Grandmaster Iniyan's marathon effort raises funds in fight against COVID-19

Grandmaster P. Iniyan's online chess event raised a total of Rs 1.21 lakh for efforts towards battling the coronavirus pandemic.

GM Iniyan Paneerselvam clocked over 74 hours and played online against 271 rivals.   -  Special Arrangement

These days of lockdown in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, has brought out the human side of mankind. Numerous instances have come to light where ordinary people have come up with extraordinary gestures without expecting anything in return.

From the world of sports, too, players have joined hands to make contributions towards charity initiatives in these trying times. But how often do we see, or hear about, a 17-year-old small-town boy silently doing his bit to make a difference?

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Between the afternoons of May 15 and May 18, spread over 74 hours, Grandmaster Iniyan Paneerselvam played online against 271 rivals, to raise money in the fight against the pandemic. The entire proceeds, from the entry-fee (minimum Rs. 150) and other donations, went to the PM CARES Fund and the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.

For the record, Erode-based Iniyan’s selfless gesture raised Rs. 1,21,199. In addition, Iniyan contributed Rs. 20,000 of his own for the welfare of the Erode district.

Hence, country’s 61st Grandmaster's dream stood realised, with ample support from a dedicated team of well-wishers headed by his coach, noted trainer K. Visweswaran.

“More than playing, winning or losing, I wanted to contribute to this cause by using my chess skills. There were many participants, who were unrated or low rated players, too. Out of these even if a small percentage of players continue to pursue chess, I’ll feel I’ve done my bit,” said Iniyan, a lad, mature beyond his age.

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The games followed blitz time-control of three minutes plus two-second increment per move, on the clock. Eventually, an understandably exhausted Iniyan won 250 games, lost nine and drew 12.

Iniyan’s opponents included two Grandmaster-elects, several International Masters and players with proven credentials. His prominent victims were Woman National champion and International Master Bhakti Kulkarni, GM-Elect Arjun Kalyan, IM Krishna Teja, IM G. B. Harshavardhan and Woman Grandmaster Srija Seshadari.

Among those who managed to beat Iniyan were former National champion and GM-elect G. Akash, M. V. Lakshmi Narayanan, Nitish Belurkar, Rakshit Srinivasan, Bharath Kalyan, Siva Mahadevan and Anustoop Biswar.

In all, besides players from 11 Indian states, Iniyan’s challengers connected from USA, Australia, UAE, Germany, Denmark, Scotland, Kuwait, Singapore and Switzerland.

The forwards from the fund-raiser went to the PM Cares Fund and the Chief Minister's Relief Fund.   -  Special Arrangement

 

Several noted Grandmasters greeted and sent video messages to Iniyan. They included former World champion Vladimir Kramnik, P. Harikrishna, Aravindh Chithambaram and D. Harika besides many others from the chess world.

During the event, Iniyan played past midnight and resumed around 9, the following morning. “For those 8-9 hours, I couldn’t get proper sleep since I focussed so hard for hours. But, at the end of it all, I’m satisfied to have played my part, using chess to help encourage budding players from small villages, in Tamil Nadu.

“Chess has given me a lot and my parents always speak of doing something in return. At challenging times like these, I kept looking at the possibility of making a small difference. Honestly, I owe it to the volunteers who offered their help and made the event possible,” came the acknowledgement from the youngster.

According to Visweswaran, who supervised the backstage operations and support for the event, “There were several volunteers who worked with dedication to ensure the event was a sucess. The Internet Chess Club (ICC) hosted the event on its platform and provided all the technical support.

"We were up against several challenges, including the connectivity issues faced by the participants and getting a group of players to connect at a stipulated time. But over all, full credit to Iniyan for going way beyond his comfort level and contributing incredibly to a cause.”

Indeed, Iniyan showed how challenges could be met with an uncompromising, positive approach.

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