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Launching ChessPa in Chess Adventure Park - a children's chess book

by Sagar Shah - 14/11/2022

ChessPa in Chess Adventure Park was a passion project of Amruta Mokal, the co-founder and COO of ChessBase India. She teamed up with Ketaki Kulkarni and Sagar Shah and together they created a book that is a very unique offering for young kids to learn the game of chess in a fun and interactive way. What is the right age to learn chess, you may ask? With this book even a 1-year-old kid can enjoy the illustrations and the parents can kickstart the kid's journey in the world of chess. The main character of the book is ChessPa and he takes you on a journey in the Chess Adventure Park. Launched on Children's Day, this is the first ever chess book published by ChessBase India. 

ChessBase India's first ever book published

It was July 2020 and Amruta Mokal, the co-founder and COO of ChessBase India, commenced one of her usual sessions of finding the most appropriate gifts for her loved ones. This time it was the 3rd birthday of her nephew Shaurya. This is the right age for him to get acquainted with chess she thought. So she went on Amazon and tried to find a children's chess book. She wanted something that would get a 3-year-old attracted to the game. Something interesting and exciting. She looked for quite a few minutes and nothing really could be found. It was very surprising. While there are many books that teach chess to adults, there is very little material out there to introduce chess to children. This was the trigger that made Amruta to think about a fun, interesting and attractive children's chess book. For the next year or so this thought remained in the back of her mind. Fast forward to 2021.


I had started a series on YouTube called the Basic Opening Chess Traps. It involved a father teaching traps to his 8-year-old son. These conversations between a strong chess playing father, and his 8-year-old boy who was prone to making errors was a fun series for people to follow. When we began shooting these videos, we had decided to keep the production as low as possible. We would not edit these videos. I would not change my appearance for the scene of the father or the son, only the voice was modulated. At some point, Amruta decided to order some moustaches and beards (those fake ones you get online!), so that the dad could look different than his 8-year-old son.

Check out the Moustache Gambit in this video!

While I did make use of the moustache, the beard was lying around. On 25th of May 2021, I had an online class with kids in the age group of 5-8 years. I decided that I will wear the beard and go to the online camp. I needed a name though, to introduce myself. And I spontaneously came up with ChessPa.

This is how I looked in the session! For all those who know the character of Future Shah from the YouTube streams - ChessPa inspired the character of Future Shah and not the other way round!

What I witnessed was a huge interest in the kids to learn chess thanks to ChessPa. Kids are smart, they understood very quickly that this was a fake beard. However, they played along with me and asked me a lot of questions both about chess and my beard. After the class ended, Amruta and I understood that we had got our main character for the children's chess book that we wanted to build - ChessPa!


The next step was to find someone who could execute the concept. When Amruta and I discussed who that person could be, both of us could think of only one name - Ketaki Kulkarni. Ketaki was Amruta's childhood chess friend. She is extremely talented and a very strong chess player. She had travelled to the UK to play in the British Championships and had won the under-8 event. She became the Maharashtra state champion in many age categories and had a FIDE rating of 2120. Chess wise she had played at a very good level. When she had to make a choice between chess and her creative career, Ketaki decided to pursue animation. In 2014, she had opened a gift shop in Dombivli called Tongue in Cheek and it was quite a success. The pandemic led her to closing the shop, but even from home she always stayed connected to chess and creativity.

Ketaki's creative mind at work as she enjoyed the chess streams in the lockdown

Ketaki's drawings and designs were selected as one of the best at the Chess Olympiad 2022

The famous five gang - Soumya Swaminathan, Sneha Ghatpande, Anuprita Patil, Amruta Mokal and Ketaki Kulkarni

Meet the soul of the book - Ketaki Kulkarni

The budding chess talent from Mumbai donning the well-known yellow Bournvita chess cap!

Ketaki the loving wife

Ketaki the caring mother!

