Kishan Gangolli had made up his mind. It was a decision he had long contemplated and dreaded at the same time. On the eve of the 13th edition of the All India Chess Federation for the Blind’s (AICFB) National ‘A’ chess championship in Mumbai in February, the defending champion and four-time winner was quitting the game at the peak of his career, and on the cusp of greater glory. 

Instead, the 25-year-old from Shivamogga, Karnataka, would write a clerical exam whose dates clashed with the tournament. Twice before, he had chosen chess over exams. Twice before, he had not heeded the voice of his own well-honed sense of objectivity, a chess player’s most precious asset. He was not going to delude himself for the third time. 

“The truth is when you are out of the comfort zone of the 64 squares, you need a different kind of objectivity; it’s a different kind of war,” said Kishan.

Kishan is the only Indian blind chess player to win individual medals at the chess Olympiad. Yet no government ever gave him an award.  He had no sponsors. Even money to travel to tournaments was a challenge.

The decision to retire, in fact, came as a relief. Chess, Kishan’s greatest love and passion since he was 10, had driven him to the cesspit of depression. As ever, love and passion were meek defences against the cold and unforgiving banality of daily life. He could not find a  single reason to justify the years he had put into the pursuit of chess excellence. The thousands of lonely hours studying and analysing viciously complex positions created by the movement of strange-looking wooden pieces, dictated by a system of logic that has no validity outside a chess board, now seemed absurd and pointless. India’s greatest ever blind chess player was convinced that he had wasted his life.

Kishan is the only Indian blind chess player to win individual medals at the world chess Olympiad. In 2012 he won gold at the third board; in 2017, he won a bronze medal. In 2017, he became the first Indian to win the Asian title. On the national circuit, he has been undefeated since he first won in 2013. He is the only Indian to be rated above 2000 in all three formats—classical, rapid and blitz.

Yet, in all these years, not once was he acknowledged by the country. No government ever gave him an award. Neither the Centre nor the state offered a job. He had no sponsors. Even to find money to travel to tournaments was a challenge. The time had come to take care of his mother, his greatest strength. Better to live as an anonymous clerk and feed his family than as an anonymous champion in a sport not acknowledged in his country, he reasoned.  

“I waited so long. I thought maybe if I win one more medal, I could get the authorities to take notice. But I had to accept the reality. There was no point in carrying on,” he said.


Charudutta Jadhav, soul and engine of blind chess in the country, current president of the International Braille Chess Association (IBCA), and founder-president of AICFB, did not have an argument for Kishan’s decision. To nurture talent in blind chess is the mission of his life, and to see great talent disappear for want of recognition his greatest fear. Having once been the country’s top blind chess player he gave up his career at its peak and turned to organisation and management. Kishan was the protégé in whom he had seen unfulfilled dreams as a player come alive. Now, those dreams were abandoning him once more. 


Charudutta Jadhav has single-handedly made India a force in blind chess. Photo: Amruta Makal

A PhD in computer science, Charudutta knew it was futile to ask Kishan to slog on without hope. Yet, he wanted to give it a final try. So he took Kishan aside and told him to retire if he wanted, but not before playing the national tournament one last time. It does not a befit a champion to relinquish his title to become a clerk, he told the man who revered him as a father figure. Kishan gave in. 

“I could not say no to Charu Sir,” he said. “Ever since I became a chess player, it was he who guided and mentored me. When someone like that makes a request, you cannot but agree.” 

So he would play one more tournament before he turned his back on chess. But there was no guarantee that the tournament would take place.


Kishan Gangolli was born in 1992 in Shivamogga. He was 75 per cent blind at birth, from an incurable nerve disorder that progressively deteriorates. An only child, he was brought up by his mother Geetha, who was forced to take charge as his father, he said, “Was a selfish man who spent all his money for his own enjoyment and would come home every month only after his salary had been exhausted.”  

Geetha worked as a beautician and found means to survive from whatever little work came her way and by taking tuition classes. “Even surviving was a difficult task. I cannot imagine what it must have been for her to deal with a partially blind son also,” he said.

Chess made him happy. It was this that made him fall in love with the game, though to this day he does not know why chess makes him happy.

Until first standard, neither Kishan nor his mother knew he had a problem. He thought  everyone saw the world as he did: through a dark haze. His mother was under the impression that her son’s illegible handwriting and general reluctance to study were a behavioural issue. It was only after a teacher told Geetha her son had a problem that he was taken to a doctor. His immediate instinct was to hide. He became a recluse with no friends, lost in a world of his own making. Until chess found him five years later.

