Coach Parag Raiji
Chess Coach Parag Raiji - Moulding tender minds
pawn stand isolated but still hopes to topple the queen with a do-or-die
effort. says popular chess coach Parag Raiji who has evolved
a gentle and impressionable method of teaching chess to young children.
Raiji has a tendency to personify the pieces and pawns on the chess
board, and guises the progress of the game with a fairy tale story.
His tender guidelines on chess makes an enjoyable learning experience
for young children. Raiji conducts individual coaching classes for
children aged 7 years and above at his residence in Vile Parle.
Some of his highly acclaimed pupils include Aniruddha Khandelwal
and Lolit Venkateshvallu.
56 year old Parag Raiji took to the game of chess after he witnessed
the famous duel between Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer way back
in 1970. Raiji jocularly remarked that the tantrums of Fischer attracted
him to chess at the age of 30. Born and brought up in Mumbai, Raiji
completed his matriculation from Pupil Own school in Khar and majored
in economics from M S University, Baroda. Raiji is a bachelor, who
earns his livelihood by investing in shares. He also loves to spend
time at his farmhouse in Palghar.
Being a book lover, Raiji scanned through the works of Irving
Chernev and Fed Reinfield, which helped him to become a self-taught
exponent of chess. He exercised his cerebral powers in the Bombay
selection tournament in 1973, and 1974 when he locked horns with
some of the best rated players like Vinod Solanki, Mohammed Ayub,
Abhay Thipsay, and Satish Thipsay. Raiji was quite modest in his
self-appraisal... Chess has changed a lot and with the
introduction of new techniques. Even today, I am essentially a learner
of the game rather than a coach.
his thoughts on the game, Raiji said, Chess is a different
kind of mental exercise; it teaches us that we must not underestimate
our opponent. We should make calculated moves with considerable
patience and confidence to win the game. Raiji also adds,
Indians can take a leaf from Russian schools, which
encourages chess among the children and thus helps them to face
the challenges of life. He feels that Indian schools should
also organise competitive tournaments in large numbers for the young
children to showcase their talent.
Raiji thinks that chess is blessed with generous sponsorship in
India as corporates like Zandu Pharmaceutical, Lignite Corporation,
TISCO, and public sector banks like Central Bank and United Commercial
Bank have regularly patronised the game at the premier level.
About world champion Vishwanathan Anand, Raiji said, Anand
had won the World Championships which was boycotted by Garry Kasparov
and Kramnik. So I think, Anand has a point to prove as he had lost
to Kasparov on a previous occasion. Even if he defeats Kramnik,
it is as good as beating Kasparov. However, it must be admitted
that he has certainly made an impact in the country by winning the
World Championships as Indian sportperson are not known to be great
achievers at the highest level.
Raiji has witnessed a spurt in the expectations of the parents
who want their children to trail the footsteps of world champion
Anand. Raiji exudes a youthful charm when he packed a punch in parallel
excitement and said, I want at least one of my students
to be mad about chess just like me.
By: Wasim Siddiqui
Photographs: Vinayak Prabhu