22 June, 2021

A coach plots the future of his students on the sixty-four squares

A coach plots the future of his students on the sixty-four squares
Adegree in English literature, a job as under-secretary in the state works department and a self-deprecating manner are unlikely attributes in a chess coach. Arati Bijoy Mohanty, who spent several years writing notes on files in a dingy room in the Orissa Heads of Department building, has a hidden passion. He loves and lives chess. But his passion was manifest as a grand teacher, not grandmaster.

Mohanty started his Free Chess Coaching Academy from his home way back in 1970. At the time, the nation had barely a handful of great players. Chess was considered a nerd’s game and the image of a chess player—the small, sickly looking types with large spectacles—put off a lot of youngsters.

Before Viswanathan Anand fired our imagination, reclaiming the game for the country that invented it, Arati Mohanty was quietly inspiring some of India’s future GMs. His pupils include national-level chess players like Gargi Mohapatra, Sanghamitra Singh, Suresh Rath, Smruti Ranjan Dash, Roop Kumar Das, Manas Ranjan Parida and Soumya Ranjan Mishra.

Mohanty tries to instil the...

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