"I have a Dream," . . .

So resonated President Martin Luther King Junior’s powerful voice on the steps of Lincoln Memorial Monument in Washington on August 28, 1963.

Said with such simplicity, and yet so profoundly, the words have often been seen as the combined voice of humanity, to dream big and achieve the seemingly impossible.

And so it has been with me. I too have had my share of dreams. But the one that I have cherished the most, pertains to the game of chess - to gift a state-of-the-art residential chess school to my city along with an annual chess championship that harnesses and recognizes local talent.

I have been passionate about chess from as far back as I can possibly remember. And it’s a passion and a game that’s stood the test of time, and is perhaps more relevant now than ever before. After all, it promotes intellectual prowess, problem solving skills, creativity and attention span – qualities much in demand to counter the adverse effects of the internet revolution.

The idea of a chess tournament of international standards came to me during my sojourn to Dubai with students of our school for the Dubai Junior Tournament Mumbai would so benefit from a similar event, I had felt then, and our children could be exposed to the highest levels of chess.

The Dubai Junior is the world’s richest junior tournament (with a prize fund of US $ 10,000) and held in a classical format (with double rounds scheduled on just 1 day). The infrastructure and playing conditions are immaculate.


Of course, plenty of friends and well-wishers who knew about my vision encouraged me with valuable inputs and ideas, they were confident that my dream would indeed become a reality. However, to channelize itself to reality, dreams need a concrete medium these days: that of being flush with funds! And that for me, came in the form of Mr Karan Bhagat and Mrs Shilpa Bhagat, who I happened to meet at the 10th Asian Schools Chess Championship in Taiwan. They had accompanied their son, the talented 5-year-old Kush Bhagat (yes, chess is getting younger and younger!) who was participating in the tournament. On one of the free days, a sight-seeing trip had been arranged for the Indian contingent to get a glimpse of the beautiful city of Taiching. This presented me with the opportunity to be closely acquainted with all the players, coaches and accompanying parents.






The Bhagats and I are from the same city, but it was our first interaction (apart from a brief introduction at the Taiwan airport) as Kush had taken to chess just a few months back. During our brief discussion, I shared my vision of Mumbai needing a good number of competitive and classical events so that our children could challenge counterparts ably at the State, National and International level chess tournaments. However, the absence of sponsors is invariably a stumbling block to hosting such events. The Bhagats sincerely attempted to understand the issue at length and assured me that they could help with sponsorship. They asked me for further inputs and honestly, I was a little reticent as I didn’t know what to expect. However, what I found admirable was the earnestness with which their assurance was made. We bonded even more over the next couple of days at Taiwan.
















 The 10th Asian Schools Chess Championship trip proved to be a rather successful one for the Indian contingent, and we returned with a rich haul of medals. The very young Kush and Raahil were amongst the medal winners (The photograph shows little Kush with his silver medal in the U-5 section while Raahil clinched the gold medal in the U-7 section). It was an extremely proud moment for me, and I cannot quite put into words the joy of donning the India’s colours!

On our return, the idea that we put into shape in Taiwan took a backstage due to the hectic season of chess tournaments, until one fine day, when a call from Mrs Shilpa Bhagat in February 2015. I went to meet the couple and with nary a question, Mr.Karan Bhagat officially committed to sponsoring the Mumbai Junior Chess Championship. As they say, the rest is history!

It was through this interaction that I first came to know that Mr Bhagat is in fact, one of the founding members as well as the Managing Director and CEO of IIFL Wealth Management Ltd, India’s largest private wealth management firm. You can view his profile on: Click here to View Profile

The outcome of that meeting: Mumbai is slated to become the home and host to one of the richest junior chess tournaments in the world, with the expressed aim of drawing a pool of the brightest talents in the world.

Here are some of its attractive facets

  • The prize money is a whopping INR 7,50,000/- or US $ 11,500 (approx.) – surpassing the prize money of Dubai Junior by quite a margin!

  • The tournament is a classical 9-round Swiss League with a double time-control of 90 minutes for 40 moves, followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game with 30 seconds increment from move 1.

  • The playing conditions offered will set a new benchmark for chess tournaments across the world – The venue is the Mount Litera School International, an international school with world class facilities to boot.

  • All the tables at the tournament will have wooden chess boards (square size 2.25”) with ebonized weighted chessmen:

  • In keeping with the All India Chess Federation decision regarding the implementation of a standard dress code, it is mandatory for all the participants to be attired in the official dress during the hours of play.

  • The event will be streamed ‘live’ on the official website, along with a running commentary by using DGT electronic chess boards.

  • The winner will bag Rs.1,50,000 or US $ 2300 as well as the glittering IIFL Trophy.

  • A games bulletin will be provided to all the participants in CBH/PGN format (the file will be mailed to the players’ registered Email Id).

  • A spacious seating arena will be provided for parents and accompanying persons, who will be able to catch the action live on the CC TV camera.

    Since the Junior edition of the tournament is scheduled to be held in the evenings (4.30 pm onwards), the sponsors also came up with the idea of having an ‘Open’ tournament with the same prize money.
  • Here’s welcoming the IIFL Wealth 1st Mumbai Chess Championship in a big way. A grand annual event, the tournament s here to stay for the long term.

When Swami Vivekananda uttered the words below, he might well have been talking about the germination of the idea of the IIFL Wealth 1st Mumbai Chess Championship. In fact, we have the lines etched on our school wall. Going forward, may this be the guiding vision for us:

Take up one idea.
Make that one idea your life - think of it, dream of it, live on it.
Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea,
and just leave other ideas alone.
This is the way to success!

Welcome to my beautiful city!!