Chess parenting done right

We had the privilege to sit down with two Indian chess mums – both professionals – of young talented children in chess and in a fascinating conversation, to learn about how they see chess in the context of their child’s development.

First up is Mrs Anubha Pathania Raj who comes from a family of lawyers in Mumbai and decided to give up her profession to give time for her seven year old son Jaivardhan Raj who is just a year into his chess journey but who already has gotten valuable experience in competitions.

Jaivardhan actually picked up the game by himself but quickly got immersed, and so through word of mouth a suitable trainer was found and besides the actually teaching several times  a week, they have been guided in terms of tournaments, already ten in total, including the Mumbai and Delhi International Opens, and with this Asian Youth Chess Championships their first overseas trip, a competition where they have no expectations given he is a year younger than most in his age-group.

Second is Mrs Rekha Pinkesh Nahar, a Professional Counsellor (Singapore) and Creative Play Practitioner (UK), now residing in Mumbai, who has rebuilt her consulting business around prioritising time for her children, Anaishaa who is six and a half and Rajveer who is nine years of age.

In Rajveer’s case it was his father to taught him chess and occasionally still plays with his son and it was from her older brother that Anaishaa picked up the game.

They too have a coach, who comes in 15 days a month and gives each child two hours each daily.

Again, as in the case of Jaivardhan there is no pressure to perform at the Asian Youth Chess Championships, partly perhaps because again both Rajveer and Anaishaa are at the younger end of their respective age-groups, but mainly because both parents believe that it more important for their children to grow up right.

For both parents, that simply means that while they are committed to giving their children every opportunity to succeed in chess, and they are prepared to make the necessary financial sacrifices, their children need to do their part too i.e. not only be interested in playing, but to show real commitment to a passion, be prepared to do hard work, and ultimately to perform.

Interestingly, both parents are clear what their role is and what the role of their coach is.

Like for all serious chess playing children, chess is two to three hours daily, competitions most weekends together with regular participation in major tournaments, and at this age, with some help from parents and teachers, homework and catching up with school is not a problem for such bright young things.

A very impressive non chess outcome has already been seen in their children benefitting greatly from increased concentration and discipline while becoming more organised, clearly some of the benefits of chess we like to talk about!

In India, it certainly helps that chess is well regarded, and even being seen to be a real alternative to the traditional sport of a cricket crazy nation, so a career in chess is today already something that gets serious respect in society and can even be seen to be financially rewarding.

Where the two parents do differ is in that one is more inclined to measure their financial investments in their child’s chess, with a tipping point five years down the road where to continue their results must result in sponsorship.

Yes, in India, the parent’s spending is made no later than eight or nine and ends by thirteen at which the decision can easily be made to 1) start to leave the game after appreciating and enjoying the many benefits gained over the years, 2) qualify for assistance as good enough to seriously continue but with balancing the demands of school, or 3) with the talent and results so great, to become a Grandmaster and then try and become World Champion!

Valuable lessons indeed for parents!