Money is the only barrier in Om's dream of becoming a world beater!
He is one of the brightest little stars of Indian chess. Meet Om Kadam the current under-9 national champion and the reigning Asian under-10 Champion 2018. His current rating is 1844 but he aims to become an IM by the end of the year. To ensure that his son gets the best shot at achieving his aim, father Manish Kadam has planned a series of events in India and Spain. Hailing from a humble background it is becoming difficult for the Kadams to make their ends meet. But one thing that they cannot afford is compromising on their dreams. Can you help the young boy achieve his goal?
I first saw Om Kadam at the IIFLW 2017-18. A nine-year-old boy with a rating of 1650. Nothing special, right? But there was something that attracted me to his board. Perhaps it was him wearing a cap while making his moves with great confidence. Whatever it was, Om made the world take a note of him when he gained 145 Elo points in the tournament, beating much higher rated players like Divya Deshmukh, Trisha Kanyamarala, Shahil Dey and Mahitosh Dey. In the penultimate round, 45th seeded Om was sitting on the top board against D. Gukesh. The thing which impressed me greatly about Om was his ability to win winning positions without any nerves. Check out this game against Divya Deshmukh, especially the final part, where Om converts the endgame like a pro.
And this was not an isolated example. Even when he was up against Trisha Kanyamarala, Om was worse for the most part of the game, but when he got his chance he absolutely did not let it go.
You very rarely find young kids who can convert an advantage in such a stable manner. I did some more of background check on Om and found out that he is also the national under-9 champion. But what was interesting is the way he became one. In the last round he was trailing the leader John Venki by a full point. Om was on 8.5/10 and John on 9.5. Being a big match player Om played a fine game from the white side of the French Defence and won the game to tie at the top with 9.5/11 and win the championship thanks to a better tiebreak!
Born on January 22nd 2008, Om Started playing chess at the age of seven. It was his father Manish Kadam who taught him the rules of the game. Thanks to his rapid improvement he was taken to a local coach named Suresh Nemlekar. Om worked with his coach, while his father would train him after work hours. Om started participating in local events and began winning one prize after another. He also performed well in his age category state events. Whatever was taught to Om, he consumed it quickly. Manish would practice with him after his work hours giving him positions on the board and urging his son to find the answers. For moves that were not mentioned in the book Manish would make use of engines to refute his son's analysis. This went on for quite some time, but the need for a high level coach made itself felt. Manish approached the experienced trainer IM Sharad Tilak.
"Coaching in chess is very expensive", says Manish Kadam. "I work as a general mechanic at Hinduja hospital where my salary is Rs.15,000 per month. From 1st of May, my wife has started working as well, which helps us with another Rs.12,000. But this is not enough. I am always hard pressed for funds. When Om went to Asian Youth under-10 in Thailand recently, his trip was sponsored by the Government of India, but in order to meet my expenses I had to approach local MLAs and a few friends who helped me financially. But this is one-off incident and I cannot go to them again for funds. Om currently works only four hours in a month in personal training and 12 hours in a month in group training with IM Sharad Tilak, because that is what we can afford. I hope we can find a sponsor who can back my son's talent and hard work."
Being the under-9 national champion, Om qualified for the Asian under-10 championship. In order to make sure that his preparation is done well Manish Kadam spent nearly half of his salary to buy ChessBase 14 + Mega Database 2018 combo. Om worked hard on his chess along with his father and his coach. He went to Chiang Mai as the fifth seed, scored 7.5/8 and became the champion with one round to spare. He lost the last round but that did not affect his standing at the event. I asked Om, why did you lose the last round? To which he replied, "I made a calculation error and that was my mistake. It was not because of the excitement of having won the tournament!" Check out this video where Om shows his favourite game from the event against Liu Mide from China from the sixth round.
I sat with Om for nearly an hour discussing various tactical puzzles as well as positional ones. My assessment is the following: The boy is not the most talented boy that I have come across. He cannot spot the tactics at the speed of lightning, or suggest some brilliant positional idea as soon as the position is shown. But what he is really good at is perseverance. He doesn't give up easily and his intensity does not reduce if he doesn't get the answer quickly. In fact it makes him even more determined to get the answer. Perhaps, it is because of the humble background in which he has been brought up. Also if you look at the above video closely, you will see that Om's fundamentals are quite clear. He knows why he is going for a specific move and can clearly explain it in words. This is quite fascinating for a boy who has just turned ten. I can say with confidence that if given the right opportunities, this boy will easily break into the 2200 zone before the end of this year.
And Manish Kadam has ensured that his son plays maximum events. He has planned to take his son to all the GM tournaments in India - the Bhubaneswar open, Mumbai Mayor's Cup, Ahmedabad and Goa GM tournaments in October and World Youth under-10 in Spain. At the same time Manish would like to send his son to the ChessBase India group tour to the Catalan circuit. "Om has never gone alone to any tournament. But I feel that this is a golden opportunity for him to go to Barcelona, Spain and play in at least three events, because I don't have to accompany him. ChessBase India Power will take care of him and that will help us save the costs by nearly 50%." Om is excited at the prospect. He says, " I would like to go and play in Barcelona. The Asian Youth was the first time I traveled outside India. Playing three open tournaments in Spain will be very good for my chess improvement. I want to achieve my three International Master norms by the end of 2018!"
ChessBase India Power Head Ankit Dalal, who will be the group manager to Barcelona, said, " Om is a special talent. He playing in Barcelona will be a great exposure to his chess career. We would like to do our bit to help him ease his financial situation. Also, I will make sure that he will be taken care off in his first trip outside India without his parents. I hope the chess community comes ahead and helps Om so that he can gather the funds and we can apply for his visa and make his bookings."
Manish Kadam lived a childhood of poverty and one that was filled with lack of opportunities. He doesn't want it for his son. He will do everything it takes to ensure that his son becomes one of the best players in the world.
Funds required for three tournaments Catalan:
Total cost of the trip (all costs inclusive for 3 tournaments): Rs.1,50,000
Discount offered by ChessBase India Power: Rs.50,000
Cost that will borne by Manish Kadam: Rs.25,000
Sponsorship/ contribution required: Rs.75,000
All those who are interested in contributing or sponsoring Om for future can contact Manish Kadam on +9198212 34856 or you can directly contribute to his bank account (given below). Any amount received above 75,000 (cumulatively) will be used for Om's expenses in coaching and other tournaments. Your contribution will ensure that this young talent reaches his goal. It could be any small amount (Rs.50, 100). If you feel like it, do back this boy. All those who contribute will receive a thank you note from the young boy.
Name of the account holder: Om Manish Kadam
Name of the Bank: Abhyudaya Co-op limited
Account number: 004011100117910
IFSC code: ABHY0065004
MICR code: 400065004
Branch address: Bandup (west), JM Road Branch
Note: Just as we published this we received the first contribution from Mayur Gondhalekar, an avid reader of ChessBase India newspage from Japan. Mayur has contributed Rs.3200. We thank him for his support.