Category Archives: Inspirational Kids

Chess championship tournament features one female player

Neha Sharan receives her cash prize from Dallas Chess Secretary Barbara Swafford as Tournament Director Luis Salinas looks on

The 86th Annual Southwest Open Chess Championship, sanctioned by the Texas Chess Association (TCA) and hosted by the Dallas Chess Club (DCC), was held at the Doubletree by Hilton hotel in Irving from September 4 to September 7.

The tournament was broken down into Open, Reserve, Novice and Scholastic Sections for chess enthusiasts from grades K-12. COVID-19 protocols were being used, as no one was allowed in the building, the practice or the active rooms without a mask.

Sharangopi Jayaraj of Plano, who is the father of the only female player in the tournament, said of his daughter, 11 year-old Neha Sharan, that, “She’s been playing about three years. She got interested in chess and we took her to a tournament in second or third grade. She won fourth place, so I thought I thought she might be a natural in chess.

“She goes to Rice Middle School. Right now, she is ranked 25th in her class in the U.S., so I think that she will keep going. She likes that I like it and that we are supporting her wherever she goes. She’s in the Reserve Category, which I think is 1400 to 1800. She’s [ranked] 1453,” said Jayaraj.

“I just wanted to say a few words about why we think that running this event is safe,” said Tom Crane, President of the Texas Chess Association (TCA). “Number one, as you see by the pictures, everyone is wearing a mask. Number two, no one is touching each other. We’re using common sense. We have a large jug of hand sanitizer for anybody [to use]. We have a disinfectant spray that we spray the pieces with at the end of each round.

These protocols worked well in the last tournament that TCA was able to hold, back in July.

At the end of the tournament, the winners were: Justin Joseph Sarkar from New York (first place in the Open Category); Shaun Graham from Oklahoma (first place in the Reserve Category); and Derek Hoover from Richardson (first place in the Novice Category).

Chess inspires 17-year-old student to help others locally and internationally: PART 2

17 year old Anirudh Ganesh talks about giving back. Read the first part of his story HERE.


“I also want to give a fair share of giving back,” said Anirudh. “I have pretty good experience coaching and teaching Novice players because I teach my brother. So, I thought I would start these camps, starting out with my local area here in Dallas. I got many kids from different schools to come to the camps. At first, I charged a fee and donated the proceeds to a charity foundation.

“Then I thought that if I really wanted to branch out to other places, I needed to do it for free,” Anirudh said. “I wanted to target third world countries where they don’t have access to these kinds of things as much. So, I started my AG Chess Academy.”

“I basically got a sponsor from a corporation called Voice Snap. They are a technology company focusing on voice-based products and solutions for enterprises and K-12 schools.They helped me build this [Chess Academy] and they also helped me bring in kids from third world countries because their product is aligned with schools and these kinds of places. I got a lot of kids primarily from Tanzania and Uganda. I had about 50 kids who came to my free online sessions.

“I use ChessBase to teach these kids. I have material ready before each class. I go through the basic concepts, and I split it into two sections, where I have ‘beginner beginners,’ which are the kids that don’t know how to play. Then I have Novice students, who have a basic understanding of the game, but need help getting to the next level,” Anirudh explained.

“I think it’s much more difficult to be a coach [rather than a student]. As a student, I’d just be listening to the coach telling me everything. But as the instructor, I have to be ready throughout the entire thing. I have to prepare for the sessions, and it’s a little more effort required for instructing,” Anirudh said.

“Honestly, I feel like it’s easier to teach in person over the board. Online is a little bit harder, but there’s a lot of great software available. It’s not too bad because in this day and age, many kids are actually playing more online than playing in person because there are so many Chess websites like ChessKid.com and Chess.com. A lot of these websites allow kids to play with other people just with a click of a button. I’m sure they’re used to seeing the Chessboard on the screen, so it’s not too difficult for kids to understand what’s on the screen. For me, I find it much more fun and engaging to do it over the board,” said Anirudh.

But wait! There’s more that this extraordinary young man has accomplished.

“I also direct tournaments. I passed the certification exam for local TD [Tournament Director] status, so I can officially conduct any tournaments here. There are 2 types of TDs: One type does all the work on the back end [using the computer to match players] and then you have your Floor TDs who make sure everything is running smoothly, there’s no cheating going on and if there are any problems or issues, they’ll fix it.

“I’ve done both, actually – walking around the floor and working the back-end. Last summer, I conducted my own tournaments. It was called, ‘High Rated Tuesdays,’ where if you’re above a certain rating, you can play in this tournament. I was doing all of the pairings and organization,” Anirudh explained.

“There are other certifications I can pass [state and national, for example] so I definitely will want to try that soon. I’ll continue tournament directing and continue playing Chess tournaments competitively and try to get a few Chess titles as well,” Anirudh said.

With so many accomplishments under his belt, he now has to decide what to do after graduation.

“I’m actually applying to colleges right now,” Anirudh said. “I also want to continue my Chess activities in college, and if they don’t have a Chess Club already present, I’ll found one. There wasn’t a really strong Chess Club at my high school, so I started a new one and got 50 – 60 members, and it’s running very well. I already have a plan for my legacy [after graduation] because I have the contacts for the years coming up, so I’ve decided on some sort of hierarchy where people who are experienced in the Chess field can take over once I’m gone.

“I’m applying to colleges in state and out of state. I’m still trying to figure all that out. There aren’t that many scholarship opportunities in Chess, but once I get into these applications, I’ll be figuring out what’s going on there. There are some colleges that offer really good scholarships because they are heavily invested in Chess, such as Webster and UT-D. They offer these scholarships so they can have proper players playing on their Chess team for intercollege tournaments,” Anirudh clarified.

Whichever college Anirudh chooses will have a fantastic addition to their Chess Clubs. Or if they don’t have one, he will make sure one gets established. Best of luck, Anirudh!