BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha organised an online chess tournament on Saturday 10 April 2021 in which more than 345 children aged between 6 and 14 years participated from across the UK and Europe.
Prior to the tournament, a four-week online workshop was organised to help teach the children to play chess and refresh the knowledge of those who had played before. These workshops covered the basics of chess and also incorporated some advanced strategies for those in the higher age groups.
The tournament began with volunteers appreciating the children for their eagerness and excitement, as well as highlighting how many of the skills attained from chess can be applied in their daily life. Sadguru Pujya Ishwarcharandas Swami also sent a recorded video message of encouragement and inspiration.
The peer structure of the competition enabled each player to face opponents in their own age group – 6 to 8 years, 9 to 11 years, and 12 to 14 years. The children participated in several matches in a rotation system with many winning the 10-minute timer games with ample time to spare.
8-year-old Deetya Patel, from South East London, shared, “I really wanted to learn chess this summer but no one in my family knew it well. The tournament gave me the opportunity to start my learning. Classes were definitely very helpful. I hope to continue practising going forward and can now play with my family members as they have learned as well!”
Sima Shingadia, a mother from Birmingham, added, “Our daughter had never played chess before and we had thought of putting her into a chess club at school but due to Covid, that wasn’t possible. The sessions provided by the Balika Mandal were fantastic, which meant that our daughter learned something new and has now been inspired to continue playing. In fact, we all learned together as a family!! Many thanks to the team of volunteers for putting this together!”
Parimal Patel, one of the lead volunteers for the initiative, explained, “Chess is a brilliant way to teach young children so many things early on – not just strategic thinking and problem-solving skills, but also things like how to win and lose, and that every action carries a consequence. Through our Bal-Balika Mandal activities, we aim to develop well-rounded individuals of society, and chess is just one of the many ways we can help young children do this.”