KEN Chess Academy Aims To Groom International Chess Players From Ichalkaranji

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Nikunj Bagdia, Director, KEN Enterprises

For Nikunj Bagdia, Director, KEN Enterprises, the aim of setting up KEN Chess Academy is two-fold. One, to put Ichalkaranji on the international Chess map. And two, to create awareness in today’s youth that textile is a timeless industry just like Chess. 

Read on to know more about how KEN Chess Academy is striding ahead. 

KEN Chess Academy is organising a Chess tournament exclusively for the textile industry. Why Chess? 
Yes, KEN Enterprises, alongwith Standon Consulting and Textile Excellence, is organising an online Chess tournament on February 27, 2022, specifically for the textile industry.

There are many reasons for choosing Chess.

We are fabric exporters to almost 20 countries and I personally travel to meet all my customers across the globe. In every single country I have found that the new generation is not interested in the textile business. Everybody says this is a sunset industry with no new blood coming in. In fact in a few places I was told that people opt for the textile industry as a last option, when they do not get a job in other industries. Though true, it still makes you think are we that dumb being in this industry with such a long legacy.

Actually all the major business houses in India and quite a few across the world have started off in textiles and then pivoted to other industries. Tata, Birla, Ambani, Dalmia, Adani in India; Toyota, Berkshire Hathaway, Inditex, Ikea, etc across the world have their origins in the textile business.

Chess is just a way of showcasing the brain power of the industry and building self belief amongst the participants that we are second to none as far as intelligence goes. Also, it is a way of creating awareness amongst today’s youngsters that we are a timeless industry just like Chess.

You have also set up KEN Chess Academy. What was your objective and philosophy for starting this institute?
KEN Chess academy formally started in November 2021 with 16 children and two coaches. This is a CSR initiative of the KEN Group. With two years of Covid and schools being primarily online, children are spending too much time in front of the screens. The main idea is to pull away younger children from the screens and video games and get them to play chess and build on their inherent intellect.

Smaller towns like Ichalkaranji do not have the best sporting facilities or infrastructure. Parents here do feel that their children lose out on opportunities available in bigger cities. However, a sport like Chess doesn’t need big infrastructure and with everything going online, we can even get the best of International coaches to train our children online, once the basic training is done.

We want Ichalkaranji, also known as the Manchester of Maharashtra, to have a culture of Chess amongst the youngsters and aim to groom International players from this region.

Our motto at the academy is “Today’s preparation is tomorrow’s achievement”.

It’s just been three months since the Academy became operational, and you’ve already done a number of activities. Can you tell us about the same?
Yes, the Academy was established only three months ago and has already held one big on-table tournament with 200 participants in Ichalkaranji, which was very well attended, with participants coming from as far as Delhi and Chennai. A bigger 400 participant tournament was planned in January but had to be postponed due to Covid restrictions. We have regular weekly tournaments at the Academy and are promoting the culture of Chess amongst children from the young age of 5 years. The head coach has already prepared two girls who are now playing at the national level and we are targeting atleast half a dozen more children from the academy to play various national tournaments next year.

How does Chess benefit a player in profession and life?
Chess is simply the most beautiful game about life. Even though it is played on 64 squares with 32 pieces, it covers almost everything you face in personal or professional life. It is all about strategy, planning, execution, surprises, decision making, thinking ahead, going back to the drawing board after a surprise move, patience, holding your nerve, not get guided by your emotions and most important that no matter how well you play, you have to wait for the opponent to make a mistake to win.

My favourite quote on Chess which completely applies to life is – “Work hard enough and every pawn is a potential Queen.”

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