Jahnvi Shah Interview: 'Teach this beautiful game to at least one person'
Jahnvi Shah shares her experiences as an organizer, chess instructor and also as a lover of the game.

Jahnvi Shah Interview: 'Teach this beautiful game to at least one person'

FM NiranjanNavalgund

Jahnvi Shah from Nirmaan Charitable Trust speaks to Community Manager of Chess.com India - Niranjan Navalgund about her experiences as a chess organizer, chess instructor as well as a lover of the game. 

Jahnvi Shah is primarily a chess player with a FIDE rating of 1518. She is currently studying in the 10th Grade at Dhirubhai Ambani International School. Apart from being a player, Jahnvi has imparted chess training at basic and intermediate level through Teach For India foundation for two years. Most of the students that learnt chess were 5th - 7th graders. 

While the whole world is going through the pandemic, Jahnvi thought that she could do her bit to the society and decided to organize a chess event through her foundation - Nirmaan Charitable Trust, thereby encouraging people to stay at home and also giving them an opportunity to challenge the best players of the country. All the registration proceeds went to PM-Cares Fund. 

Here's the interview:

Can you tell us how you and your family got connected to chess?

My grandfather Mr. Anil Shah was a chess player and a university champion. Inspired by him, I started playing chess at the age of 6. I have been a state as well as national player with an ELO of 1518. My brother is also a world youth, commonwealth and national gold medalist.

What made you teach chess?

I was always fascinated by chess as a game as there are many benefits of playing it such as developing analytical skills, problem solving skills, planning and foresight as well as concentration and focus. These qualities could help any individual with their academic performance as well. This is why I approached the Teach for India foundation and shared my plan to teach chess to underprivileged children studying in grade 6 and 7. They gave me the opportunity to teach at the Worli SeaFace BMC School. That is how my teaching career began.

Could you share a bit about your experiences as a chess instructor?

After teaching the underprivileged kids at the municipal school for two years, I started my own NGO the Nirmaan Charitable Trust, mainly dedicated to teaching more number of underprivileged children. Initially, I found it very hard to teach the children as I had to start from scratch. Identifying the children that were interested in this was a tough task too. However, I blended learning with fun in order to simplify the learning and keep them engaged. For example, while teaching how the knight moves, I drew 2 and a half boxes and asked each one of them to walk on it to get a feel of the chess board. We also had a “top 3” at the end of each month for those who had solved maximum puzzles and these children were given gifts.

How was your experience of conducting the chess event online on Chess.com?

It was an amazing experience! Right from planning to execution, it was a great learning opportunity. We had marketed this event very aggressively in order to have more participation and hence contribute to the PM Cares Fund. We had 338 participants ranging from: GMs, IMs, rated players, amateur players and kids.

What are some of the initiatives and activities planned by your trust in the coming days?

As of now, we teach 8 schools with over 100 students. The plan is to reach out to at least 20-25 schools in the next 2 years and 350-400 children under our program. We also plan to train talented kids so that they can participate at the district and state level tournaments.

Has being associated with chess helped you personally?

Yes, it has been an enriching experience and has helped shape my thoughts and personality. Not only has it improved my concentration and focus but also taught me not to give up in challenging situations.

In your opinion, What's the easiest part about learning chess?

It requires minimal investment - just a chess board and pieces that can be bought at Rs. 250. It doesn’t need a big stadium or ground; one can learn chess sitting at home. With the advent of technology, there are several online chess tutorials available.

What are some of your future goals?

Currently I’m studying in the 10th grade.at Dhirubhai Ambani International School. I intend to continue and expand this initiative alongside my education. I need sponsors to scale this up to the next level. I’m sure there will be takers of my noble dream to develop high mental power and cognitive skills in these children.

Is there a message you wish to convey through your trust to the chess fraternity?

In today’s world, where children have access to innumerable distractions, playing chess can help one to stay away from them. That in itself is a great beginning. I urge all chess players to take out some time and teach this beautiful game to at least one person so we can develop a society of more disciplined and confident problem solvers.

Is there a quote you live by?

“Find the purpose, and the means will follow.”

Jahnvi Shah lives by the quote - "Find your purpose, and the means will follow"

Do you have an ideal / or inspiration you look up to?

I look up to all the NGOs working to impart education to underprivileged children.

What do you love about Chess.com?

It is a great platform for professional as well as amateur players. Features such as puzzle rush are very interesting. The very fact that celebrated grandmasters come and play on this site speaks volumes about Chess.com. I was very happy to use chess.com as a platform for my tournament. I thank IM Rakesh Kulkarni for all his support pre and post the tournament.