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Online Chess tournament at Vedant

The year was 2005. Ivory Coast had just recovered from a fierce civil war and entire country was now set to support its national football team to qualify for its first ever FIFA World Cup. Led by a renowned international star striker, Drogba, this West African nation was more hopeful than ever for its historic qualification.
While the team was in Sudan, preparing to gift its country the glory of playing in World Cup, back in their home country the tensions were rising once again and violent clashes were about to unfold.
On the evening when the Ivorian team did finally manage to lock its place in the World Cup, the situation back home had gotten worse. More than the joy of this unprecedented victory, the citizens were doomed in the worry of the dark times that were going to follow.
After completing the match when the team got the news of the situation, they decided to take this opportunity to address the countrymen with a message. A TV camera was brought into the dressing room where Ivory Coast’s national icon, Drogba, along with his teammates went live to appeal to his people to drop down their arms and resolve the crisis with peace. This minute long broadcast created such a miraculous impact that in the weeks to follow, entire world witnessed both the citizens and the party in power coming to negotiations. In few days, they signed an official ceasefire and peace returned.

Drogba, from the dressing room, appealing to his countrymen

There are many more similar anecdotes from across the globe where sports has brought dramatic changes between even the most fierce political rivalries. Not only geopolitical, sports has also always been a significant catalyst in changing the demographics in many other domains as well; be it social, cultural, trade or diplomacy.

More than the testament of capabilities of the humans species, the role of sports is much beyond that. Within its realm lies a way of life that encourages a healthy lifestyle which teaches how qualities like discipline, patience, resilience can help achieve extraordinary feats. Physical sports, predominantly perceived by many as a platform to showcase primarily the physical prowess, has in recent times proved how mental strength is an equally important resource to optimize performance.

BUT, it makes us ponder that what is it in sports that helps us to mend things that even the best of leaders and the kindest of initiatives sometimes couldn’t? Why does it hold such strong effect in controlling the emotions of people? Is it merely the love for the game or is it the nature of sports that does wonders? From what I believe, it’s the latter.

Knowing The Score, a book on sports philosophy by David Papineau

Mostly when two nations, regions or communities engage in activities like trade, diplomacy or even war for that matter, there is always some difference that lies within. The engagement itself is of the nature that it is unable to provide a level playing ground as both are in many ways different from each other. Thus, the outcome of these engagements generally leaves one of the sides usually discontented and conflict of interest becomes inevitable. However, SPORTS IS DIFFERENT. Sports has one of those rare settings that brings all the entities to a common ground where it offers equal opportunities to compete and deploys same rules for all no matter what your stature off the field is. And this is the reason why sports organically creates a mutual respect between all the participating units, helping them to compete fairly keeping all the social, cultural and political differences aside.

The reason I write this today is special. It was a 2-day off from the academic sessions as the teachers were out for the school trip. A lot of my students love playing chess but have never played together as classmates. I had a good two day slot to arrange a chess tournament which was long overdue. What next? Without thinking much I dropped a message in the Class 8 group asking who would be interested to participate. Guess what? By the end of the day we had 38 students who showed interest and this was enough motivation to plan everything for the games starting very next day.

The is how the roster looked.

FINALS between Vikas Rajpurohit and Jinay Vaghela

After the tournament!

Congratulations to Vikas for winning the tournament and to all the players who gave their best to play really interesting games. I realized we have a lot of passionate chess players in the class who are now eager to play OTB (over the board) tournament when the school reopens