It was his maternal uncle, Santhosh Sarang, who introduced him to chess. Soon, he realised chess made him happy. More than any other thing, it was this that made him fall in love with the game, though to this day he does not know why chess makes him happy. “Maybe, it’s because when I sat with a chessboard my understanding became sharp and I could figure out in detail what was going on, or maybe because it’s a sport that you can play without anyone to play against,” he said. His academic life also prospered. From being a poor student, he was a now a rank holder. 

Talent can take you only so far in modern professional chess where the advent of chess engine software has made exhaustive preparation the most vital ingredient of success.

Seeing the joy it brought him, Geetha enrolled him at the Nalanda Chess Academy run by Sri Krishna Udupa, a partially blind chess player and former national champion. It was run for sighted players. Kishan was the only visually challenged student. Sri Krishna Udupa, however, understood his situation and made sure the classes were comfortable for him. “Udupa sir knew what I was going through, so I was lucky,” Kishan said. He credits his first teacher for the strong foundation on which his game is built. 

In his formative years, he played sighted players. In fact, he was not aware of a thing called blind chess. His eyes were giving him trouble, and often he found himself blundering. He had difficulty writing down the scoresheet, his illegible hand often being a bone of contention. Yet his tenacity meant that he was able to hold his own, and find a way to reach the top layer among the academy students. He performed reasonably well in weekend tournaments conducted at the academy. But he knew he wouldn’t be able to proceed much further with his condition. Without being able to prepare as thoroughly as sighted players, he would stagnate fast. 

Talent can take you only so far in modern professional chess where the advent of chess engine software has made exhaustive preparation the most vital ingredient of success. In fact, such is the degree of preparation in opening theory alone that most lines in the openings are well analysed several moves into the middle game. 

“Reading was difficult for me. And I had no clue that reading software existed for the blind. Forget software, even computers were not an option. We were barely surviving,” Kishan said.

To overcome his difficulties with preparation, his style evolved from a wildly attacking one based on sacrifices and one-dimensional kingside attacks into one based on deep positional understanding and complex manoeuvring. He chose openings that were less labyrinthine in their scope. 

With white he always opened with the London System, a system opening where the player plays more or less the same first moves initially and reaches a pre-designed set-up regardless of the opponent’s response. 

He has a natural feel for the game. When you analyse his games, you can see that he always has a plan. Sure, it might not work sometimes. But he never plays without analysing a position in its complexity.

With black, he settled on the French defence against 1e4 and the Nimzo Indian against 1d4, openings considered favourable to a positional style of play. “My approach was to get through the opening phase without trouble, even if that meant I did not get any advantage, even if I ended up in a slightly inferior position. Very early on, I realised that my strength is in the middle game. And I think one of the reasons for that is the amount of hours I spent visualising positions and analysing them without the help of a board. Visualisation is one aspect I believe blind players have an obvious edge over sighted players,” he said.

Sagar Shah, International Master and current coach of the Indian blind chess team says it is positional understanding that gives Kishan his greatest advantage, especially in the middle game. “He has a natural, intuitive feel for the game. When you analyse his games, you can see that he always has a plan. Sure, it might not work sometimes. But he never plays without analysing a position in its complexity, and then having come up with a plan that he thinks will give him an advantage.”


Given his financial handicaps and growing up with an absent father, finding tournaments to play proved difficult. His mother saved whatever she could to send her son to the occasional tournament. But that was not enough. His visual impairment meant someone had to accompany him, and it was simply not possible for his mother to find money for two. 

Manjunath Jain, an international chess arbiter and teacher at the academy used to take Kishan to some of the tournaments in which he was arbiter. “The boy was so talented, and it was painful to see such talent not getting opportunity. I tried to do my bit, but it was clear that he was struggling to find tournaments to play. Without tournament play how can your rating improve, no matter how talented you are?” Manjunath said.


Kishan in his happy place, pondering his next move on the board. Photo: Amruta Makal

It was in 2008, when Sri Krishna Udupa represented India at the World Chess Olympiad in Greece that Kishan learnt about blind chess. He had found the key to his future. But people around him were not so enthusiastic. There is a difference, and a massive one, in the way society treats a partially blind person and one fully blind. Though Kishan is for all intents and purposes blind, he does not look it, and playing blind chess, those around him feared, would stamp him as one. 

