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Paying It Forward Angel (Josh) Hernandez-Camen and Shrey Gandhi are using chess to give back to the world


ngel (Josh) Hernandez-Camen and Shrey Gandhi have been creative and energetic in bringing chess to underdevolped parts of the globe. Josh tells Chess Life, “The morning after the 2014 World

Youth chess tournament ended, we rented a small car, bought some groceries, and drove 218 kilometers to Himeville, a small town in the Drakensberg mountains [of South Africa]. In our trunk were a dozen chess sets donated by Dewain Barber, and other chess equipment, souvenirs, and photos from Coach El Mekki and the Paul Robeson Chess Club in Philadelphia. “[On our second day] I showed them a game and notation on the

chalkboard as they followed along over their own boards. I stopped the play every now and then and explained the important moves in more detail. I feel like maybe they got a better feel for how the pieces move and some basic ideas. But really they just loved to play and that was good. It was enough to just instill the love of the game in them. Later they could learn to play better, and better, and better. “On this day a chess player who is a member of the local Zulu community

and who offered to be the team’s coach came and taught along with me, translating some of the more complicated concepts into Zulu. I think he’ll do a good job continuing the program, though I hope other chess players will come through and help also.” Shrey Gandhi’s story is equally inspiring: “I decided to do something

special for my 10th birthday, to play and teach chess to the disabled under- privileged kids in India. During my visit to Ahmedabad, this summer, in India, I visited a place called Pearl Special Needs Foundation. “I went to talk with some teachers that work at the school. After that,

one of the teachers took me to the class to play chess. When I reached there, I first asked, “Does anybody want to play chess?” Only one person named

10 March 2016 | Chess Life

Nilesh raised his hand and we played a game of chess. I taught him that you are supposed to shake hands during the beginning of a game and at the ending of a game and we started playing a game. “While everybody gathered around Nilesh to watch us play, I quickly

finished the game and then taught the other people how to play chess. Two of the people started playing chess and I guided them while they were playing. I had a lot of fun and I hope to go there again because it was so fun and had an incredible and stupendous time. I donated chess sets that Mr. Dewain Barber had given me to take to the school. “I also went to a place called SEWA Rural where they run a charity

hospital to serve the medical needs of the poor people and played chess for two rounds. After that we decided to have some fun and we played a couple of games of suicide chess. “The third place I visited is Apang Manav Mandar. Here, they have an

all-day hostel for kids who have diseases, are disabled, or arrive when their families are not able to care for them. Since the kids understood only the local language Gujarati, I had to first learn what the pieces are called in Gujarati. I had played and explained some good chess moves in their language so they could understand. There I played with two people and I won the first time and then when they had a chance to checkmate I asked if they could recognize it. We donated multiple chess sets here as well. Teaching chess to others not only taught me to play better but has increased my respect for the game and given me the immense joy of helping somebody else learn.

Above: Students at the Kwapitela Primary School in Pitela, South Africa holding some of their chess key rings that Paul Robeson Chess Club students in Philadelphia sent as mementos; the club, where Josh is a member, sponsored the trip.

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