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Tripura man engineers checkmates for online chess gamers

With some brilliant thinking in the time of COVID-19 pandemic, 39-year-old Nirmal Das is now an online tournament organizer, arranging games even for players from abroad.
 

Published: 10th May 2020 04:42 PM  |   Last Updated: 10th May 2020 04:42 PM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

GUWAHATI: What a Tripura engineer started as a simple move has turned out to be a gambit.

Nirmal Das, 39, was a mere administrator on a chess app. With some brilliant thinking in the time of COVID-19 pandemic, he is now an online tournament organizer, arranging games even for players from abroad.

When the lockdown had begun in March, Das started playing chess with his seven-year-old son, Nishant, and friends and acquaintances online after downloading an app. His basic idea was to help people kill boredom and encourage them to stay at home.

Over the past 45 days or so, 975 people from eight countries have joined his chess group. He had reached out to foreign players by browsing the internet.

The oldest member in the group is a 78-year-old retired school teacher from Tripura, Pijush Kanti Roy, while the youngest is his son. Every day, there is a tournament and people play the game for free.

Das said he had hit upon the idea after participating in an online fee-based chess tournament that was organised by a man from Chennai. He registered himself at lichess.org which is an open-source Internet chess server where anyone can play anonymously. All features are available for free as the site is funded by donations.

“I had come across the app lichess.org. So, I reached out to some 15 people. There was a tournament that I had organised successfully. Soon, 50-60 people joined. I contacted my engineering course mates and others. I shared a link through social media and people from all over Northeast registered themselves. Within days, the number of members rose to around 450. They were from all over India. Then, I thought of making it international. By browsing the Internet, I started contacting players,” Das told The New Indian Express.

Now, he has members from eight countries such as Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Germany, UAE, Brazil and India.

“The beauty of this chess site is that you can watch two players playing from any part of the world. When someone joins, the software will give the person a rating point. It also helps connect two people with near similar ratings to play a match,” the chess enthusiast, who is employed with Tripura government, said.

The civil engineer further explained: “The system helps two Indians or two persons from two different countries play against each other. The entire records of the games are archived in the system which helps players to analyse their game. Others can also collect data and analyse.”

Some 120-130 people take part in a tournament every day. If a match is tied, there is tie-breaker. Sometimes, a player with a higher rating or higher age moves to the next round. Being the administrator, he fixes the tournament schedule. Grandmasters worldwide play matches on this medium.

“FIDE Master Prasenjit Dutta and all India school chess champion Arshiya Das have already played matches at my platform. International Master Neeraj Kumar will play on Monday. My goal is to have players from at least 100 countries,” Das said.

He said he was encouraging people to play chess as it helps in decision-making.

“In chess, you have to think of the next five moves. It builds your patience. You can also learn about the styles of playing of people in other countries,” Das said.

He will organise the 70th tournament on Sunday evening. He has plans to give prizes to the seven best-ranked players of the 75th or platinum jubilee tournament coming up soon.

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