It was the first time that I realised how beautiful it is to not worry about anything and just play chess.

“I knew I had to come to terms with my blindness. But everyone else thought otherwise. One even told me that if I played blind chess, it would not be possible for me to get married. As a child, I was not at a stage where I could have had my own way even though I knew they were wrong,” he said.

Kishan’s breakthrough came in 2010, when he won a state level inter-collegiate rating tournament for sighted players. The victory meant selection for the National Games in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh. Despite being the lowest rated player in the team, he was named captain. It was the first time he was going outside the state to play chess. Since it was the National Games, he did not have to worry about funds for travel, a feeling he says helped him to improve his level of play in the tournament dramatically. 

“It was the first time that I realised how beautiful it is to not worry about anything and just play chess,” he said. He ended up winning all his six games, and his state won the second prize.   

Returning from that triumph, it struck him that despite a brilliant performance, nothing was to change in his life. His struggles to find tournaments continued, and finally, in 2011, he decided it was time to become a fully committed blind chess player, regardless of what others thought. “I convinced my mother that I had to come to terms with my blindness. Not just for my professional growth as a chess player, but in general as an individual, I knew I was headed nowhere if I continued to live in denial.”

His instincts did not betray him. Once he entered the blind chess field, he learnt of software for the visually impaired. Access helped him to prepare like never before. He now had the tools to broaden his repertoire and play more challenging lines. Most importantly, he felt at home. Playing chess without having to deal with squares that did not exist and without the fear of blundering was a liberating force. And in his very first tournament, the National ‘B’ championship for the blind, he finished second behind Sri Krishna Udupa. In the National ‘A’ championship, too, soon after, he finished second behind Ashwin Makwana. He was selected for the Junior World Chess Championship for the Blind and the Indian team in the World Chess Olympiad in 2012, in Chennai. For someone who till that point had considered chess a hobby that made him genuinely happy, it was now time to turn professional.


With the right conditions—mostly learning materials and software—chess is the only sport where blind players can play on equal footing with sighted players. Except for the allowance that blind players can touch the pieces, all rules remain the same for both. The criteria for achieving the titles of International Master (IM) and Grandmaster (GM) remain the same; to be a grandmaster, you need three GM norms and a minimum 2500 ELO rating. The rating system is the same for both. 

The only differences are in the modifications made in the texture and contours of the chess boards of blind players, and in the way they announce their moves and write the scoresheets. Completely blind players play with two boards, one for each player, while partially blind players can chose between playing with a single board or two boards.

The board for blind players has the following modifications:

All black squares are raised about 3-4 mm above the white squares. By feeling the squares, the player is able to determine whether the square is black or white:

Each square on the board has a hole in the centre to fix pieces

Each piece has a nail at the base, which fits into the hole, thereby fixing the piece securely 

All black pieces have a pin on the head helping a player distinguish white from black

Players thus are able to figure out the colour of the square and the pieces. By feeling the shape of the piece they determine its identity. 

After each move, the player announces it aloud. Instead of writing the moves on a score sheet, blind players use Braille or voice recorders.


The history of blind chess in India is inextricably intertwined with the personal journey of Charudutta Jadhav, founder-president of AICBF and current president of IBCA. Born in 1968, he had perfect vision till 13, when one day black spots appeared in his eyes while he was in a classroom. He was diagnosed with retinal detachment. By 19, his world had turned completely dark. 

As with Kishan, Charudutta too had severe financial struggles after his father lost his job in the cotton mills' strike of Mumbai in 1982. To support the family, he started working part time as an office assistant and chess trainer. 

Before he lost his vision, Charudutta loved outdoor sports, and won prizes at school level in field and track events. Though he had learnt to play chess, it was never his game of preference. But once he started turning blind, chess became a source of succour. He started to devote more time to the game and by 16 was good enough to win a local tournament for sighted players. As with Kishan, chess brought life’s zest back to Charudutta.

Though chess has always been part of schools for the visually challenged, there was no organisation at the national level devoted to blind chess. The only one in place was the Maharashtra Chess Association for the Blind, of which Charudutta was an active member. It soon became evident that unless there was a national level organisation blind chess could never prosper. He took it upon himself to conceive and design such an organisation, a mission that eventually led to AICFB in 1997. 

From the beginning he was clear about one thing: He did not want to start an organisation for the sake of starting one, and he did not want to call it a national organisation if he could not mobilise the entire country, not just Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu where the game had acceptance. So he travelled the length and breadth of the country, collecting data from various states. He had by that point completed his Masters in computer science, and was funding his pet project from his own pocket. 

