Even cancer can’t quell his passion for chess | Goa News

PANAJI: For more than two decades, Purushottam Kantak has never missed his daily routine: waking up at 5 a.m. for three hours without a break, solving problems, reading books and studying online gaming in order to become a best chess player and to train young people to become champions.
But over the past 10 days, Kantak – the only Goan to win the state chess championship in junior, senior and veteran categories – has slowed down a bit. He can’t wake up at the scheduled time, and even if he does, his wife Geeta, also a chess player, won’t allow him to put his body to the test.
Having just undergone the third surgery for cancer, his punishment program could prove fatal. After all, this 58-year-old man has been battling the disease for seven years.
Kantak is unfazed. “Chess is like a virus. Once it enters your body, you cannot get rid of it. My personal belief is that chess helps you forget everything, even personal problems,” a Kantak told looking frail to YOU ​​in his residence in Margao.
He was first diagnosed with oral cancer in 2013, had surgery and was back on his feet. In 2018, it was discovered that he had colon cancer, so another round of chemotherapy and recovery session began. Just when he looked like he could breathe easily, the cancer reappeared earlier this year, this time weakening his fight.
What hasn’t diminished is his love for the sport and the ambition to produce a champion. It was this desire that drove him to continue at his Brain Power Goa Chess Academy, where he leads advanced training and helps shape the future of Goa’s next champion.
“He cannot live without failures. On the bed, while the chemotherapy is in progress, he held a chess book and studied, forgetting what he was going through. While traveling by car (to Panaji Hospital), he solves chess problems or uses the magnetic chessboard he has to play,” says Geeta.
Until three months ago he was also an active chess player. He traveled to Dharmasthala in Karnataka where he won the best veteran chess player award. In December he finished an honorable eighth among 200 ranked players at the All Goa Chess Championship in Margao, and more famously in the same year he finished fourth in the All Goa State Fide Rating Chess Tournament with selection and was among the players selected for national championships.
“I miss playing. When you play, the players (you coach) respect you more. They say, ‘you beat me and show’. That’s exactly what I do, although they have all the latest computers and software,” he says.
Even today, Kantak has not given up and is waiting for May when the Goa International Open Grandmaster Chess – which will be named after former Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar – is played here and he will face the best.
“Chess keeps my mind active and you can control all your illnesses with your mind. There is a new immune system in the body that you need to activate,” says Kantak, who won his first junior title in 1980 and became champion of state in 2001.
What Kantak, a lawyer by profession and grandson of the famous Goan poet Padma Shri Bakibab Borkar, would also miss are visits to nearby public primary schools or slums where he can teach chess to those who don’t. cannot afford to pay the full price. costs.
In Kantak’s eyes, a seven-year-old at the academy is the latest chess prodigy in Goa. He saw that spark and talent. For someone who sleeps through school three times a week and trains at the academy, the youngster is tailor-made for success and Kantak is doing his best.
“Every Dronacharya dreams of having an Arjun. My dream is to find someone who will say that Kantak taught me and made me a champion. That is my only dream,” Kantak says.

Comments are closed.