Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Press Rerlease from My Friend Michael Hoffer

A 10-year-old boy from Valrico, Roshan Jayaraman, tied for first place in his very first chess tournament on July 23, defeating two experienced adults, and garnering a provisional rating of 1696, ranking Roshan 43rd in the US for his age! This was a truly remarkable result because Roshan, whose family hails from southern India, only learned how to play chess a mere four months ago! While he did play some games online, Roshan had never played face-to-face with a live player until his first trip to a chess club! His opponent that night was 10-year-old Truman Hoang, another promising young player who also has been beating much higher-ranked adults lately. Before joining the club, Roshan had trained himself over the Internet, primarily through YouTube and Wikipedia. The club resembles a kids’ version of the United Nations, sporting yet another 10-year-old, a girl, Hailey Nguyen, who recently won the State Championship! Another member is the bright and adorable 8-year-old Alexandra Roberts of Brandon.

Roshan has already been tagged with the nickname, "Young Anand", for the current World Chess Champion, Viswanathan Anand, of India. Roshan is a nice looking kid with a large, quick smile and terrific personality. He is a straight ‘A’ student, the only one at Lincoln Elementary to get perfect FCAT scores in math & reading, and he plays the piano. Roshan plays baseball, loves the Green Bay Packers & the Bucs, and watches all three televised NFL games on Sunday. Truman, Hailey, and Alexandra are all very normal, appealing and engaging. These kids are totally the opposite of how many people expect chess players to be milquetoast bookworms.

Roshan’s story shares some striking similarities to Sultan Khan (born 1905 at Punjab in India), famous for becoming a great chess player without formal training. Due to his prowess at chess, he was chosen to be a manservant for Sir Umar Hayat Khan, the provincial ruler who brought him to England in 1929. Sultan Khan astonished the world by winning the British Championship three times in four tries (1929, 1932, 1933). During an international chess career of less than five years, his results placed him among the top ten players in the world. Due to customs at the time, when Sir Umar returned to India in 1933, Sultan Khan had to go with him, where he gave up chess and returned to his humble life. Sultan Khan was "perhaps the greatest natural player of modern times", according to authors David Hooper and Kenneth Whyld who wrote: "When Sultan Khan first traveled to Europe his English was so rudimentary that he needed an interpreter. Unable to read or write, he never studied any books on the game, and he was put into the hands of trainers who were also his rivals in play.”

The benefits of chess for children are well-documented, particularly how they carry over to other activities in life. It’s no surprise that chess kids get better grades, pay attention in class, have better self-esteem, better time management, and a sense of responsibility for their actions.

The Tampa chess club, Hoffer’s Chess Academy [; (813) 526-2257], is organized by TrongAn Hoang, who designs websites, and Michael Hoffer, who has coached numerous State and National Champions. Players of all levels get to compete in friendly games followed by excellent and entertaining training at a large demonstration board by Coach Mike. Club members range from age 7-adult, because age, size, gender, religion, race or nationality do not matter when it comes to chess. All are equals when they meet over-the-board at the club or in its Tampa Bay Area tournaments. They are all very quick learners, and have to be to keep up with each other! The cost is only $10 per session. They meet on Tuesday nights from 6:30-9 PM at 5035 E. Busch Blvd. As Coach Mike states, “We try to pass on to the next generation what one of my mentors taught me. If you make the right moves, you get the right results! You can do anything you want if you stop and think. Successful people learn how to use their minds. They are patient and delay instant gratification. Hoffer's Chess Academy’s goal is to cultivate great minds, and along the way, create great memories!”

I was one of Roshan's victims. I lost to him in Round 4 due to a combination of fatigue and over confidence. I will post that game later. Personally, I think that his rating will drop because he isn't really that good, he just was good enough to spot my blunders.

According to an email that Michael Hoffer sent to me afterward, here are the rating results for the US Open Prep tournament:

Roshan Jayaraman 1696
Rob Clark 1736
Lybo Godspodinov 1775
Mike Serovey (me) 1567
Cijo Paul 1545
Terry Feeney 1406