It was a shock to know there was a world championship for blind chess from 1958. We were so far behind.

In 1998, AICFB conducted the first national championships for the blind. The tournament had 420 entries. Soon a championship cycle consisting of zonal, National-B and National-A was conceived, with the best players from each stage progressing to the next and the one who won the National-A being crowned national champion. Despite devoting himself almost completely to organisational activities, he remained the best blind chess player in the country. In 1998, be became the first blind player from India to get a FIDE rating. He is also the first from the country to win a medal at an international tournament for the blind, the Irish Open Chess Tournament in 1998. 

He participated in the 1998 world chess championship held in the Czech Republic. It was also a tournament that made clear the magnitude of the task ahead of him. “When I started the association, my immediate aim was to win a world championship. But only when I played in the world championship did I realise how strong the field was. I was the first Indian to get a FIDE rating, and competing with players rated 2300 and above. In fact, it was a shock to know there was a world championship for blind chess from 1958. We were so far behind.” Marcin Tazbir, a player from Poland, is the only grandmaster in blind chess with a rating of 2536.

It was clear that his playing days were going to end if he wanted to mobilise a blind chess movement in India. In 2004, he retired with a rating of 2053, a mark crossed only in 2014 by Kishan Gangolli. To make India a powerhouse in blind chess like Poland, Russia and Ukraine, Charudutta knew he had to first put the country in the global circuit. So he decided to conduct world events starting with the first ever Asian Chess Championships for the blind at Mumbai in 2003. In 2006, AICFB conducted the World Chess Championship for the blind at Goa in 2006, and in 2012, the 14th IBCA chess Olympiad for the blind in 2012. All this was without any support from the government.

The joy you get when you listen to your national anthem is indescribable. Equally indescribable is the pain of realising that the country is not aware you have brought her glory.

“I had to run after corporates for funds. But that is OK. You can always find a way to raise money. What really disturbed me was that no government took a step to accept blind chess as a sport. Even now, despite requesting sports ministers for over a decade and a half, we don’t have government support. The only financial aid it provides is to pay for one world tournament. So if there are, like we have this year, two world tournaments—the world team championship and the world junior championship—expenses would be met for only one,” he said. 

“What we need is for the government to recognise players who bring the country glory. For every sportsperson, seeing the country’s flag on your table, and the joy you get when you listen to your national anthem is indescribable. Equally indescribable is the pain of returning from an international event and realising that the country is not aware you have brought her glory.”

Between managing his professional career as head of TCS’ Accessibility Centre of Excellence, and pursuing his personal dream of a blind chess revolution in the country, Charudutta found time to launch Talk 64, a specially designed speech enabled chess software for the blind and the world’s first DAISY (Digitally Assisted Information System) chess book—in which audio and text are synchronised. 

In 2017, he also launched Radio Chess, the world’s first internet radio for blind chess. 

“What players really need is learning material. We don’t have many qualified coaches for blind chess, so we have to support ourselves. And that is why I focus so much on developing software,” he said. He also completed a PhD in Computer Science. 

Kishan considers him his role model: “For me, he is a superhero.”


When Kishan started playing in 2011, it did not take Charudutta long to see he had “genuine champion material” to work with. When Kishan travelled to Greece for the junior world chess championship for the blind, Charudutta acted as his guardian since it was not possible for his mother to go along. He was in the race for a medal till the last round and came in sixth. In fact, with two rounds to go he was even in the race for gold. The setback motivated him even more, and he did not have to wait long to find a chance.

Kishan was playing “inspired chess” in the Olympiad. With six wins and three draws he ended up with 7.5 points and won the individual gold on the third board.

In 2012, India hosted the 14th IBCA Chess Olympiad for the blind in Chennai. For Charudutta, this was an occasion for vindication, since no one had taken him seriously when a decade earlier he had articulated his vision of India as a hotspot in the circuit. It was his way of sending a message to the government that despite its apathy, blind chess was capable of survival. “I wanted everyone to believe we are capable of achieving in practice what we outline as a vision.”

Kishan was playing on the third board in the Olympiad. His eagerness to bounce back from the setback  in the world juniors was further fuelled by two press conferences prior to the Olympiad. In one he met then world champion Viswanathan Anand, icon of every chess player in the country. 