When we shared our idea of Children's Chess Book and ChessPa, Ketaki was immediately on board. It combined three of her talents - being a wonderful illustrator, mother to a one-year-old girl and a strong chess player as well as a coach. We brainstormed a few ideas on that day and then Ketaki came up with this concept of chess in adventure park! She also wrote a poem story that taught the rules of chess in the aa, bb, cc rhyme scheme format. The work on the book started in February 2022 and took nine months to complete it. We like to say we began on Valentine's Day (14th February) and launched it on Children's Day (14th November)!

The cover of ChessPa in Chess Adventure Park

Amruta and Ketaki worked in close sync with each other throughout the duration of 9 months. Ketaki would come up with the designs and share it on a whatsapp group. Amruta would go over them closely and suggest improvements. The patience shown by both of them was immense. Each one of the 64 pages of the book was carefully designed.

The contents of the book

One of my favourite pages of the book is right at the start. ChessPa is carrying a bouquet with chess pieces, while the ignored flowers stand there sad and angry

Another beautiful page where all the pieces have different expressions!

Page on knights where you get to learn a lot about this tricky creatures! Notice the fork on their body! :)

If ChessPa is inspired by me, then he has to do the job of a commentator!

The entire character of ChessPa was built very carefully with special attention given to all his elements of dressing

The book gives some tips to parents who might not even know chess as to how they can teach their kids using this book!

The backcover of the board has a chess board, which is a well thought out idea by Amruta. The book comes with reusable stickers so that the kids can try their hand at an interactive exercise of setting up the chess board.

The book comes with two pages of stickers! And when it comes to chess pieces, you have two sets of white and black pieces!

The pieces are ready for a fight!

The main features of the book: Foam padded cover, Reusable stickers with chess pieces and ChessPa, Backcover of the board to be used as an interactive chess oard, 64 high quality premium pages!

The size of the book is 8.5 inches X 8.5 inches 

Would you like to come to the Chess Adventure Park with ChessPa?
A 1-minute video that tells you about the ChessPa in Chess Adventure Park book

The two super women who have worked extremely hard to make this project a reality

Speaking about the book, Amruta says, "I have a great belief that a lot can be done in the children's ecosystem when it comes to chess. This belief led me to dedicate a sizeable chunk of my time for the last nine months to make the ChessPa in Chess Adventure Park project into a reality. I can assure everyone that a lot more would be coming their way in the near future. I would like to thank Ketaki for giving her heart and soul to this project. The way she puts forth her thoughts in the form of subtle and clever illustrations is a joy to watch. Genius is the word that comes to mind. There are a few more people I would like to thank - Supriya Bhat, ChessBase India's Head of Sales for managing the entire backend work related to the book, Jeevan Karandikar for his advice and contribution, Avathanshu Bhat and Rachana Mehta for their kind feedback. Lastly I want to thank my mother for constantly being with me on this project." 

As is typical of any creative process, there are days when you feel everything is going haywire!

Ketaki working on the project with complete focus and dedication

Amruta is fantastic when it comes to organizing things and she had a worksheet with all sorts of different colours and remarks for each and every page of the book!

The creators in action. There were days when they worked for 18 hours with just 4-5 hours of sleep! This was one of them.

Shaurya, our nephew, who was the reason why Amruta got into this project is the first one who gets to see the book!

Features of the book:

1. 64 pages

2. Square sized book 8.5 x 8.5 inches

3. Foam padded cover

4. High quality premium pages

5. Interactive back cover of the book that can be used as a chess board

6. Two sheets of Reusable stickers with chess pieces and ChessPa

7. A perfect book to introduce any kid to chess from the age of 1 year onwards

Launching the book on Children's Day - 14th November 2022
A 90-second ad to tell you what ChessPa in Chess Adventure Park is all about
Get to know the illustrator of the book better - Ketaki Kulkarni
Sagar Shah shows enjoys an early version of ChessPa in Chess Adventure Park with his nephew Shaurya

We have given an order of 1000 books to be printed. We will be receiving them towards the end of November. However, we have launched the book as a pre-order as today is the Children's Day. At the same time we have given a huge discount if you pre-order the book. The MRP of the book is Rs.799 and we have the pre-order discounted price of Rs.499/-  Once you place the order you will get the book in the first week of December.

Order ChessPa in Chess Adventure Park today

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