Published: 22nd May 2021
These teen pro chess players from Delhi are helping the underprivileged learn from the sport too
Based out of Delhi, Bhushita and Bhavik Ahuja started Samvedna Chess in 2019 when the realisation dawned on them that the sport that made them who they are, can work wonders for many others too
The pawn might be the weakest chess piece on the board, but you can't say that when it dodges deadly moves to reach the end of the board to transform into the queen, the all-powerful piece. What's more? The pawn can only move forward which means it never actually looks back. Drawing inspiration from the same pawn, siblings Bhushita (16, class XII) and Bhavik Ahuja (14, class X) have triumphed in not just chess tournaments, but have helped many self-assumed pawns see the true queen in themselves via Samvedna Chess.
Bhavik is completely absorbed in chess. "He is a better player and he is so into it that when he is angry, chess serves as his therapy," shares Bhushita
Bhavik is a Commonwealth Chess Championship 2017 bronze medalist while Bhushita is Delhi State Chess Champion in the U17 girls' category. Basically, these Delhiites have played so many hours of chess and participated in so many tournaments that they've lost count. It's been a whirlwind of a journey, but even though they put chess on the backburner to focus on education, chess continued to stand at the forefront. So they decided to channelise their love for the sport in a different way — by spreading the love among those who might not have the resources to explore it on their own.
Bhavik and Bhushita with Kiren Rijiju | (Pic: Samvedna Chess)
"Our mother is a full-time social worker and I remember that she used to take us to nearby bastis and we used to play chess with the kids there. Seeing all the positive impact the sport has had on us, we wanted to give back to the sport and introduce it to others as well," says Bhushita. Thus, on December 14-15, 2019, they organised a chess tournament at the Banyan Tree School, Delhi and over 250 budding players were in attendance. Even Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju and MLA Gautam Gambhir graced the event! "We visited their office to invite them but them actually turning up was unbelievable," shares the youngster who, along with her brother, has been trained under International Master Vishal Sareen. All this culminated in an event that helped them raise over a lakh which is now fuelling their online classes. It is at this event that their initiative Samvedna Chess was launched.
Bhushita will be delivering a TEDx talk in June and in the past, has delivered talks on social entrepreneurship at Ramanujan College, Shyam Lal College (both in Delhi), Rajalakshmi Engineering College, Chennai and Sports and Management Research Institute, Kerala
The in-person centres they had started in Raghubir Nagar and Tank Road slums, with the help of Seva Bharati, in January 2020, had to be shut due to the pandemic. But there was the digital avenue that accepted them with open arms. "From our network, we reached out to several coaches and asked them to give merely one hour of their week to the underprivileged," shares Bhushita, while the NGOs they had partnered with like Partham, enrolled the kids. From August 2020, they were successfully able to start online classes with 20 coaches and 350 underprivileged kids across seven states! While the kids from Partham signed up for a short-term course for four months, which concluded in December, team Samvedna conducted online tournaments for them, apart from conducting about ten virtual tournaments which were open for all, plus the workshops as well.
The team with Gautam Gambhir | (Pic: Samvedna Chess)
What these two, who are students of The Shri Ram School, Moulsari, want to do next is take the game to senior citizens. "We can't do it online for them because they are not that savvy, but since the game requires minimum physical movement, we are keen on taking it to them," says Bhushita who has published a book titled Open Your Wardrobe For Answers, on clothing psychology. "What we additionally want to do is bridge the gender gap that exists in the sport. Hence, we encourage more and more to participate in our tournaments and workshops as well," says the teenager.
For more on them check out instagram.com/samvednachess