In the other, he met Sachin Tendulkar who had pledged his support for blind chess. Tendulkar placed his hand on Kishan’s shoulder, a moment imprinted in his memory as pure magic. So transfixed was he that for the next few years he always wore that shirt to important matches. “And believe me, I never lost a match when I wore that shirt,” he said. 

Kishan was playing “inspired chess” in the Olympiad. With six wins and three draws he ended up with 7.5 points and won the individual gold on the third board. (An Olympic chess team consists of five players. There are four boards, and a player assigned to play on a board can be promoted to the next board. For example, if the captain decides to replace the player on the first board, the player on the second board takes his position and the fifth player plays on the fourth board. A player cannot be demoted, nor can he be promoted to more than one board.) 

Jose Raul Capablanca became his idol. His endgame technique and an enigmatic simplicity of style appealed to Kishan’s temperament.

He was the first Indian to win a medal at the Olympiad. India finished fifth, their best performance in an Olympiad. 

But Kishan was in for a rude awakening. There was no acknowledgement of his achievement except in his own community. It took a while for reality to sink in, but once it did, he decided to move on instead of sulking. He said, “From Charu Sir, I knew about the great difficulty in building a blind chess movement in India. So I knew things were not going to change overnight. I had to keep performing at a level so high that it would be impossible for the authorities to keep ignoring me.”

He began to put in more hours. More time was devoted to theory. In the process he started studying the classics. Jose Raul Capablanca, the legendary Cuban grandmaster who was world champion from 1921 to 1927, became his idol. Capablanca’s positional expertise, his endgame technique, and an enigmatic simplicity of style born of a mastery over complex analysis appealed to Kishan’s temperament. He also focused on broadening his opening repertoire. From London System, he evolved into a complete d-4 player with white.

As usual there were everyday problems. The financial situation was getting worse, which meant he could hardly travel to tournaments. It is a regret that still haunts him: “I was in great form in that period. If I  had played more tournaments, I could have really improved my rating.” Among those he managed to play, he won a few open rapid tournaments for sighted players.

With partial blindness there were bound to be suggestions that he was at an advantage over completely blind players. It is a perception exaggerated by the way he plays. Unlike most blind chess players, Kishan never touches the pieces, a holdover he says from his background in sighted chess. 

“People look at me and say I have a huge advantage over the others. The reality is that being 75 per cent blind means I can read a book but only in daytime and only if the book is 8-10 cm from the eyes. I have great difficulty distinguishing colours and am completely blind at night.” But because he grew up playing sighted chess, he instinctively tries to use his limited vision while playing. Contrary to popular perception, it does more than harm than good. For starters, it puts great stress on the eyes, which accelerates deterioration of vision. From a chess perspective, he is caught in a world where he neither uses his eyes like a sighted player nor is able to visualise with the ingenuity and natural ease of a blind player.  


Kishan's meeting with Vishwanathan Anand was a memorable one for him. Photo: Amruta Makal

In 2013, he won the national championship for the first time. In the same year, he was selected for the world team chess championship where he performed poorly. It remains a tournament that he likes to forget, not just for the result. The dates clashed with the dates of his graduation exam, and despite repeated warnings from his mother, he had decided to choose chess. “Maybe I should not have gone. I think at that point I was living in a fool’s paradise, thinking I would soon become an International Master and keep progressing further,” he said.

After he came back, he had neither college nor tournaments to go to. Though the government had ignored him after he had won the Olympiad a year earlier, he still then had personal success to keep him afloat. Now he found himself clueless. He managed to survive by taking classes and intensifying his preparation. But after graduation the next year, he decided to focus on academics and enrolled for a Masters in Economics. Since he was not in a position to travel to many tournaments, he decided to spend more time in preparation. Around that time he got a call from Stany G. A., friend and batchmate at Nalanda Chess Academy when they were kids. 

Stany was an International Master and looking for someone to practice with, since he says it is always better to study chess with someone. Though Stany was rated much higher than Kishan, he thinks Kishan’s rating does no justice to his potential. “What I figured was that he was easily at the level of a 2200-2300 player. It was a pity that he did not have tournaments to take part in,” Stany said.

The sessions with Stany left a deep impact. Kishan believes his level increased dramatically after practising with Stany. “It was great to see an IM prepare. I used to think chess is all about finding the right move. After practising with Stany, I realised there is so much more.”  For Stany, it was a mutually beneficial experience as it was difficult to find a player of Kishan’s calibre in Shivamogga.

