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. –

NJ Today: Metuchen Junior Girl Scout Troop installs library –


What’s happening and what you need to know in Central Jersey.

Metuchen Junior Girl Scout Troop installs library

Metuchen Junior Girl Scout Troop 80751 is spreading its love for reading to earn a Bronze Award. The girls have coordinated and installed a Little Free Library in Oakland Park in Metuchen to encourage literacy and provide a convenient opportunity with easy access of books for people of all ages. The troop started creating awareness for the program with flyers in shops on Main Street. It also visited kindergartners at Moss School to inform them about the library and presented to other sister scouts locally. Troop members performed an informational skit for the students, read books aloud and helped each student make their own bookmark. Moss students donated close to 50 books to the library.  A grand opening ceremony was held May 5. The library is a small house-looking box in a public place that has books for individuals to borrow or swap.

Raritan Township police blotter

Four individuals were charged by Raritan Township Police with possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana from April 30 through May 6. Charged were Devon Degrasse, 23, of Flemington; Glenn Spearman Jr., 28, of Philadelphia; Nicholas Sapienza, 36, of Elizabeth; and Shanna Kwasnik, 19, of Bushkill, Pennsylvania. Sally Elkholy, 23, of Lambertville, was charged with drunken driving, reckless driving and failing to maintain lane on Route 202 at 3:17 a.m. May 5. Matthew Petras, 39, of Middlesex Borough, was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana and possession of an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle after police found him sleeping in a car parked at Lowe’s at 4:53 p.m. May 5. Nicole Parah, 30, and Jonathan Guild, 30, both of Hamilton, were charged with shoplifting from Walmart at 1:22 p.m. May 5. The two were also charged with possession of heroin and hypodermic syringes. James Picklo, 47, was charged with possession of oxycodone on Route 202 at 1:14 a.m. on May 6.

Man in lady’s clothes sought in theft

Watchung police are seeking a man dressed in woman’s clothes in connection with shoplifting from Old Navy at Watchung Square Mall at 11:50 a.m. May 2. The suspect is described as 5-foot-8, weighing 140 pounds with long black hair, wearing a pink sweater, blue jeans and white shoes. The other suspect was a heavyset woman, about 5-foot-5 with a gray t-shirt and blue jeans. Both fled the store with bags of clothing.


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Music registration open

Registration is open for The Princeton Festival’s popular Music That Tells a Story, a free introduction to opera that includes an interactive workshop, led by professional singer and educator Dr. Rochelle Ellis, plus admission to a fully-staged performance of the Puccini favorite Madama Butterfly. More information and an online enrollment form is available at Participants have a choice of workshop sessions: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 6, in Princeton; 10 a.m. Saturday, June 9, in Trenton; or 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 12, in Lawrenceville. The opera performance takes place at McCarter Theatre in Princeton at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 14. Information on the entire 2018 season of The Princeton Festival is available at

Lance calls for debate on languishing bills

U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-District 7) recently signed a discharge petition calling for a debate and vote on a series of immigration reform bills languishing in the U.S. House. Lance is the first New Jersey Republican to lend his name to this effort. A discharge petition can be brought up only on the first and third Monday of the month when the House is in session. June 25 is the next time the House is in session on one of those Mondays. Visit

Freeholder challenges youth to simultaneous chess games

Somerset County Freeholder Deputy Director Brian D. Levine will challenge up to a dozen chess players from the area schools to a Chess Challenge (simultaneous chess games) at the Mary Jacobs Library, 64 Washington St,, Rocky Hill, part of the Somerset County Library System. The challenge will begin at 5 p.m. Monday, May 14. All are welcome to view the activity. “I love working with kids and I love playing chess,” said Levine, “so this chess exhibition is perfect for me.” The former mayor of Franklin Township, Somerset County, Levine — last year named “Freeholder of the Year” by the New Jersey Conference of Mayors — learned the moves as a seven-year-old when he watched his father and cousin playing chess. He went on to study the game, becoming high school champion at J.P. Stevens in Edison, and top player in the conference in which his high school competed. Before the games begin, the attendees will receive a brief chess lesson form International Chess Master Dean Ippolito, of the Dean of Chess Academy in Branchburg. Anyone who manages to outstrategize Freeholder Levine will receive a gift, complements of the Somerset County Library. Levine is donating half-a-dozen tournament quality chess sets and boards to the library, in addition to giving a “chess pin” to all who challenge him.

