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WSB Student selected for Junior World Chess Championship

WSB Student  selected for Junior World Chess Championship
TT Epaper
The Telegraph

Sponsorship stalemate checkmates champ

– Uttarpara boy in National Chess team but Delhi won’t provide funds for trip to Montenegro

Yudhajeet De trains under the guidance of Shantanu Lahiri at the Welfare Society for the Blind. (Sayantan Ghosh)

An 18-year-old Uttarpara boy selected to represent India at the Junior World Chess Championship for the Blind is struggling to arrange funds to make the trip to Podgorica, Montenegro, next month.

Yudhajeet De, who has the opportunity to become only the third blind player from Bengal to represent the country in the junior world championship (under 19), needs to arrange around Rs 2.3 lakh within the next few days in the absence of funding.

The teenager from a humble background, who has no vision in both eyes, was selected for the tournament after a top-10 finish in the National-A Senior Championship for the Blind last year.

The other two members of the Indian contingent for the tournament are from Odisha.

“When I got my selection letter from the All India Chess Federation for the Blind, I was very excited. But when I learnt that there was hardly any chance of getting help from the government for a trip that would cost around Rs 1.15 lakh per person, I felt helpless. I know I can’t let go of this opportunity but it’s not in my hands now,” Yudhajeet said.

Since the teenager needs to be accompanied by another person, his total trip cost works out to Rs 2.3 lakh.

Introduced to chess by his mother when he was just six, Yudhajeet, a Class XII student, has won several tournaments. His twin brother Deeptyajeet, who is also blind, learnt chess from him and is now a FIDE-rated player.

But for all his determination and perseverance, Yudhajeet’s morale has taken a beating for want of financial support. “The central government gives an annual grant to the All India Chess Federation to send Indian contingents to the world chess championships. But there’s no such provision for blind or visually impaired players. There’s no government fund for individual participation either. The Grandmasters and International Masters, of course, get an appearance fee from the organisers that covers the cost of travel and stay,” said Sayan Mukerji, the secretary of the Welfare Society for the Blind and vice-president of the Bengal Chess Association.

Charudatta Jadhav, president of the All India Chess Federation for the Blind, said: “Forget about funds, the government of India doesn’t give any recognition to visually impaired chess players, although we have won many laurels for the country. We have been sending teams to the world chess championship since 1998 and have always had to look for private sponsors.”

Yudhajeet’s parents – father Arup Kumar De is a trader – have approached the Welfare Society for the Blind and the Bengal Chess Association for help and both organisations have promised to pitch in with their limited resources.

The Welfare Society for the Blind has arranged for special training so that Yudhajeet is at the top of his game during the championship. “We want him to focus on his game. We requested Shantanu Lahiri, a FIDE instructor, to train him and he has already started doing so. Grandmaster Dibyendu Barua has also promised to coach Yudhajeet,” Mukerji said.


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