(From top) Students from Future Hope School who participated in The Telegraph Schools’ Chess Championship and Diptajeet and Yudhajeet Dey.

Pictures by
Amit Datta

• 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5. Thirteen-year-old Surojit Moira is learning a new language, that too just by observing.

• Within a week of learning to tell a knight from a bishop, seven-year-old Susant Das, who lives in the Ahiripukur slum near Park Circus, had beaten two opponents and drawn against one.

Surojit and Susant are among the 10 orphans from Future Hope School who debuted in The Telegraph Schools’ Chess Championship, which had served as a cradle for grandmasters like Surjya Sekhar Ganguly, Sandipan Chanda and Tejas Bakre.

Even Bangladesh grandmasters Ziaur Rahman, Reefat Bin Sattar and Abdullah Al Rakib came into the limelight at this meet, which is India’s only FIDE-rated chess tournament at the school level.

“I had picked up how to move the different pieces from friends at the home but did not know how to write the moves as the games progress. I learnt that watching my opponents and wrote down my moves the third game onwards,” said Surojit after his second game of the day on Friday.

The Class VII student of Future Hope School began well in the championship but lost his way. He ended with a tally of 4.5 (four wins and one draw) in the tournament, in its 22nd year.

“I can see that my defence is weak and I don’t have many tricks up my sleeve. But I will come back prepared next year,” said the boy after being beaten in a game.

The likes of Surojit and Mangal Hembram, who won six games, can look forward to doing better at the next edition of the tournament with the authorities of Future Hope promising to get coaches from Alekhine Chess Club, which organised the tournament, and Dibyendu Barua Chess Academy to train kids in their seven orphanages in the city.

The other surprise package of the tournament this year — which saw the participation of 480 children, 100 more than 2009 — was the performance of the Dey twins, Yudhajeet, who is blind, and Diptajeet, who is partially blind.

“We had never participated in such a high-profile tournament. There are many good players and it’s a nice feeling to beat some of them,” said Diptajeet, who shifted from an English-medium school to study with his twin in the Sreerampur Mahesh High School, where the medium of instruction is Bengali.

“There is rivalry between us but our dream is common. Both of us want to become grandmasters. We play chess for five hours daily,” said Yudhajeet, who has won two gold medals from the Tailakhya Sangeet Academy, where he takes guitar lessons.

Yudhajeet who is older than Diptajeet by minutes, beat his brother by half a point, tallying an aggregate of 6.5 points after 11 games.

“Yudhajeet and Diptajeet have both done very well, keeping up with some fine performances by kids with visual impairments in this tournament. The boys of Future Hope also did reasonably well. They would do better next time because they will have formal coaching. Also, we would like to see girls from the school take part in the tournament next year,” said Kenneth Sinha of Alekhine Chess Club.