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Coming soon: Chess exams at Gujarat schools

It won't just be (a+b)2 but students of government schools in the district of Ahmedabad will have another subject that deals with alphabets and numbers in their annual exams next year — chess. Atreyo Mukhopadhyay reports.

india Updated: Sep 10, 2009 00:37 IST
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay

It won't just be (a+b)2 but students of government schools in the district of Ahmedabad will have another subject that deals with alphabets and numbers in their annual exams next year — chess.

After being introduced as a subject for eighth and ninth standard students in over 1500 schools by the state government last year, chess is set to make it to the question papers in 2010 although knowing your d4 or e5 won't be mandatory for promotion.

“It has been a successful programme and as part of expansion plans, students will have chess in their examination papers next year,” Gujarat State Chess Association (GSCA) vice-president Mayur Patel told HT. “How we carry out the operation will be decided at a meeting with teachers in December.”

Patel informed that chess would be a “subsidiary subject” like Physical Education or Sanskrit. Students have to appear in these exams, but the marks they score in them are not counted in the total.

Patel said that adding chess to the annual exams was an opportunity to assess how the students are responding to the programme. “We might have questions on rules of chess, something in practical and could also give them situations and ask what the best move is.”

Some private schools have chess in their curriculum but it's compulsory for government schools in Ahmedabad to teach the sport in the eighth and ninth standards and mandatory for students to attend the eight periods they have every month.

Gujarat has one GM in Tejas Bakre, just one IM in Valay Parikh and a handful of rated players but it's the only state to have initiated such an exercise. It's also the first instance of a government school in India having some sport in the syllabus.

The Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank funds the programme and spent close to Rs 30 lakh in providing chess kits including CDs to the schools and training the teachers. At present, the students are taught a beginner's course designed by the GSCA.

Chief Minister Narendra Modi masterminded the plan after a trip to Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan and birthplace of many Grandmasters including Garry Kasparov. Happy with the experiment in Ahmedabad, the state government is planning to expand and the district of Saurashtra is the next destination, possibly in 2010.

Laxman becomes India's 20th GM

On a day India found its 20th Grandmaster in R.R. Laxman, GM Le Quang Liem of Vietnam beat Uzbek GM Anton Filippov with black pieces on the top board to emerge sole leader with 7.5 points and clear favourite for the title after the ninth and penultimate round of the Kolkata Open chess event.

Half-a-point behind the leader was GM Viktor Laznicka, but last-round pairings and colour of pieces the players will have demand a couple of upsets on the top two boards for the Czech to defend his title. Laznicka will have black against top-seed GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan, while Liem will have the advantage of playing with white against Indian IM S. Satyapragyan, who is rated well below him.

Laxman needed a draw with white against GM Rauf Mamedov of Azerbaijan to secure his third and final norm and got it after 23 moves. He had got his previous norms in Dubai in 2008 and in Gurgaon last January. “Although I knew I would get it, missing the final norm narrowly a few times was frustrating,” he said.

GM norm for Grover

There was good news for New Delhi youngster Sahaj Grover too, who bagged his maiden GM norm after a draw with IM Sriram Jha.