Former teacher and internationally renowned chess player, Raghavan brings chess to underprivileged children
In addition to training children in and around his neighborhood, the chess player has also taught the game to children with disabilities through Zoom and WhatsApp sessions during the pandemic. Play is a great life skill for children looking to keep their minds healthy, he notes, adding that children with different abilities are often natural to play, which is nothing more than ‘a battle of brains.
“Children with disabilities have exceptional visual abilities. Their left and right brain function is impeccable. And it helps that failures are about the mind and not just endurance, ”he explains. Raghavan, who regularly teaches up to 20 children, uses colorful boards to harness the visual senses of his students.
“Children are good at geometric patterns. So, by appealing to their visual senses, I teach them the basics and coordination. I teach them the board every day and I try to make the board colorful too, to awaken their visual senses, ”says Raghavan, who remembers his first date with the game.
His eidetic memory attracted him to the format of chess according to the self-taught chess player. “Since my childhood, I have a good memory power. And I wanted to do something with it. And when I was studying in college, I saw a lot of them play chess with each other. I would sit and watch their movements and remember each notation. It was then that I realized that chess was the right solution for me, ”he recalls, adding that he has played over 150 national and international tournaments in the country. Financial downturns further prompted him to give up his dream of being an artist and fulfill a new dream of becoming a teacher instead, he adds. “I have no academic training in chess and I learned only through books and videos. I want to pass this knowledge on to children who can gain something from it in tournaments,” he said, adding: “My dream is to create a bigger organization to help children from these backgrounds in different games like chess and cubes. Opportunities are everything and these children deserve them all.
Failures in the pandemic
While the popularity of the game, among other board games, has skyrocketed during the pandemic, thanks to shows like The Queen’s Gambit, the reach could be much greater, Raghavan notes. “Although people may have become more used to the game during this time, I still think it could become more popular if it is learned with discipline,” he adds.