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A very unique Chess Program - India's Got Chess Talent gets underway

by Sagar Shah - 01/09/2022

There are many players in who are extremely passionate about chess but are unable to improve. They lack the guidance and direction. With India's Got Chess Talent we plan to help 32 chess lovers from all across India get trained under 4 of the most competent trainers of our country. The 32 players, from 14 different states and 2 Union Territories of India, have been selected through a rigorous process of over 700+ applicants. The four mentors are GM Debashis Das, GM Shyam Sundar, GM Swapnil Dhopade and GM Swayams Mishra. Each team has 8 participants and the training sessions of each team will happen on the ChessBase India YouTube channel. This will culminate into semi-finals and finals between the teams with the winning team getting special prizes and a special IGCT scholarship that will be announced by the winning mentor.

On 28th of January 2022, my 32nd birthday, we launched the India's Got Chess Talent (IGCT) program on ChessBase India with the following video:

The India's Got Chess Talent was launched with a simple video

What was the inspiration behind India's Got Chess Talent? There were a lot of people who were putting in a lot of effort trying to get better at chess, but were stuck in their journey of chess improvement. They were not able to get the right guidance. For some it was a matter of finances as they couldn't afford a good trainer, for some it was just very difficult to get access to a good trainer, while for some even after training with someone there was no tangible improvement. In order to ensure that we received genuine entries we made a form that was quite elaborate and had many different fields to fill. The perk of being selected was that you would get to train with one of the best trainers in India, which would help to propel your game to the next level.


In the past, I had done the series called Doctor Chess (I hope to resume it some day!). I had done 27 episodes. The basic idea was to help the chess players find their issues and solve them just like how a doctor would do with a patient. It was quite successful, as many people would queue up on our discord channel to be a part of the live session. However, with the IGCT program response, all my expectations were surpassed. We received over 700 entries from people across India. From Jammu and Kashmir to Kanyakumari, we had people from the entire country filling in this elaborate form, which not only had Q&A but also a field to attach the PGN of your games. We decided that there would be four teams and each team would consist of 8 players. This meant that I had to find four world class chess trainers and we had to narrow down from 700+ entries to 32!

GM Swapnil Dhopade, GM Shyam Sundar, GM Debashis Das and GM Swayams Mishra are the four mentors of India's Got Chess Talent

Each of the 4 young GMs is that they are full-time trainers and they are some of the best coaches in India! For eg. Swapnil Dhopade was the main coach of India 2 team at the Chess Olympiad 2022 and his team finished 8th. We have GM Shyam Sundar and GM Swayams Mishra who were the assistant trainers of the women's India 1 team that won the bronze medal at the Olympiad. GM Debashis Das' student's have regularly been gaining over 100s of Elo points in recent tournaments. The most wonderful thing about each of these trainers is that even though their schedules are packed with training sessions, they agreed to be a part of this endeavour. And their job was going to be intense.

The four trainers, the names of their teams!

The next task was to shortlist the players for this event. It was not at all easy as there were so many heartfelt entries. Reading through all of them we realized how many of the players were in desperate need of getting good direction in chess. Bringing down the number to 32 was definitely not an easy task. While our main focus was on young talents, we also wanted to give opportunities to people who were in their 20s and beyond and were ready to work hard on their chess.

Team Debashis Das

Team Debashis Das

Debashis Das is the first grandmaster from Odisha. Recently, he became a full time trainer and has dedicated himself 100% to the job of a coach. Debashis is tremendously passionate about the job he does and this is the reason why he has managed to propel the ratings of his students, many of them by 100s of Elo points, in the last few months. He is a very observant trainer and is able to understand the strengths and weaknesses of his students very quickly. You can check out a sample session of his training from the video over here.

Shrihaan Karmakar, unrated, 8 years old from Port Blair, Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Srihaan is the current under-8 Andaman and Nicobar state champion

Andalamala Hemal Varshan, Elo 1398, 8 years old from Nellore Andhra Pradesh. The youngster has a rating of 1398, Has won under-8 state championship of Andhra Pradesh.

8-year-old, Samhita Pungavanam, rated 1165 from Hyderabad. She is the under-7 online Asian Schools Champion in 2020, under-7 national schools runner-up, under-8 nationals runner-up, Asian Youth Chess Championship under-8 bronze medal winner.

