How an Obscure Sport Is Helping Transform the Lives of Indian Girls – Pacific Standard


On a misty winter morning at a gym in Kolkata, Pushpa Jha, 15, hits a punching bag with all her might, sweat trickling down her cheeks and temples, while her mother looks on.

Jha had severe malnutrition when she was younger, which affected her respiratory system badly, stunting her growth. Tiny and frail, she’s an unlikely candidate for a gold medal at the World Chess Boxing Amateur Championships, but she won that very title in May of 2017. Now she has set her sights on the 2018 championships, to be held this July in Kolkata.

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Her coach, Montu Das, president of Chess Boxing Association of India, says that she has something that many players do not—a desire to succeed against all odds. Her mother, Golapi Jha, agrees.

“She forgets everything when she is up in the ring; she has been wounded and injured twice already during matches, and she often has blood flowing through her nose during physical stress, yet she is adamant to continue,” Golapi Jha, a domestic worker, says.

Chess boxing was invented by Dutch artist Iepe Rubingh in 2003; it combines the intellectual skills required to win a chess match with the physical strength needed to defeat an opponent in the boxing ring. Players face off in 11 alternating bouts of chess and boxing until one of them is either outwitted on the board or knocked out in the ring.

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Mamedyarov's Unstoppable Pawns –

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov’s result in the last Candidates’ tournament has cemented his position as one of the world’s very best players.

In a year-old article, we already discussed what makes his chess so sparkling and powerful. Today I would like to talk about one of his favorite chess patterns, which perfectly fits the description from the above-mentioned article: “he uses a well-known classical concept as an inspiration and then produces a much more sophisticated and beautiful gem.”

chess pawns

The following masterpiece by GM Bronstein is one of those games that a proverbial “Russian schoolboy must know.”

White’s daring piece sacrifice allowed him to create a powerful pawn center, which simply steamrolled Black’s position. Yes, Black’s play could be improved on many occasions (like his dubious move 10…c5?! that only made White’s center pawns stronger), but it is White’s brilliant concept that really matters here. In many positions it is absolutely worth it to sacrifice a minor piece for a couple of pawns that are going to push your opponent off the board!

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

We can find this pattern in many games by GM Mamedyarov!

Looks pretty easy, right? Now try to play like Mamedyarov in the following position:

And here finish the game in style just like Shakhriyar did!

Since Mamedyarov is a very aggressive attacking player, it is quite common in his games that such far advanced pawns help him to checkmate the opponent’s king.

Now that you know how dangerous Mamedyarov’s passed pawns can be, you’ll appreciate the following game. To some extent this was one of the biggest achievements of Fabiano Caruana in the tournament of his life where he won the right to challenge Magnus Carlsen. When I saw the position where Mamedyarov had three passed pawns, I thought that Caruana was doomed.

Fortunately, he managed to do the impossible: stop Shakhriyar’s pawns! And that eventually sealed the tournament.

Incoming Grade 8 student tops U-14 in National Age Group Chess tilt – Rappler

Jasper Faeldonia scores 7.5 points out of 11 rounds to win his first national tournament

Published 2:38 PM, May 14, 2018

Updated 2:38 PM, May 14, 2018

CHAMPION. Jasper Faeldonia wins the Under-14 category in the National Age Group Chess Championships. Photo from Pinoy ChessClub Online's Facebook page

CHAMPION. Jasper Faeldonia wins the Under-14 category in the National Age Group Chess Championships. Photo from Pinoy ChessClub Online’s Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – Sometimes, one just needs a little push and the results of that push can prove to be a pleasant surprise.

National Master Rudy Ibanez persisted, but in a gentle way, that 13-year-old Jasper Faeldonia was ripe for the National Age Group Chess Championships in Capiz. Even he, however, did not expect the young man to win the Under-14 ahead of the favorite, Michael Concio Jr of Dasmariñas.

Faeldonia won with 7.5 points out of 11 rounds to win his first national tournament. He had the same score as Concio, who was a finalist in last year’s national championship but a better tiebreak gave the incoming Grade 8 student from Arellano University the victory.

“I was not expecting since I saw good players there but I relied on his hardworking character,” said Ibanez through a Facebook exchange. “It’s luck being first.”

Faeldonia had only won silver medals in the 2014 Milo National Little Olympics and the 2017 Palarong Pambansa. In the 2017 NCAA high school division, he won a gold medal playing board 5, which is as a reserve.

There were several players with FIDE titles who did not have to play the national finals, along with some players who will be sponsored by their cities or province.

But strong players, like Daniel Quizon, 14, played in the Under-20 division where he may play in next month’s Asean age group chess championship in Davao. Another one was Al-Basher Buto, who played in the Under-8 division and dominated.

Cherrylyn, Jasper’s mother, said in a text message that her son “was excited playing in his first national tournament.”

Jasper has a quality which is not often seen among some young players who prefer a waiting style. He is aggressive and knows when to take calculated risks, said Ibanez.

“He has lots of room for improvement. (He is) hardworking and never missed practice,” said Ibanez. “For me, this attitude is important.”

Faeldonia, who learned chess at the age of 6, idolizes world champion Magnus Carlsen and Wesley So, his mother said. In So’s case, Jasper’s mother said “he was inspired because So became a strong player at a young age.”

Jasper’s mother said they would be paying a call on Odiongan Mayor Trina Frimalo in Romblon on Monday, May 14, to express their thanks in helping her son. But, for the big event in Davao, Jasper’s mother said the National Chess Federation of the Philippines will be paying for his trip.

It could be the start of something good for the boy who doesn’t miss chess practice. –