An Indian Chess Wedding (2)

by Sagar Shah
2/21/2014 – Sagar Shah, rated 2304 with two IM norms, is a regular contributor to our news page. Amruta Mokal, 2041, four WIM norms, will hopefully also write chess stories for us in the future. On February 5th, after over five years of friendship, the two got married. In part one of his pictorial report Sagar gave us the background of the wedding; today he describes the Vedic rituals and the chess tournament.

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An Indian Chess Wedding (2)

Pictorial report by Sagar Shah

When I met Amruta Mokal back in 2008, it was not at all clear that she would be the girl that I would marry. But over time, the attraction developed into liking, and liking into love! And after five and a half years, in February 2014, we both tied the knot! The wedding was held in the city of Pune which is the hometown of the bride!

As I mentioned in part one of my article both me and Amruta wanted a different sort of wedding. Indian weddings are not only known for their pompous nature, but also for their excruciatingly long ceremonies and rituals. We wanted to break the monotony, and what better way than to celebrate the very reason of us coming together i.e. the game of chess!

The wedding ceremony

The wedding ceremony was performed in the Vedic format, which is common for all castes and religions. I will try to explain some of the most important moments of the ceremony through pictures.

A mangala sutra (from Sanskrit mangal, meaning holy or auspicious, and sutra meaning thread) is a
sacred necklace that a groom ties around the bride's neck, which identifies her as a married woman.

By dropping puffed rice on a fire Amruta asks God to keep us united and prays for my long life

Taking pheras (circles) around the fire, pledging our devotion and loyalty to each other

Throwing rice grains over Amruta symbolizes that I am agreement with
whatever she asks and will always fulfill her wishes

The saptapadi – taking seven steps we together prayed for food, strength,
piety, progeny, wealth, comfort and health

The antarpath – before the final step of exchanging garlands,
we both are separated from each other by a flowered veil

The garlands are exchanged and finally we are married!!

The Game of Chess or Madness at the Wedding

As it was a union of two chess players we tried to do something bold: we organised a small chess event, with Team Amruta playing Team Sagar. Each team had six members.

Team Amruta consisted of all the Pune players: Abhijit Kunte, Shashikant Kutwal, Anirudh Deshpande, Sohan Phadke, Abhishek Kelkar and Kiran Panditrao. Team Sagar had players from different places. They were Vidit Gujarathi, Sameer Kathmale, Vinod Bhagwat, Chinmay Kulkarni, Nikhil Joshi and Omkar Patwardhan.

In order to make the game more interesting and less serious we tweaked the rules a little by interchanging the place of the king and the queen, and black making the first move. Also castling was not allowed! This resulted in some original chess.

His hook is hanging on g5, his king is in check, yet he has the audacity to pose for a picture

The interest generated amongst the crowd was simply mind-blowing! People were extremely excited to see top players in action and forgot that a wedding was actually going on. The players too enjoyed the match. I wont get into individual results but Team Amruta emerged victorious by a score of 3.5-2.5. Many people said that now Amruta will dominate over me for the rest of the life. I personally think this may be true, but the scenario would not have changed even if my team would have won the match.

Amruta and I take this opportunity to thank the twelve players for being such a good sports and playing the game in the right spirit to make it a unique and memorable event! A special thanks to Niklesh Jain for conducting this event as well as he runs tournaments in his state of Madhya Pradesh!

The best chess players of Maharashtra, all in one frame!

My very good friend Shailesh Nerlikar, who is 100% disabled,
travelled all the way from Kolhapur to attend the wedding

Some very beautiful women at the wedding – but sorry, guys, they are all married!

After hard day's work some wonderful Maharashtrian food on silver dishes, including roti,
puri, shrikhand, potato sabji, vegetable rice, gulab jamun, ice cream and much more!

Our wedding was covered by the popular Marathi newspaper Loksatta because
of the uniqueness of the arrangements. The headline reads "The game now begins!"

A huge thanks to my and Amruta's parents who allowed all this madness to happen!
Without their permission and support it would have been simply impossible.

Now that Amruta and I are married we would like to work together and become better chess players. There are a lot of strong chess couples in the world. Many of them add upto a combined Elo of 5000 points. So who holds the title of strongest chess couple in the world?

Thank you dear friends, for patiently reading about our wedding. I hope you found it interesting and enjoyed it. Do send us your blessings. I look forward to a happy and fulfilling life with my wife!


Topics India

Sagar Shah is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He is also a chartered accountant and would like to become the first CA+GM of India. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder of the ChessBase India website.
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