IM Kushagra Mohan and Shriraj Bhosale: The Winners of the 4th edition of Pursue Your Chess Scolarship
In 2018, a person hailing from Bangalore who wanted to remain anonymous initiated Pursue Your Chess Scholarship under the banner of Help Chess Foundation with Rs. 50000. It has been 5 years now, and this is the 4th edition of the initiative. The donor is now a well-known personality in chess, Ashwin Subramanian, a man with many talents. Ashwin has been an integral part of the chess community for some time now and finds ways to give back to the community in any way possible. With his support, we have been able to help many chess players all over the world. Every year, he has been raising the fund by Rs. 25,000; this year, the total amount was Rs. 1,25,000. The scholarship was divided between IM Kushagra Mohan, who won Rs. 1 lakh, and Shriraj Bhosale, who received Rs. 25,000.
4th Edition of Pursue Your Chess Scholarship
The Help Chess Foundation, an initiative started by ChessBase India, is something that began with a noble vision and a humble beginning. The main goal behind this enterprise was to provide young chess players with funds that could help them grow further in their chess journey. India has many talented chess players who, for many reasons, are unable to pursue their chess dreams. We want that money to not be one of those reasons. Along the way of this vision came Ashwin Subramanian, an ardent chess lover, photographer, and engineer at Intel.
Ashwin is a name that is not unknown in the chess world now. He has been contributing to the chess world for a long time now. His scholarship, Pursue Your Chess Scholarship, is one of the longest-running scholarships till now. Till now, every year he has raised the fund by Rs. 25,000. Earlier this year, we put out an article stating that the scholarship is back this year and people can apply to win it. Out of many potential candidates, two people were chosen for the scholarship after consulting with Ashwin, this year. One of them was IM Kushagra Mohan, who got Rs. 1 lakh, and another was Shriraj Bhosale, who received Rs. 25,000. Read the article further to learn in detail about these two individuals.
When asked Ashwin why he chose these two individuals for the scholarship he said, "Sagar has established a very structured approach to select the most deserving candidates based on their current chess strength (the idea is to help players pursue chess as a career so they need to be reasonably close to becoming a tilted player), their current financial situation and also how they plan to use the funds to pursue their chess goals - we both discuss the most deserving candidates and made the decision."
IM Kushagra Mohan: Recipient of Pursue Your Chess Scholarship worth Rs. 1 Lakh
IM Kushagra Mohan, hailing from Telangana, is a recipient of the scholarship and gets Rs. 1 Lakh. Kushagra started playing chess at the age of 4, and his mother taught him the rules of the game. While solving chess puzzles in the newspaper, Kushagra developed an interest in the game.
The beginning of any chess player's journey plays a big part in their success. With the right guidance from able trainers, one can easily reach heights of success. When we asked Kushagra who were his initial trainers, he replied, "I had quite a few trainers or practice partners during the initial years of my chess career. My first coach was a guy named Kandaswamy (I guess he was rated around 1400). He used to teach me quite enthusiastically. After him, there were many others with whom I trained for brief amounts of time. I also had GM Neverov Valeriy come to my house once. He had taught me for 15 days. This was in 2014. The most time I spent with a trainer was with Ramaraju Sir (from mid-2012 to the end of 2015, I guess)."
Initial Achievements of Kushagra Mohan
Kushagra has many wins under his belt. In 2011, he won 3rd place in the U-7 National Chess Championship, which was held in Pune. Next year, he won a silver medal at the National U-9 Chess Championships in Ahmedabad. In 2013, his big win came when he won his first international medal and finished 3rd at the Asian Youth U-10 Chess Championships in Iran.
Kushagra is well known in the Indian chess scene for becoming an IM without any trainer. When asked why he decided to pursue the goal without any trainer, he says, "Actually, from 2014 to 2016, my rating was stuck around the 1800s." My rating had not improved for about a year when we (me and my dad) decided to leave Ramaraju, Sir. (Please note that I am NOT blaming Ramaraju Sir in any way for my stagnation). After that, I have attended a few coaching camps organised by the AICF/Telangana Chess Association, but I have not trained personally with anyone. That's because it was rather unaffordable to have a GM coach, and also because I began to like working independently. True, my progress has been slow by today's standards, but hopefully, I can improve quicker in the future."
Interview with IM Kushagra Mohan
Sagar Shah (SS): Which are the chess books or video courses that have made a deep impact on you?
IM Kushagra Mohan (KM): During my initial years, I spent a lot of time on Dvoretsky's endgame manual. Over the course of my career, many books have made an impact on me. Jacob Aagaard's GM preparation series and Vladimir Tukmakov's risk and bluff in Chess, to name a few, GM Sergei Tiviakov's DVDs on chess strategy (like the art of Defence) also helped me improve.
