SEMENYIH: The first ever National Junior Chess Competition for Tamil Schools was held on the 1st of October, 2016, at The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus. The tournament was organised by Sekolah Rendah Jenis Kebangsaan (Tamil) Ladang Semenyih and its Parent Teacher Association (PTA). It was held from 8.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. at the F1 Teaching Block.
The tournament had a total of 295 participants, with students from Selangor, Johor, Kedah, Negeri Sembilan, Melaka, Pahang, Perak and Pulau Pinang. The tournament was divided into two categories; the under-12 boys’ category and the under-12 girls’ category.
In the boys’ category, Yuvaneshwaaran Chandra Sekaran from SJK (T) Durian Tunggal, Melaka emerged as the champion, with Dinesh Ramakrishnan from SJK (T) Wawasan Convent, Negeri Sembilan and Amirthen Yohann Sinnapar of SJK (T) Nilai, Negeri Sembilan claiming the second and third spots respectively.
Over in the girls’ category, the tournament was won by Vidhya Mahindran of SJK (T) Ladang Seremban, Negeri Sembilan. Hohviyadevi Ramaraj of SJK (T) Menglembu, Perak was the first runner-up and Barathi Mahindran of SJK (T) Ladang Seremban came in third.
At the same time, a seminar for Tamil school teachers was conducted by Mr Lohanathan Ponniah, a retired civil servant turned chess teacher. The seminar was conducted with the aim to educate the teachers on the ways to develop chess in their respective schools. Mr Lohanathan repeatedly stressed the importance of chess in developing the mind.
It’s a process of developing the mind, to think critically and logically. You’re required to think outside the box when you play chess.
The tournament was the brainchild of Mr Justin Pereira, who runs a chess academy in Semenyih. He had started working on organising a tournament six to eight months ago.
“The objective of this competition is to increase the awareness amongst the Tamil school students. I would say that the awareness of chess among the students is close to none. That is the main reason I wanted to organise an event like this,” Mr Justin added.
Mr Justin’s comments were echoed by the principal of SRJK (T) Ladang Semenyih, Madam Rajeshwary Raman Pillai. According to her, Tamil school students were generally more involved in sports such as football, hockey and badminton, as opposed to chess. She plans to introduce chess to more schools and to instil in the students the importance of chess. She believes that the tournament has achieved its aim, after hearing the comments of the parents.
The parents’ comments are an indication of the success of this event. Some of them have never heard of such a tournament in other schools. We have participants all the way from Penang and Johor, and it motivates us to see them asking us to organise this tournament annually.
In order to capture the attention of the Tamil school fraternity, as well as the Malaysian Indian community, the organisers reached out to the Tamil media industry. Mr Justin and Mdm Rajeshwary had both appeared on a Tamil language television programme which was aired on Astro, to promote the tournament. They had also put up advertisements on Tamil language radio stations.
“We were lucky to have this event sponsored by the Finance Ministry as well as the Genting Group, amongst others. We also published a programme book and rented out advertisement spaces in order to raise funds,” said Mr Justin.
The organisers thanked the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus for providing the venue and facilities to carry out the tournament. They hope to be able to organise more tournaments of such nature, and ultimately provide the catalyst to produce top level chess players and possible chess grandmasters.
By Saran Anandan
Photographs by Ramankutty