceived notions. You are nimble and the moment an opportunity arises you are ready for it. And this is where we see ourselves adding the greatest value to the Indian chess ecosystem.

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