Young refugees learning chess in the US

by Albert Silver
5/25/2022 – In a time of strife and war, everyone suffers, but few more than children yanked from their homes in a storm of confusion. Thrown into a world of strangers and strange languages is a huge challenge, which is why it is heartwarming to see NBC news report that Afghan refugee children in the US are helped through chess with the help of GM Elshan Moradiabadi.

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Readers will be readily familiar with the name, since GM Elshan Moradiabadi is not only the consummate professional, but has been a regular contributor to ChessBase News since before he even emigrated to the United States some ten years ago, gracing the pages with his knowledgeable commentary and reports. 

Even now, while you may enjoy the excellent chess reports by our own staff on the SuperBet chess event by the Grand Chess Tour, the daily official bulletins sent out to editors and newsletter subscribers alike are signed by him.

Elshan, who now resides in North Carolina, was the recent subject of TV giant NBC, which covered his efforts to help young Afghan refugees who have been having trouble adapting to the new world they were thrown into. 

The NBC News site, accessible worldwide, hosts the news broadcast

In spite of a long tradition in the Middle East, the Taliban have forbidden chess in Afghanistan, which means the prior experience with the game for the youths is somewhere between little to non-existent.

While slightly mystified, the images show the children clearly enjoying the experience

GM Moradiabadi's experience both as an immigrant himself, having had to deal with his own share of culture shock, but also his fluency in Farsi, the language in both Iran and Afghanistan, made him an obvious choice. It doesn't hurt that he is exceptionally friendly as well.

So many mates to choose from... Decisions! Decisions!

The coordinator of the project noted the children were responding very well and were more assertive and outgoing.

GM Moradiabadi noted that it was such an inspiring feeling, he felt he had found his calling. We can only sympathize with the heartwarming images from the report. 

Click here to see the NBC News report


Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications, and the content creator of the YouTube channel, Chess & Tech.
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