In the times of lockdown, learn chess online

In the times of coronavirus, virtual lessons have taken over the chess training circuit, but there has been no compromise on quality.

Chess

Unlike football or cricket, chess can easily be taught online.   -  Getty Images

When initial reports of the coronavirus outbreak emerged from China a few weeks ago, Sushrutha Reddy felt he should be prepared for the worst. It didn’t matter that he was living in Bengaluru, far away from the epicentre of the pandemic.

As a chess coach, he knew that he would have to explore ways of reaching out to his trainees online. And when India went under lockdown from March 24 midnight, Reddy was flooded with requests for online tutorials.

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It’s been a similar story across the globe. Virtual lessons have taken over the chess training circuit, but there has been no compromise on quality.

An online chess training session in progress.   -  Special Arrangement

 

Unlike football or cricket, chess can easily be taught online. R.B. Ramesh, India's best-known trainer in chess, has been providing virtual lessons for the last 15 years. “Normally I get new students during the school vacation, but more than 50 – including a few from overseas – have joined over the last couple of weeks,” says Sushrutha. “I now conduct lessons online to some 85 students right through the day.”

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Chennai-based T.J. Suresh Kumar says the spurt in numbers of new students is largely due to the parents' belief that chess will keep their children engaged throughout the day. “Coaches like me don't have any other options, of course, but to go online,” he says.

Pravin Thipsay lists out the advantages of online coaching. “In a city like Mumbai, where I am living, travelling can be such a huge problem,” says the veteran Gradmaster. “Now you can train someone even till 10 p.m. Of late, I  get more students online than offline.”

Before the lockdown, Ramesh, spent most of his time at his academy, Chess Gurukul. He trains some of India's bright prospects such as R. Praggnanandhaa and Aravindh Chithambaram. “Now I teach all of them online,” he says. There are multiple platforms to reach out to your students. Skype seems to be preferred the choice, since it is free, he adds.

But Sushrutha finds Zoom works better when you have to teach a large group of students. “I had also tried Cisco Webex, which too was useful,” he says. “Zoom may not be free, but when you have a reasonable number of students, you could easily cover the cost.”

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