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Taming the Lion

By Sanju Sinha

It was summer of 1998; I was on a vacation to my mama’s place (Patharkandi)
As college was over and I had just completed my B.Com 2nd year exam, I wanted to visit my cousins and wanted to have some fun with my old village folks and friends.

One fine morning a gentleman came and asked my mama to participate in BARAK VALLEY Open Chess Championship as my mama ( Ram Das Sinha ) was considered to be a chess enthusiast and a good player in Patharkandi, Mama persuaded me to join the championship which was going to be held in Karimganj the very next week. I readily agreed as I had plenty of time; and I have never faced an opponent from Cachar though I have been a state player for last three years in Guwahati.

Ram mama arranged a car for all four of us for four days of tournament; that included Shyam mama and Gauranga who is a childhood friend and a budding chess player. The date was 1st June (Monday) and the venue was a Bengali Primary School in Karimganj, we reached there at 10 a.m; almost 150 chess enthusiasts had participated in the event almost all senior and experienced players from Silchar and Karimganj has joined the event as it is one of the prestigious event which is being held every year religiously. One striking fact of this event was, most of the players were Meitei and were dreaded opponents, everybody was scared of them as almost all of them were really good and sharp, and were well prepared with their Tournament repertoire. We were just four Bishnupriya souls unknown to the crowd.

The tournament began immediately after the speech delivered by the commissioner of police, my opponent was Mr. T Chaoba Singha from Silchar I was playing on the top board its not because I was a champion to the event previous year but my opponent was holding the crown of this event for last five years, and he was one of the best player in Barak Valley.

The game began with a hand shake and exchange of smile, I had the White pieces and had a small advantage for my first move, as the game progressed I felt that I was not under any pressure and it was going pretty smoothly, Mr Chaoba was a man with a lean and thin frame calm and composed and a receding hair line, he had this small eyes praying to paunch on me to punish me for any mistake on the board, he was very simple and had lot of admirers across the room who often come to our board to see how the game was progressing, I was bit uneasy about people glaring at me, may be as I was the youngest in the event and was a new face, As I had played with top players from Guwahati and was runner up for the Guwahati district championship the same year in March I did not fear anyone across the room nor Mr Chaoba’s calm and composed demeanour made me feel that he could beat me. I was excited and was calculating my moves very fast and was running across the room watching other games, on my 23rd move I made a blunder and lost a BISHOP( Oonth , that’s what they call in Hindi ) for two pawns ( Sainik ) which was a huge advantage for my witty opponent, suddenly I felt the heat in my seat and my eyes could not believe what I have done, my ears were red and I was tensed, my mama’s and my friend saw my situation and gave me a wry look as if nothing can be done at this very moment, suddenly they started believing in the abilities of my opponent, the entire Hall was praising the man who has held this championship crown for last five years, I felt numbness in my hand.
I took a small break from the board went out and looked at the coconut trees across the road tried to compose myself, took a deep breath and came back to the board.

I started playing as though nothing has happened, the game progressed slowly and steadily but I never gave up on my chances and slowly and steadily I built my fort, slowly progressed with the king up the board with three pawns to be promote at least one of them as a queen. One would never know what happens to a player when one looses a piece and he had to face his opponent who is witty and smart and has been top of his performance for so many years, the game progressed and finally one of my Pawns ( Sainiks ) reached the eighth rank to be promoted as queen, suddenly there were buzz round the tournament hall, all of a sudden my table was surrounded by players discussing possibilities of my win, some discussing about how I reached this position and some looking at me disdainfully. The game ended with my fierce and opponent shaking my hand and praising my ability to raise my game to the next level. It was a well deserved win for me against a formidable opponent, after that I never looked back and won all the games in a row and I was declared Champion ahead of the last round, my score was 7/7 ( Seven out of seven ). The Champions trophy was given to me by Hon’ble Minister Satosh Mohan Dev of Silchar which included cash Prize of 10,000 Rupees.

Lot of records were rewritten on this victory of mine, First time in the history of Barak Valley Championship a Bishnupriya boy has emerged as a champion, and also I was the youngest champion in the long list of champions of the tournament, with no losses and draws but straight wins.

Mr.Chaoba met me after the tournament and he was delighted to know that I was a runner up in Guwahati district champion the same year and had come 13 in all Assam chess championship in the year 1997.

To be concluded with another encounter of mine with Assam State champion 1997 and my foray to Nationals 2007.

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  1. hello sanju
    from my bottom of my heart i am praising you.i didn't know, even no body knows, the fact that we have got very active Bishnpriya Manipuri youths in various activities.

    adn you are one among them.dear.congrats.

    i am looking forward to reading your other foray share as soon as possible...
    u do write well..keep it up...

    i would appreciate if you add your memories while visitig your village...
    it is erally nice reading article of vilages.

    i long for such stuff all readers ...
    do share with all the readers your other venture in life..

  2. Okey CHESS CHAMPION good and Well Done , You Deserved it great man……You know that was your confidence, because of that you won that championship…Hope you’ll maintain your position ……All the Best and excellent article


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