Blind Ambika finds peace playing chess

Ambika Prasad









25 years ago when he took to chess, he never knew how to play the game and neither was interested in playing it. But now after two-and-a-half decades, he takes chess as his religion and has mastered the game of sixty four squares. Such is the story of Ambika Prasad Singh, a visually challenged chess player, who plays the game as a hobby and uses it as a tool to find peace.

Ambika was not blind by birth. It was when he was eight years of age that he contracted chicken pox and lost both his eyes due to the deadly disease. But he never used it as an excuse and did carry on with his life. “I never knew what happened to me. I was too small to actually feel dejected emotionally, but as time passed by I slowly realized and started feeling morally low. I took it as my fate and moved on with my life as there was nothing much I could do.  I faced problem initially but with time, I learnt to live with it,” said Ambika.

Chess happened to him much later than that and he never knew anything about the game. He actually picked up the game in 1982 on his principal’s insistence and took two month’s coaching from him. “It was National Sports meet and my school wanted me to go and take part in chess as there was no one who was interested in it. On my principal’s request I thought of giving it a try. I never had any formal training and it was my sir who trained me in chess. I went for the tournament but could not make it to the finals. But I did not get disheartened and kept playing the game,” added Ambika.

It was this attitude that earned Ambika a place in North Zone National B-level but unfortunately he could not make it to the finals as he could not finish in the top 30. But he never stopped and continued doing that and is still playing it.

Everything was going great with his chess till he entered college where the environment around him changed drastically. He became a subject of social ridicule due to his visual impairment. No one played chess with him and he was left clueless as what had happened. Even though he had a strong bonding with the game, he finally had to forego it as no was interested in playing with him. He changed along with the winds and shelved his love to concentrate on studies. “I was dejected on my misfortune for the first time when I went to college. Even my strong love for the game could not help in continuing it and in the end I had to let go of it,” said an emotional Ambika.

After his college got over he took up a teaching job and also got married. It was this move that brought him into chess again. He received immense support from his family and he took to the game again. Ambika, who is now a father of two kids, feels that a patronage from his family is indeed worth praising and it does help him a lot when it comes playing chess. “My wife encouraged me to play again. Introduction of computer helped me a lot and I played endless hours on it just to keep up my interest. And now when there are lots of tournament that takes place and I receive endless support from my kids to pursue what I could not do due to unavoidable reasons,” said Ambika.

“I do not see any difficulties when it comes to playing chess. Chess is a game of mind and all it requires is to know what the other person is thinking. Due to specially devised boards for the blinds it has become easy and only problem is that it takes a bit longer than the people who can see. Otherwise it is simple and I do not want to make any excuse or would take extra credit for playing the game,” said Ambika.

He did not set any endeavors for himself and he plays chess because he wants to play it and it gives him immense pleasure to do that. “I do not play chess to win or lose. It is like an indispensable part of my life and I just enjoy playing. I never get disheartened to lose or neither do I take pride when I win. There are certain things in life which someone just likes to do without thinking of the possible outcome and I guess chess is the one for me,” said Ambika.

Ambika does not have any regrets and wants to convey it to everyone who is as unfortunate as him not to get disheartened and go out in quest of their goals as more than anything else it is the will power that helps and if someone has that he believes everything would fall in place just like chess did to him.

By Swati Kumar
Indian Sports News