Award, scholarship luncheon

The 200 Club of Somerset County has announced the recipients of its 2018 Valor Awards, who will be honored at the 45th annual Valor and Scholarship Luncheon on Wednesday, May 16, at The Palace at Somerset Park, 333 Davidson Ave., Franklin. Valor Award recipients include: Corporal Keith Hermann of the Franklin Township Police Department, Officer John Granahan of the Manville Police Department and Detectives I Michael Leonardi and Stephen Riefler of the Intelligence and Criminal Enterprise Section of the New Jersey State Police. Contact Denise Maria at 908-526-2565. Visit

M&T Bank announces tax credit funding

M&T Bank announced $985,000 in tax credit funding for four deserving nonprofit organizations in New Jersey through the Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit program (NRTC). This investment acts as part of the banks ongoing pledge to help grow and develop neighborhoods throughout its footprint in NJ. The organizations receiving this funding through the tax credit program include: New Jersey Community Development Corporation (NJCDC); Garden State Episcopal Community Development Corporation (GDECDC); Unity Square in New Brunswick, a project of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Metuchen; and Interfaith Neighbors. Visit

The second annual Raritan Valley Habitat for Humanity Rainbow Run 5K was held on April 22, at White Oak Park in Branchburg. (Photo: ~Courtesy of Raritan Valley Habitat for Humanity)

Rainbow Run 5K held

Habitat Youth, a group of civic-minded students from seven high schools in Somerset and Hunterdon counties, hosted the second annual Raritan Valley Habitat for Humanity Rainbow Run 5K on April 22, at White Oak Park in Branchburg. More than 75 participants came out to support the students’ efforts. The Rainbow Run raised more than $1,800, which will help area residents create better lives and financial stability by partnering with Raritan Valley Habitat for Humanity to build affordable homes for their families. If you attend a school in Somerset County or Hunterdon County and are interested in starting a Habitat service club, contact Rebecca Maier at or call 908-704-0016, ext. 18. Information:, 908-704-0016. 

Shown participating in a special presentation are (from right) Tony Rose, Columbia Bank’s first senior vice president, marketing director; Bria Barker, EVERFI’s Financial Education account executive; and Michael Campbell, Columbia’s senior vice president, community development officer. (Photo: ~Courtesy of Columbia Bank)

Columbia Bank receives award

Columbia Bank has been awarded the 2018 Financial Capability Innovation Award from EVERFI, Inc. for sponsoring financial education programs at several local high schools. EVERFI’s online course, funded by Columbia Bank at no cost to schools districts and students, uses interactive activities to promote financial literacy. Columbia currently sponsors the EVERFI financial literacy program at Passaic County Technical Institute (PCTI), Hawthorne High School, Fair Lawn High School, South Plainfield High School and Maple Shade High School. Visit

READ: NJ Today: Central Jersey Daily Rundown, Saturday, May 12

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Do You Really Understand Positional Chess? –

For those that enjoyed my previous article, Test Your Positional Chess, let’s do it again. It’s fun to follow positional concepts, and it’s also extremely instructive.

Please keep in mind that these puzzles aren’t like usual tactical puzzles. You usually won’t have to find the “one and only one” move since the position might offer several reasonable choices. So, if you think you found the right move but the software says nyet, keep trying.

Also, this isn’t for 1000-rated players or for masters; it’s for everyone. After all, when you’re playing a serious game you’ll need to deal with the game’s complexity (or lack thereof) whether you like it or not. Anyway, the real goal is to understand the position and THEN and ONLY THEN look for moves that cater to the position’s needs.

puzzle light bulb

I’ve made sure that all the puzzles have notes, so make sure you take a look at them since those are often the key to improvement.

Of course, you don’t have to agonize over the puzzles. Just click on the “?” at the left-bottom of the puzzle and the puzzle-board will open up its wonders.

One other thing: At the end of the puzzle (in my notes) I give the puzzle’s main LESSONS. So please take a look at them.








1.c4 e6 2.Nc3 d5 3.d4 Be7 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 O-O 7.Rc1 dxc4 8.e3 c5 9.Bxc4 cxd4 10.exd4 Nc6 11.O-O