R. Raghavan, 31, has been coaching underprivileged students in chess for free
K. Jeywin, a Standard IV student, and M.K. Shaoren, of Standard VI, are locked in a game of chess. Both make their moves — Ruy Lopez (Pawn e4) and Sicilian Defence (Pawn c5) — even as Nithilan S, an LKG student, keenly watches the contest. And the two are monitored by their coach R. Raghavan at his home in Avadi.
Mr. Raghavan, 31, has been coaching underprivileged and a few differently abled students in chess free of cost for the past few months. An engineer, he worked at a private engineering college in the city for four years before losing his job.
“After seeing Viswanathan Anand, I learnt chess on my own from books, and have attended many tournaments. I am also an international chess rated player. Last year, I saw Sakthivel, a Standard I student from Arakkonam, playing chess, and his family wanted someone to coach him because it did not have sufficient funds. So I started travelling to Arakkonam whenever I was free and coached him,” says Mr. Raghavan, whose father S. Raju is a retired MTC driver and mother R. Vijayalakshmi is a housewife.
In November 2019, Sakthivel took part at an official world record attempt and received the Unico world record certificate. But the lockdown began a few months later, and Mr. Raghavan could not travel. “I also trained Hamilton Prabhu, a differently abled boy, and he took part in State-level tournaments,” he says.
Now, he teaches underprivileged students who approach him. “I go to their homes if they do not have money to travel,” he says.
Suganthy Vinodhini, founder of the Arakkonam-based Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Educational Trust, who coordinated Sakthivel’s coaching, said the coaching was of great help to the boy. “His parents are daily wage earners, and his aunt was teaching him chess. Owing to COVID-19, the coaching has stopped,” she says.
R. Arunselvam, 9, and his sister R. Azhagumathi, 10, students of a government school at Perambur Loco Works, were also coached by Mr. Raghavan. “He told us that more than money, he would be happy to see the children come up in life,” said their mother R. Mala.
Mr. Raghavan said he wishes to create many young champions. “I can also teach children across the country either in person or offline. It would be convenient if a time slot is allotted on TV channels as people across the country can see it and learn,” he said, adding that he could have helped more people had he continued to have a job.