Developing chess for disabled children in Russia

by ChessBase
5/16/2016 – "If you really want to do something good or change your life for the better, be determined - don’t hesitate and start to act! A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." With these words in mind, Polina Torochkova established the Russian charity foundation "Country of Talents". Since its inception it has been involved in pathbreaking work in the field of chess for disabled children. In this article you can see how top players like Kramnik, Karjakin, Nepo, and others are supporting this endeavour.

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"Melody of Game" by Russian Charity Foundation "Country of Talents"
by Polina Torochkova

If you really want to do something good or change your life for the better, be determined - don’t hesitate and start to act! As our experience shows - a journey of thousand miles begins with a single step.

The "Melody of Game", which is an All-Russian charity chess evenings project for children with disabilities, originates from a series of charity chess evenings in five Russian cities (Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Kostroma, Pskov and Volgograd) in 2009, which received intense regional and national media coverage. We came across like-minded people in Moscow and invited children from across the country to participate in the charity chess tournament dedicated to the memory of an outstanding international arbiter Vladimir Dvorkovich. Since 2010 such tournaments have become traditional festivals for disabled children involved in chess.

"It is a great honor for me to take part in this evening, to assist with the intellectual development
of children with disabilities." GM Ian Nepomniachtchi, city of Arkhangelsk, 17 March 2015

We were just friends who cared about the future of children with disabilities. We wanted to draw public attention to the problem of the social adaptation of disabled children, show the importance of paying special attention to the intellectual potential of such children, develop their mental skills that will help their future self-actualization.

"Chess is the most successful tool for the development of the children's intellectual potential
in the form of a game." GM Ernesto Inarkiev, city of Nizhny Novgorod, 19 November 2014

Chess is a unique game which combines elements of sports, art and science. Chess develops logic and reasoning skills, imagination and resourcefulness, persistence and self-restraint, and it can be used to compare the model of life. Playing chess, children improve memory skills, learn to make decisions and obtain the quality of prime importance - the ability to determine the course of events that will definitely help in real life. Chess tournaments are both the kind of intellectual struggle and sporting events which harden personality, develop strong character traits, give the joy of the victory and belief in yourself.

GM Vladimir Kramnik, GM Alexander Morozevich and GM Levon Aronian during the charity chess evening “World grandmasters for the children” at the International Tashir Chess Tournament in memory of Tigran Petrosian, Moscow, 9 November 2014

"This is true happiness that despite all their infirmities children play chess and achieve success.
This evening will definitely provide an impetus for their further development." GM Vladimir Kramnik

We have held a lot of tournaments and started to invite the creative children with disabilities to participate in them. We found support and understanding among great chess players, politicians, actors, musicians, businessmen and other thoughtful people. We knew that it was only the beginning and we still had many things to change in the system of work with disabled children. With that end in view in 2013 Russian Charity Foundation "Country of talents" was founded, which is engaged in the development of the chess education system for children with disabilities and implementing the project of All-Russian Charity Chess Evenings "Melody of Game". A series of charity chess evenings for disabled children in different regions of Russia lie at the heart of the project. The winners of each regional blitz tournament are invited to the annual final in Moscow where they have a unique opportunity to contend with rivals from all over the country.

Our main goal is to attract attention to the problem of the self-realization
of children with disabilities through studying chess.

Our mission is to show the importance of paying special attention to the intellectual potential of disabled children.

We believe that the children's tournaments, displays of simultaneous chess with great grandmasters and additional chess education for children with disabilities will help the adults around them to perceive the value and beauty of children's potential. Also, studying at home, disabled children should not confine themselves merely within the four walls. These chess tournaments give them an invaluable opportunity for communication.

City of Tashkent (Republic of Uzbekistan), 10 April 2015

Honored Coach of Russia, GM Sergey Janovsky giving a simul
during the World Chess Candidates Tournament 2016

During 2014-2015 season we had held charity chess evenings, tournaments and displays of simultaneous chess with the leading Russian grandmasters in many Russian cities and even on the territory of CIS, including charity chess evening “World Grandmasters for the children” within the framework of the International Tashir Chess Tournament in memory of Tigran Petrosian and simultaneous for disabled children at the opening of the House of Paralympic sport in Moscow. In 2016 we took the charity evenings to the World Candidates Tournament in Moscow.

GM Sergey Karjakin during Charity Chess Evening "Melody of Game" for children with disabilities
at the World Chess Candidates Tournament, Moscow, 19 March 2016 

Disabled children are limited to physical infirmities but their natural passion for knowledge, curiosity and desire to win, help their self-actualization in the intellectual sphere that makes them believe in the fulfillment of their dreams in future. Moreover, very often it is the only way out to the full life for such children.

We hope that with our activities we would be able to attract attention of the general public, media, business corporations and public authorities to the problem of self-realization of children with disabilities. We believe that everyone should have equal opportunities. We want to give the belief that a person can do much more than it seems!

About the Author

Polina Torochkova was born in Moscow. In 2012, she graduated with honors from Russian State University for the Humanities (World Politics and International Relations Department). In 2015, she completed the post-graduate course of World Politics and International Relations Department. She is the co-founder of Russian Charity Foundation "Country of Talents.

Watch the video where Polina speaks about the "Melody of Game" and "Country of Talents" and
how chess is helping disabled kids. The interview was taken at the Candidates 2016 in Moscow.

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