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March 2006
Kids Corner

And the SPOTLIGHT is on

Kings, Queens, Lord Ganesha, and

An Eight Year Old!

This is a story of an 8-year-old boy battling the mighty king himself! Attacked over and over again by the ferocious knights, scheming bishops, racing rooks, the loyal queen and the charging pawns, he never gives up. Armed with smarts and skills, he outwits every time. With Lord Ganesha, his favorite God looking on, he battles fearlessly. No checkmate for this little guy.

Gold rimmed trophies, some tall some stout, gleam in the family room right below a mantle filled with statues of Lord Ganesha. Sunlight tap-dances as it hops, skips and jumps up and down over all of trophies and the statues. Then it lands on a head full of pokey black hair, a pair of bright and twinkling eyes, and finally settles on shiny braces, as if saying, "look, he's the one."

Meet our warrior, eight year old, Sumit Sohani. Sumit lives in Atlanta with his younger brother, Rohan and parents Mona and Sudhir. He is a student of third grade at Shakerag Elementary. He also loves to play chess. He learnt the game from his cousin Ameya at age three. With the help of his coach, Vijay Kumar, he started playing tournaments. Most recently he came first at the MLK Junior Holiday Tournament, in Atlanta, Georgia, January 2006. He was a second place winner at the Individual Grade Level Championship. His most special win came in April 2005 when he came in fourth place at the Super Nationals 3 at Nashville Tennessee, in category K-6, where about 5000 kids participated. It is held once in four years and it was Sumit's first nationals. This also earned him the tallest trophy in his collection. Currently he holds a national rating of 1228, which is in the top five percent range in K-3 section in Georgia.

Why chess?

"Usually, if you have fun with it, you like it," he declares, knotting his brows, as he attempts to explain his love for chess. Balancing a chess book between his feet, he states" It's like a war. It has strategy and tactics. I like to tease the opponent." he adds fiddling with a toss pillow.

Sumit participated in his first tournament, the 2004 Georgia Scholastic Open, at the age of six. Even though he didn't win anything he didn't give up. Grinning knowingly he says, "For your first tournament, don't take it hard; have fun." He also prays to Lord Ganesh before and after every tournament. "I pray to him even if I don't win. I thank him because, you know, I could have played worser?."

Another big win came for Sumit at the November 2005 National Youth Action Tournament, held at the Hyatt Hotel, Atlanta. He secured the 16th position in the National Youth Action, in the kindergarten through third grade, rated section. He likes to travel with his mom and dad because he gets to stay in hotels. "It's fun because there is room service.There is TV and Play Station in the room too." he adds, grinning as he throws a mischievous glance at his mom.

Sumit has won twenty-three trophies, but it is the thinking and planning and outsmarting the opponent that he finds more exciting. He makes notes in his notation book about his moves and those of his opponents. "At game time I have only thirty minutes. I like to analyze my game later so I don't repeat the mistakes." His favorite players are Gary Kasparov and Vishwanathan Anand. "Gary is smart. He beats the computer, and he has so much money, he is going to run for president."

Tips for success

Sumit sits cross-legged on the floor, as he explains thoughtfully, "firstly, find a good coach. Try to learn notation so that you and the coach can analyze the game. Read chess books and try to understand them and also play many tournaments." He recommends reading the books, Every Man Chess Series and Unbeatable Chess Lessons for Juniors.

In his spare time, after finishing homework, he likes to watch Cyber Chase on PBS. His favorite movie is Dhoom. He thinks that John Abraham and Abhishek Bachan are real cool guys. He also thinks that Lord Ganesha is cool because "he is a real fun guy who likes to help people."

Today Sumit is getting ready for the Scholastic Individual Championship to be held in March of 2006. He is nervous, for he plays ranked players but he is also very excited. He is certainly not afraid to loose. "Keep trying and don't give up," says Sumit with a big smile.

By AARTI NAYAR

Box:

Just Chessing Around

What is the chess player's favorite Christmas carol?

Silent knight, holy knight

Why is the chess player running for his life?

Didn't you hear? He killed the queen.

What is the chess player's favorite snack?

Chess mix

Why is the chess player so scared?

Because the knight is so dark.

What is the chess player's favorite shop?

The pawn shop.


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