9-year-old Shashini Puvi from Bengaluru, rated 1167. Currently studying in 3rd grade, Shashini was the under-6 national schools champion in 2019..

15-year-old Honi Arora from Jaipur Rajasthan rated 1682. Honi is one of the most talented juniors from Rajasthan chess. He has been under-9, 11,13,15 and 20 champion of his state in the past.

16-year-old Marium Fatima from Muzaffarpur, Bihar with a rating of 1582. She was the 2018 Senior State Women's Champion of Bihar.

17-year-old Ujaan Bhattacharya from Kolkata, West Bengal with a rating of 1536. Ujaan is the current national under-17 schools champion and has drawn with Praggnanandhaa in a simul in the past. He is also the state under-13 champion of West Bengal in 2013

14-year-old Garv Gaur from Faridabad, Haryana with a rating of 2060. He is the current under-12 Commonwealth Chess Championship. Asian Schools Rapid Champion, Standard Runner-Up, Haryana state senior champion 2021 and the Western Asian Youth Rapid Runner Up 2019

Teams Wings of Fire by GM Shyam Sundar

Team Wings of Fire led by GM Shyam Sundar

Shyam Sundar is one of the best chess trainers in the country. He has been the trainer of many budding talents in the country - Ilamparthi, Savitha Shri, just to name a few. But that's not it. He has also been the trainer of the Indian Olympiad team that won the bronze in 2021 and also the women's 1 team that won the bronze medal in 2022. Shyam has a fearless way of approaching chess and his unconventional approach gives his students a fresh edge that helps them to move on their path to chess improvement.

13-year-old Debapriya Manna from Kolkata, West Bengal rated 1479. She has been one of the top young talents of West Bengal. Her big achievement happened in 2019 where she finished 4th in under-10 Asian Youth girls and also won the team gold in the classical section.

15-year-old Tizya Kumar from Janakpuri, New Delhi. Tizya is unrated. She has finished 3rd at the Delhi State Women's Championships 2021.

17-year-old Kimaya Virle is from Mumbai, Maharashtra. She is rated 1365. She had won the under-17 SGFI National Silver medal for CISCE Team.

12-year-old Mitul KH from Bengaluru, Karnataka rated 1311. Mitul obtained his rating before he turned , making him one of the youngest rated players of the country. He has won the Karnataka under-7 state title and has won many age category prizes in international tournaments.

22-year-old Om Prajapati from Indore, Madhya Pradesh rated 1352. His aim is to become an IM by 2024.

15-year-old Manmay Chopra from New Delhi rated 2027. He has won the Barcelona Open B-group in 2021 and was placed 4th in Sunway Sitges B group.

17-year-old Nawin M.S. from Chennai, Tamil Nadu rated 1851. He is the Tiruvallur District Open Champion and has won over 300 Elo points in the last few months.

42-year-old Amit Jagwani from Kolkata, West Bengal rated 1274. He is a chess trainer and has won some Corporate events in the past. His aim is to become a GM.

Chess Pathshala by GM Swapnil Dhopade

Team Chess Pathshala led by GM Swapnil Dhopade

GM Swapnil Dhopade has been one of the top trainers of the country for several years now. A strong GM in his own right, Swapnil decided to devote himself to full training around 4 years ago. He set up his academy Chess Pathshala. Swapnil has trained some huge talents which include GM Raunak Sadhwani, GM Sankalp Gupta, GM Harshit Raja and has been the coach of the Indian women's team at the World Team Championships 2019. He was also the coach of the India 2 team at the Olympiad 2022 which finished 8th.

15-year-old Pratibha PL from Madurai, Tamil Nadu is unrated. She has been selected in the past to represent Madhurai at the Tamil Nadu State Championships.

12-year-old Shubhi Gupta from Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh rated 1713. She recently won the under-12 National title in girls.

9-year-old Ameena NK from Kalpetta, Wayanad rated 1015. Participated in world under-10 girls and has been under-6 and under-7 Kerala girls champion.

15-year-old Bhavik Ahuja from Delhi rated 2114. Bhavik recently won the World Open Amateur section and has pumped his rating by almost 200 points. He is an adventurer and has travelled across the world at the age of 14 and has also published his own chess book!