SS: I believe your father has a sports shop. Can you tell us about your financial situation? How have you managed to support yourself until now?
KM: Most of the funds for my chess career were provided by my grandfather until four years ago. I am very thankful to him for that. Yes, my dad has a sports shop in Hyderabad. It is one of the oldest shops in Hyderabad, and it was opened in 1932 by my great-grandfather. Chess is a very expensive game after all, and it's not possible to support my career from shop earnings.
SS: How happy are you to know that you have won the chess scholarship, and how would you like to utilize the fund?
KM: I was happy to have won it. I am using the funds to partially sponsor my current trip to Europe.
SS: What is your aim for 2023, and how are you planning to fulfil it?
KM: I hope to become a GM this year. I know that for that, I will have to play a lot of good GM tournaments and work hard to perform well in them.
SS: Which has been your favourite chess game to date?
KM: My win against GM Michal Krasenkow at Bikaner GM in 2022 was quite memorable. I don't really have any particular favourite game, but my draw against Super GM Predke Alexandr in the Serbia Masters 2022 was a good experience.
Shriraj Bhosale: Recipient of Pursue Your Chess Scholarship worth Rs. 25, 000
Shriraj Bhosale, another talented up-and-coming player, started playing chess at 6 years old. His father is a chess lover and used to read about chess on the sports page every day. Due to the same, interest started building up, and he started teaching chess to his elder sister. He started learning alongside her sister and grasped whatever he could. The love for the game was so inbuilt in him and his father that, to date, his father is her trainer, with whom he discusses everything from his games to preparations.
In his initial days, Shriraj won a silver medal in the 64th SGFI national school games held in Andhra Pradesh. Also recently, he managed to win against some IMs- IM Sammed Shete, IM Viani Dcunha, and IM Vikramaditya Kulkarni in Classical tournaments. Shriraj has won two classical tournaments, and his peak rating was 1995, whereas right now his current rating is 1948.
When asked which chess books or videos have made a deep impact on him, Shriraj says, "There are a lot of courses that have made a deep impact on me. Some of them are the Woodpecker Method, Improve Your Middle Game by Artur Yusupov, the video course of Caro Kann by GM Swapnil Dhopade, and a lot of interviews and analysis videos by ChessBase."
Shriraj belongs to a middle-class family; his father has a small business in silver plating in their village. Therefore, it is difficult for him to play a lot of tournaments. By playing local tournaments, Shriraj wins cash prizes and uses them for big events. Shriraj Bhosale expresses his gratitude to IA Vivek Sohani, who helped him a lot to achieve his goals. Having received the scholarship, Shriraj says he is quite happy and is motivated to do his best in chess. He aims to utilise the funds for the preparation of upcoming events and try to get a coach or mentor for his future career.
Shriraj is currently preparing to cross the 2200 rating threshold and get his first IM norm in 2023. As for the long-term goal, he wishes to become a grandmaster and pursue chess as an overall career.
Few of the Favorite games of Shriraj Bhosale
We asked Shriraj Bhosale to mention a few games he is really proud of, and he mentioned his wins against the following players.
Know More about Ashwin Subramanian
There isn’t a lot about Ashwin that hasn't already been covered. What started as an anonymous donation has grown into one of the longest-running chess scholarships associated with the Help Chess Foundation. Ashwin Subramanian, the man behind Pursue Your Chess Scholarship, is a software engineering manager at Intel, a talented photographer, and a consistent donor to the ChessBase India Foundation. He is also an advocate for chess and technology.
Ashwin’s love for chess is not unknown in the chess community. From a young age, he has been following and playing the game. His chess journey came to a halt in the middle. However, as it is said, if you love something with full dedication, it will come back to you eventually, and that’s exactly what happened to Ashwin. Years after leaving the dream of pursuing chess, he started playing again.
Ashwin is totally happy and content with his life right now, but one wonders what would have happened if he had pursued the game and given it 100%. There was a time when, due to a financial crunch, he could not do all that he wanted to do, and he thus feels that that should not happen to another potential candidate. Ashwin feels that he is capable enough to help someone bring out their full potential, and that is his vision behind the scholarship: to offer talented chess players support that can help them grow in the game.
About Help Chess Foundation
HelpChess is a registered charitable Trust with 80G tax benefits run by ChessBase India. If you would like to contribute towards the growth of Indian chess players, please go to the official website (you can hyper link this) and become a believer or a big believer (contribution above Rs.50,000). If you are a big believer then you can give a name to your scholarship by writing to us at email@example.com. We can assure you that every single penny that you contribute will be used to support Indian chess players.
Previous Articles regarding Pursue Your Chess Scholarship
In case you want to know about the Pursue Your Chess Scholarship Journey here are some important links: