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August 16, 2011 > Pushing pawns for a brighter tomorrow

Pushing pawns for a brighter tomorrow

By Aditya Kumar

Editor's note: In his own words, Aditya Kumar, a student at Irvington High School, details the chess fundraising event he helped organize.

Twenty-one chess aficionados from all over the Bay area converged at a San Jose venue on August 6 to participate in a unique chess tournament. Salman Azhar and I collaborated to organize a chess tournament with the explicit objective to donate all proceeds to UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund). Salman is the director of the San Jose based chess non-profit Bay Area Chess and I am an avid chess player and up-and-coming chess tournament director.

Having recently directed the K-6 Fremont Scholastic Championship, I felt the need to organize a tournament for both children and adults. As an admirer of the work that UNICEF has done over the decades and with my passion for playing in and directing chess tournaments, I decided to integrate them through the creation of a fundraising tournament.

But why donate to UNICEF? Well, because every day, thousands of people around the world die from preventable causes and UNICEF is one of the leading humanitarian organizations working to reduce the number of preventable deaths to zero. Money raised from this tournament will be used to: provide immunizations and vaccines to save the lives of diseased infants, buy water pumps which will help reduce the number of waterborne illnesses or deaths, and purchase food and water to help nourish starving children in third-world countries.

The tournament consisted of four rounds of 60 minutes for each player. Participants ranged from chess novices to National Master and champion Mike Splane, all connected by a common love of chess and UNICEF. Both Rahul Desirazu and Hunter Burwell placed a close second behind National Master Splane, who boasted a 4-0 streak. Desirazu and Burwell had a blitz playoff to decide who would receive the second and third place trophies; Burwell emerged victorious and took home the second place trophy. Salman Azhar, high school student Aamir Azhar and grade-school student Jazon Zhang tied for first place in the second division and took home the first, second, and third place trophies respectively after a blitz playoff.

Barring the cost of trophies, the venue, and other miscellaneous chess equipment, the tournament still raised several hundred dollars for UNICEF. Hosting a chess tournament is just one of the many ways to help the global community. Although this is the first philanthropic chess tournament of its kind in the Bay Area, it certainly won't be the last.

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