23-year-old Raj Pandya from Mumbai rated 1279. Raj is 3 times Vasai Nagar Taluka and Thane district winner, Intra College, and inter-college winner in his college days.

18-year-old Kunal Gupta from Mumbai is unrated. He comes from a very humble background but harbors ambitions of becoming an IM at chess.

13-year-old Nirnay Garg from Gurgaon, Haryana with a rating of 1768. He is the Haryana State U20 Champion in 2021.

30-year-old Karthik S. from Bangalore rated 1446. Being an IT employee, he is unable to spare a lot of time for his chess improvement, but chess is his passion and he has won many inter-corporate events.

Team Delphinus by Swayams Mishra

Team Delphinus led by GM Swayams Mishra

Swayams Mishra was one of the trainers of the team along with Shyam Sundar and head coach Abhijit Kunte of the Indian women's team at the Olympiad 2022 that won the bronze medal. Swayams worked a lot with Humpy as well as Tania Sachdev. The latter in the interview after the Olympiad recognized Swayam's efforts as a chess trainer. Swayams has many students who have done phenomenally well in the past - Priyanka Nutakki, Mounika Akshaya, IM Sai Agni Jeevitesh and many more.

12-year-old Hiya Garg from Ghaziabad with a rating of 1049. She was the under-9 girls Delhi state champion in 2018.

25-year-old Supriya Gupta from Mumbai is unrated. Supriya started playing chess in the lockdown and has been completely hooked to the game since then.

21-year-old Ayush Naik from Bicholim, Goa rated 1376. He won the category prize at the 2nd Goa GM International where he lost just one game and gained 170+ Elo points.

16-year-old Navvye Anand from New Delhi rated 1274. Navvye was a decently strong player, but due to financial and geographical constraints couldn't make progress in the game. Since the pandemic, he has rekindled his love for chess and is looking forward to making a strong comeback.

24-year-old Arnob Dutta from Guwahati, Assam, is unrated. He has never taken personal training and working with Swayams Mishra is going to be a huge opportunity for him.

17-year-old Rithvik C from Telangana rated 1355. Rithvik has gained close to 280 to 300 Elo points recently and has pumped his rating from 1078 to 1355.

17-year-old Aniket Narayan Biswas from Kolkata rated 1426. He aims to become a grandmaster someday.

22-year-old Vaibhav Gautam from Delhi rated 1371. The most special participant in the entire program. Vaibhav suffers from cerebral palsy, but is such a huge inspiration to everyone out there. He is a fighter and his ambition in chess is to represent India at world level and work towards his GM title.

Format of the event:

All the players submitted 10 of their annotated games to us, which were sent to the trainers. The trainers worked on them and have tried to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each player. They will be looking at the games of each of these players on livestreams on ChessBase India starting from 1st of September 2022. This will help the players improve and at the same time, it will give an idea to the viewers as to how top level chess training takes place.

1st of September 2022 - 7 p.m. - Team Debashis Das livestream

2nd of September 2022 - 7 p.m

3rd of September 2022 - 7 p.m.

4th of September 2022 - 7 p.m

From 1st to 4th we will have the training sessions with each of the trainers and their teams. The players will continue their work for the week. In mid-September, we will have the Semi-Finals 1, Semi-Finals 2 and Finals. The semi-finals 1 will be between Team Wings of Fire of Shyam Sundar and Chess Pathshala of Swapnil Dhopade. Semi-finals 2 will take place between Team Debashis Das and Team Delphinus of Swayams Mishra. Each match will be 8 games of 15 minutes + 10 seconds increment. In case of a 4-4 tie, we will have an Armageddon.


Each member of the winning team will receive a gift voucher of Rs.10,000 from ChessBase India to buy products that will boost their chess and help them improve at the game. In addition the coach of the winning team will be able to decide the winner of the India's Got Chess Talent Scholarship of Rs.50,000 that will be instituted via the HelpChess Foundation.

A special thanks to ChessBase India's Aditya Sur Roy who played a major role in putting together all the logistics related to the event and coordinating with all the players and the trainers.

Related news:
India's Got Chess Talent -The Finale

@ 18/09/2022 by Aditya Sur Roy (en)
Chessbase India launches India's Got Chess Talent

@ 29/01/2022 by Shahid Ahmed (en)

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