Kishan continued to dominate the national championships, which he won in 2014, 2016 and 2017. He finished 15th in the 2014 world chess championship in Greece, the highest ever position till date for an Indian in IBCA world championships. In between, he got his Masters from Kuvempu University with second rank. In 2017, he won the individual bronze at the world Olympiad. In the same year, he became the first Indian to win gold in the Asian championships.

In December, 2017, it was time for the national-B championship. This time too, there was an exam for a government job whose dates clashed with it. Though he had not forgotten the last time, he chose chess again. The possibility of national championship was too great a temptation to resist. “I don’t know why these exams always clash with my tournaments. I only play a few tournaments, and even those I am not able to play freely,” said Kishan. 

The idea of playing freely and adding dynamism to his style is something both his coach Sagar Shah and Charudutta Jadhav emphasise as a key area. Both understand where that relative lack of freedom comes from. 

All these years, I played and won so many medals, no one bothered. But when I announced my retirement, suddenly I was a good story.

“As a coach, it is easy to tell him to play more dynamic chess. But one has to consider the pressure every time he goes out to play. It is only natural for a player to choose a passive option under such stress,” said Sagar. He firmly believes that if Kishan addresses this, he can only get better. “The thing I found with Kishan is that when you discuss chess with him, he is full of dynamic ideas. He just needs to translate that into real-time games. You don’t have to take each game as the most critical of your career. What he needs to do is to eliminate fear from his psyche when playing. He should not be accepting too many draws.”


After winning the Asian championship, once again unacknowledged by the government, Kishan began pondering retirement. After winning the national ‘B’ championship one more time, he decided enough was enough. He was not going to fall into the same old trap. In the meantime, Charudutta was not even sure if he would be able to conduct the tournament. He couldn’t raise the meagre ₹5.62 lakh needed to run it. AICFB never had access to government grants, and finding corporate sponsorship was also proving difficult. The association does not charge players, so raising money through entry fees was ruled out. 

Charudutta’s frustration was heightened by the fact that the blind chess revolution he had dreamt of was finally coming to fruition in terms of talent identification and nurturing. In the 20 years since he became the country’s first rated blind chess player, the number had risen to around 180. In addition to Kishan, there were exciting talents like Ashwin Makwana, Aryan Joshi, Soundarya Kumar Pradhan, Darpan Inani and Marimuthu. India was a force to reckon with, yet here he was, unable to raise even half a million rupees to conduct the premier national tournament.

True to his nature, he was not ready to give up. He found an ally in Sagar Shah, IM, popular chess blogger and founder CEO of ChessBase India. Through his website, they made a pitch for crowd funding. Support poured in from the chess community. After Charudutta coaxed Kishan to play one last time, Sagar made a video on Kishan’s plight. It went viral. 

“All these years, I played and won so many medals, no one bothered. But when I announced my retirement, suddenly I was a good story,” Kishan said. Many came forward with offers of financial support. One gesture in particular moved him. A ten-year-old boy sent him the prize money he won from a tournament.

As for Charudutta, though he was happy he could conduct the tournament, he knew this was not a permanent solution. “How long can we depend on charity and goodwill? Unless the government acknowledges blind chess, we won’t survive. What we need is a permanent solution. If government recognizes blind cricket, played only by eight countries where India and Pakistan are the only strong teams, why can’t they acknowledge blind chess where we are a strong presence in a playing field of around 70 countries?”


To no one’s surprise Kishan won the tournament a fifth time. He took home ₹50,000, the biggest prize money he had got from a tournament in India. Since they were able to collect surplus money through crowd funding, AICFB had increased the prize money. For the players, the interest they were receiving from the public for the first time ever proved to be strange and sweet.

After the tournament, Kishan was offered a job and made brand ambassador by Karnataka-based dairy products company Akshayakalpa. He works as a customer executive from 6 to 9 in the mornings and evenings. He can devote the rest of his time to chess. Though his problems have for the time being been solved, like Charudutta, Kishan also knows government intervention is the only way forward.

Kishan is keen to make the most of the good times. Enjoying a sense of security for the first time in his life, he has started playing more freely. He even finished second in an open tournament for sighted players who were rated much above him. He has set himself two short-term goals and an ultimate goal. He wants to win a medal at the para-Olympics in Indonesia later this year. Next year he wants to win a medal in the world individual chess championship for the blind. There is no subtlety about the ultimate goal: “I want to become the first Indian blind chess Grandmaster.”