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Shahrukh Khan on chess

by Sagar Shah - 06/07/2016

It is always good news for chess fans when Bollywood icons, who have millions of fans and followers, speak about the game of chess. On the graduation day of Dhirubhai Ambani International School, Shahrukh Khan, one of the most eminent actors in Bollywood, was the chief guest. Shahrukh spoke about the five gifts given to him by his father that changed his life. The first gift was a chess board he got when he was ten. Shahrukh talks about chess and life for nearly four minutes and quite ingeniously links zugzwang to the real world! Don't miss out on this very interesting speech by King Khan. 

We all know how interested Aamir Khan is at the game of chess. In fact, in recent times he has made more public appearances where Vishy Anand has been present rather than for Bollywood events!

Aamir Khan felicitating Anand on the day he received the Hridaynath Award in Mumbai on 12th of April 2016
On 1st of June 2016, Shahrukh Khan, a Bollywood icon and perhaps one of the most popular figures in India, was called as the chief guest at the Graduation ceremony of Dhirubhai Ambani International School (DAIS). One of the students graduating was Shahrukh's own daughter Suhana Khan.
After a brief introduction, Shahrukh begins with the main content of his speech around seven minutes into the video. He speaks about the five gifts given to him by his father and how they changed his life. The reason why this speech made it to our newspage is because the first gift was a chess set!
This is what Shahrukh had to say about chess in his speech:
"When I was ten, my father gifted me an old chess set. Now, chess is a reflection of life. And as cliched it may sound, it is probably true. The first thing it teaches you is that every move has a consequence, whether you perceive that it does or does not. Not a single moment is empty of living. So, think your things through, not always but often enough so that your life doesn't look as uniform and black and white like a chess board. Sometimes in order to move forward you might need to take a few steps back. And there is no loss in doing something that hurts in the short run but proves worth while in time.

Sometimes the queen might seem sexier, they always do! But if she gets taken by an adversary straight after you have saved her, then you might be better off saving your castle or the bald bishop instead. So don't always choose what seems most desirable if something tells you that it is going to get you into a whole lot of trouble.


You cannot get anywhere in chess if you don't look out for the little ones - the small pawns around you. Life is like that too. If you forget the smallest of your people, or become foolish enough to imagine that the little graces you're given are of no value, you end up nowhere. When you look around you learn to notice the tiny things which make your existence privileged and special. Just the fact that you are here, in this very moment, in this fantastic school, in the company of such adorable parents, is the product of hard work, love and sacrifice on the part of many people present here. Taking your blessings for granted is the most ungracious stupidity, both in chess and in life.

Then there is what they call, I don't know how to pronounce it but sounds very cool - Zugzwang! It's a really cool word. It sounds like a chinese aphrodisiac. It is a german word for, (looks at his speech), okay I need to tone down this a bit! Oh fish I need to get out of here! Anyway, for those who have never played the game, it is when you get so stuck that whichever move you make is a bad move. It will happen to each one of you in your life. A moment will come when it will look like there isn't anything that is going right, and there is nothing you can do to prevent disaster.


When you are in zugzwang, don't panic! With little embarassment you will survive it. All you have to do is make a move. All you have to do is move on a bit! As the Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland said, when Alice came to the fork in the road, "If you don't know where you are going it doesn't matter which road you take." I will add to it - As long as you take one road and don't keep standing in the middle of the fork until a truck runs you over you should be fine. Often in Zugzwang your enemy ends up winning that particular move but you end up winning the game."


Check out Shahrukh's 24 minute speech video below. The chess part begins at 7 minutes 10 seconds and goes on until 11 minutes! 

As a chess player, I do find some flaws in the speech like, "Often in Zugzwang your enemy ends up winning that particular move but you end up winning the game." Chess players know that zugzwang more often than not ends up in the inferior side losing the gme. But maybe we can improve upon it by saying, "Often in Zugzwang your enemy ends up winning that particular game but if you don't give up you can win the tournament!"


All in all I found Shahrukh mentioning the word Zugzwang and linking it to life quite ingenious! It is good news for chess fans that King Khan spoke about chess and we hope that many more people will take up to this beautiful game after listening to his speech.

Even a six year old can learn chess!

In case you are interested to learn chess and do not know where to start from we recommend you the Fritz & Chesster program which is available in the ChessBase India shop.

This is the beginning of a very interesting new product by ChessBase. It is possibly also the most important piece of software created by the company, for a very simple reason. Like none of the other products, Fritz, Junior, Shredder, or even ChessBase itself, Fritz and Chesster is one that can recruit new players to the game. We predict that tens of thousands of children will take up chess because they had access to this program. Fritz & Chesster is published by the Terzio Verlag in Munich in collaboration with ChessBase.


Fritz and Chesster does not teach chess in the usual way. It does not set up a board and explain how each of the pieces move. Instead it targets children who have never played chess before in their lives and teaches them the basic rules in a Sesame Street like environment. There are cartoons and stories for the children to follow, and then there are tasks for them to solve interactively.


Each piece and each rule is explained in a subgame, which you can play against the computer. Many of them are far away from the actual game of chess, but at the same time they give the children full insight into the sometimes daunting rules of the game.


Take for instance the first sequence. Young Prince Fritz has to stand in for a while for his father, King White. Together with his cousin Bianca Fritz embarks on a journey through their kingdom.

On their journey they are joined by Kalaidoscope, a jolly instructor, who tells them all about the kingdom. In each scene the children can click different elements, like the mouse traps in the above picture, funny things happen. It encourages the young users to explore the scenery.

On their trip around the kingdom the three encounter the daunting King Black, who challenges them to a game of chess. But Fritz doesn't know how to play. Thankfully he is able to learn the game on the rest of his trip.

The first lesson comes when they see two sumo wrestlers fighting in a ring. The wrestlers are too fat to approach each other directly, so they always stay at least one square apart. They move around the board blocking each other off.

If they do it properly Fritz and Bianca can push their opponent off the board. After that they try to occupy chairs before their opponent, and while trying to do so the program explains how they can use "opposition" to outwit the opponent. At the end of this lesson the children have learnt everything they need to know about the king move, including the concept of opposition.

Learning the rook moves is equally entertaining. In a pacman-like game the children learn to move the rook and avoid capture by the enemy spiders. There are sound effects and high-score lists to keep their attention.

The bishop move is learnt by bouncing a ball off a rectangular paddle to destroy toilet bowls (the kind of thing young children find hilarious). Since the ball moves diagonally they are learning to operate the bishop. Mind you, these games might also create some problems. Very often the parents start to play them and compete against their offspring. There can be ugly scenes when it turns out, as it usually does, that the children are better.


The Stand Alone Chess Teacher

A few weeks after you purchase Fritz & Chesster your child will come to you and say: "Can we play a game of chess?" He or she will have learnt all the rules – we are talking pawn moves, castling rules, promotion, mate, stalemate, everything – and even understand a bit about strategy and tactics.


Naturally you do not need to leave your child alone with the program. In fact we have discovered that it is often usually children and their mothers who pick up the game together. The fathers usually get hooked on the subgames, battling to keep ahead of the kids!


Fritz & Chesster is available in the ChessBase India shop for just Rs. 499/- You can buy it from our online shop. You can download the setup file and play it locally on your computer or you can immediately access it on the browser with the serial key provided to you!


Maybe like Shahrukh, your son or daughter might speak about how Fritz & Chesster was the best gift ever given to them by their parents! 


Buy Fritz & Chesster - learn how to play chess